Your boss is a tyrant. The team is dysfunctional. Other departments are uncooperative. Customers are rude and demanding. Any of this sound familiar?

It is true that life can be hard, and sometimes it isn’t possible to escape your bad situation right away. (Feel like job searching in this economy?) How do you keep your sanity when it’s a dog-eat-dog world and you feel like you’re wearing Milk-Bone* underwear?

Stop whining. Just don’t do it. It doesn’t change anything and brings everyone else down. Others whining around you? Enforce a “whine-free zone.” If you feel the urge to complain, ask yourself, “What can I control, influence or manage for in this situation?” Take action on those things. Let the other stuff go.

Communicate bugs and wishes. Sometimes when we’re mired in negativity, we become irritated by behavior, but don’t confront it.  Then every subsequent slight just adds to the slow boil. Try “bugs and wishes,” something we learned from a first grader. It bugs me when you X, and I wish you would Y. For example, a more professional approach might be, I didn’t appreciate it when you interrupted me, and I wish you would allow me to express my thought before you speak.

Figure out how you are contributing to the problem. Even if you didn’t create it, are your reactions making the situation worse? Keep your thinking and actions on the high road, even if it seems like you’re there all alone.

Be realistic, but hopeful. It’s the old Stockdale Paradox again. Be aware of the brutal facts of the reality you’re facing AND stay positive that things will turn around. You may not be able to create instant paradise at work, but you can take action every day to make things better.

Learn from others. Yes, your boss is a tyrant. What lessons can you learn from that? How will your department model cooperation and a win-win approach, even if others aren’t there yet? Even rude customers can teach you something if you’re willing to learn.

Make a plan. Maybe it’s an escape plan. Or perhaps a “make-things-better” plan. Regardless, make sure you are taking steps today for a better tomorrow.

There’s an old saying that goes, life is hard and then you die. We prefer life is hard and so you learn.

* Milk-Bone is a registered trademark of Del Monte Foods, and we’re pretty sure they don’t come in underwear form.

Have a question or want some input from Humanergy about this topic? Contact us and we’ll get right back to you!