This week I had the horrible experience of having an unexpected conflict with an almost stranger. I had begun a new contract and one of the employees I was working with decided to be very angry with me in public. I held my ground. Kept things civil. And managed to bring the conversation to a good and constructive resolution. However, as you can imagine it was not the nicest of experiences. I was shocked by the whole experience. I have never before met anyone who thought it was ok to be so rude to a new co-worker. However, that’s by the by. After this conflict, all kinds of emotions surfaced that I had kept under control during the conflict. I was angry, sad, a little scared, and worried that the incident had happened so publicly on my first day. All at once I felt a myriad of conflicting emotions and completely unsettled. However my work day had to go on and as a coach, I needed to get out of my stuff quickly and move on to hold the focus on the people whose lives I am supporting and empowering. Basically, I needed to process and feel grounded and secure quickly.
We all have experiences like this that we don’t have endless time to process before the events of the day continue. And more often than no we suppress the emotional and rational thinking journey until much later in the day. When we are tired. And what happens? We either take it out on someone else, work ourselves up making a mountain out of a molehill or we blame ourselves and destroy our self-worth with negative thought spirals. Not handling with emotional incidents, such as a conflict at work, has bad consequences. So ideally we need to process these events in the short time we have so they don’t build up into something much bigger later in the day.
Going back to my situation earlier in the week. I had about 8 minutes in between the conflict and my next client. A minute amount of time to process and realistically you cannot in such a short space of time really process the emotional impact of the situation. What you can do however by using some simple tips and tricks, gain control over your unbalanced emotions after a conflict in a healthy way. E.g NO SUPPRESSING! The great thing is that if you use these tools you can emotionally process the situation quickly, in the here and no so you don’t get caught up in the aftermath of stress later during your day.
Here is my guide to recovering from a conflict at work in 8 minutes, doing even just one of these things will make you feel better. However, combined they give you an extremely powerful experience just when you need it the most.
Go somewhere alone as soon as you can. If you are feeling a bundle of post-conflict emotions you don’t want an audience. Take a quick break, go to the loo or shut your office door for 5 mins.
Have a blooming good rant
When we have been in a verbal conflict we need to process verbally to release the stress created. So have a rant. I find for me that contacting someone neutral, preferably a friend, not a partner, ask them for permission for a 2-minute rant and then some comfort. (You do not want to go on to solutions before you have processed your emotions). If you cannot talk to someone talk to the air as though someone was listening. Get it out of your system.
Swear like Father Jack Hackett
If you remember the iconic tv series Father Ted you will remember Father Jack Hackett. The elderly, senile drunk priest who swears loudly and constantly. Swearing when we are in a temper somehow helps us feel better. I find a long list of profanities starting with Bugger F*** W**K and ending in Arse goes a long way to help me release frustration. Here is where FB is a godsend. If you can’t swear out loud at work typing with the caps lock on, to an understanding friend is a great alternative. Profane your heart out.
The Japanese self-relaxation technique
This simple easy and you can do it without anyone seeing you. To give a quick background, in this Japanese self-relaxation technique each of the fingers in our hand represents a different kind of emotion or feeling. The concept is to balance all the opposing energy forces in your body. Start this by taking one finger at a time, grasping it with the opposite hand and wrapping every finger around it.
Hold each finger for one to two fingers. Wait until you feel the pulse. This is when you know it’s working. To aid in relaxation, apply slight pressure to the center of your palm with your opposite thumb and hold for at least one minute.
It’s quick, easy and it works. Follow this video on Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3-O7gPsQK0
This is an extension of the 5-minute rule. Put your timer on for 8 minutes. Allow yourself to rant, to talk, to cry, to swear and to do your Japanese relaxation. When that timer goes off ask yourself 2 important questions.
- Can I do anything about this? (constructively not destructively)
- Do I need to do this now?
If you can’t do anything about it or you do not need to do anything about it right now then get on with something else. Do something you can be constructive and productive about.
Of course, after 8 mins you will not be completely recovered from the conflict. However, you will have given yourself 8 minutes of expressing your emotions, your frustrations in a healthy way. By the time you get home, the incident will still bug you, but it won’t be emotionally running the show. Go home, talk to someone about possible ways of handling it and pour yourself a big glass of something nice and do something good for yourself. Conflict at work is inevitable. However, conflict at work ruining our whole day doesn’t have to be
Happy Weekend 🙂