Work Disappointments give you wounds and causes undue stress. Two friends of mine are currently wounded. They have been inflicted by the sword of disappointment, one in her working situation, the another in his personal life—which has since spilt over into his work, making work difficult too. Though they are experiencing different scenarios they are both miserable, upset, stressed and experiencing a myriad of physical problems such as not sleeping or eating well.
Below are some quick tips to reduce the devastating effects of work disappointments and how to set up strategies to minimise adverse reactions and protect yourself.
Disappointment wounds at work happen to us all, they range from slight to deep hurts, causing untold stress and days off work. It is time to consider strategies to protect yourself and those you care for in the workplace. I have placed work disappointments into three categories: Papercut, Scratch and Deep Wound.
A ‘Papercut” disappointment could be viewed as a slight. It is received when handling every day situations and a moment of inattention has you sucking your finger where the seemingly innocent and innocuous piece of paper (or in this case disappointment) has delivered a cut. Quick sharp pain hits, aggravating throughout the day as it catches but soon healed.
This may resonate with you. At work it manifests itself by opening a badly worded and needlessly critical email, a colleague or boss who is upset and shares their negative and unhappiness in your environment or you may be refused permission to attend a course you thought would help your personal development. All in all the situation may comprise of small incidences but they are enough for you to feel a good day has changed into a bad day.
Your reaction determines the depth of these, figurative “paper-cuts”.
Strategy tips for coping:
- Agree to make the situation impersonal and realise that it is not a direct attack on you, your skills or values.
- Reach out by being humble or magnanimous to the other person,
- Accept the situation, making it better by a salve of kind words and let the incident flow past you in contrast to fueling the negativity and igniting the small incident into a larger one.
- Remember once you are on the defensive it is difficult to see the regret the other person may feel after they have emailed or spoken using sarcasm or a sharp tone!
A “Scratch” disappointment is one cutting into your psyche a little deeper and needing some additional attention to prevent further injury. What do you need to do to give yourself a psychological tetanus injection or shot! You make the choice on the level or medical attention needed as you monitor your risk as to whether this ‘disappointment’ wound will self-heal or fester. It is totally your call! Festering wounds seep poison, keep you awake at night and if left unattended will eventually need to be lanced! This is dangerous for you and for others!
This is when the initial scratch becomes part of self-harming when the disappointment from the situation is held onto or you attached blame for your hurt onto another person. I once had a staff member who raised a grievance 8 months after an incidence. A badly phrased comment had been made by her colleague in front of others, was allowed to fester and grow with negative potency. Over the 8 months, unbeknown to her colleague each and every comment that was made was taken and added to the original insult. The result was a weak grievance but huge stress for all parties. All of which could have been prevented if the scratch had been soothed immediately with a heartfelt apology for unintended hurt!
Your reaction continues to determine the recover from of these, figurative “unsightly scratches”.
Strategy Tips for coping:
- “Let it go” – agree with yourself that the disappointment is not worth continually rehearsing, remember or retelling (to yourself and others).
- Consider your wants and needs (although justified) can you allow them to be put aside?
- Be constructive in your responses to your disappointment, but voicing them in appropriate ways to the appropriate people.
- Find out some more whys? Why was the decision in work (or home relationship) thought out in that particular way? Ask for some clarity, feedback and information to add your understanding.
- Beware that you have not joined a gossip train where others are nursing their scratches wanting someone else they can hide behind as you are positioned to take action.
- Vengeance has no place in true healing. Keep to the facts and reflect away any personal digestion of the disappointment.
A “deep wound” of disappointment requiring further medical attention, stitches and bandages. This wound is visible to others (your attitude shows your hurt and in some cases shock and bewilderment). A gap has been opened, inflicted (internally or externally) and the closing of the gap has to occur to make everything right again. Like all wounds, physical, psychological, spiritual, the figurative disappointment wounds are difficult and lengthy to heal. They can appear from circumstances such as dismissals, redundancy and actions like grievances where people appear to take sides. What sort of circumstance would you put here?
Occasionally, just when a wound appears to be healing, an unexpected incident or comment reopens the scar, and further work is needed.
Later this wound will leave a scar. A permanent scar—always there. Red and raw to start with, later a white or near invisible line. Impossible to see by others but still held in your memory back of life’s experience.
Your reaction may need some professional help to positively heal from deep disappointed scar tissue.
Strategy Tips for coping:
- Depending on your personality, you may be able to lick your wounds and move on.
- Be gentle with yourself—this disappointment does not define you as a person or as a failure.
- You may need to take a short break to realign yourself or seek counselling/mentoring.
- Seek an independent confidante for a place to ‘off-load’ and lift you up during any dark periods.
- Spiritually, you will need to draw on your ability to forgive and bless those who perpetrated this deeper disappointment.
- Check your work habits: changing unhealthy ones of eating at your desk, not taking any exercise, taking more than your share of work home and too much time spent at the office!
- Read my book Unfrozen: I have a chapter on healing incorporating self-help and God-help. I explain the five steps for healthy scars and surviving disappointment, disillusionment and discouragement.
Download a 2-sided page to examine your history of Disappointment War Wounds created at work and set your strategy for reflecting future attacks.
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Examine your Work Disappointments
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