Stay Sane at Work! Strategies for Dealing with Workplace Dissatisfaction

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Recently, I heard of an employer who announced plans to change a crucial procedure for doing things in a department of a small company.  They did not enlist any of the employees who actually do this job (of which there are 54) to aid in the decision-making process.  The executives who chose the new procedure have never actually worked in the position that would be effected by the decision.  Now, the employees are left with a procedure that they are held accountable for that doesn’t make sense and doesn’t get the job done as well as the old procedure.

Whatever your reason, the fact is that many of us feel undervalued and unhappy at work.  The last thing we should do, however, is sabotage our own success over someone else’s shortcomings.  For this reason, I have compiled a list of five tips for dealing with a less than ideal working environment.

1. Bite Your Tongue.  Sadly, it seems, in most cases speaking out just doesn’t seem to be the best solution.  Middle and upper management seem to need to create ways to justify their positions in such a volatile marketplace, and letting them know that it isn’t working just isn’t the best decision for your own job security.  No matter how painful it may seem, just sit back, do things the way they want you to do them, and wait for it to all crash and burn.  When they start doing damage control and change things, yet again, go home and crack open a bottle of wine.  Toast yourself with a hearty “Told ya so!”  But under no circumstances should you actually voice that at work.

2. Get a Hobby.  Too often these days, our jobs consume our thoughts outside of the office.  Go find something else to occupy your thoughts outside of work.  Better yet, find something that will get you so excited that you can think of it at work as well to get you through the day.  A friend recently said that if he is getting really worked up about work, then his home life needs some serious adjusting.

3. Create A Happy Place. Your desk (or cube, or where ever it is you work) should be your sanctuary.  Create a serene environment, filled with as much evidence and reminders of your life outside of work as you possibly can.  Don’t skimp on nice frames for pictures, add a nice table lamp to your desk; really make it your space.  That way, when you sit down at your unique space, you feel comfortable and at home in your surroundings.  You will be amazed by just how much more you are able to get accomplished when you feel comfortable.

4. Forgo Negative Energy.  Stay away from the employee cafeteria if it is a breeding ground for negativity.  Don’t get wrapped up in water cooler talk that is sure to get you worked up.  Remember the words once spoken by…somebody: “Don’t insult yourself by saying bad things about someone else.”  Live by that at work, and some of the bad stuff will simply slide off your back.

5. Be a Terrific Actor or Actress. Plaster that smile on your face at work.  Wear clothing that is just as professional as your boss.  Act like you love your work.  Pretend that everything is fine and that whatever your bosses decide is fine with you.  They are the experts, after all!

The bottom line is this- and we don’t have to like it, but we do need to hear it.  There are many people lined up to take a shot at our jobs.  Our bosses can find someone who will do what they want with a smile.  Perfect working environments are incredibly hard to come by- especially in a tough economy.  Those jobs at Facebook and Google don’t exist outside of Facebook.  And Google.

But all hope is not lost.  The funny thing about the list above is that it actually does help.  You’ll find that as you are using those strategies to pretend that everything is okay, things will start to be kind of, well, okay.  And okay is pretty damn good these days.

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