Do you get ticked off at work?

Just to confirm, “ticked off” does NOT mean “checked out” (in many countries the check symbol is referred to as a tick). Although interestingly, one could check out after prolonged periods of being ticked off too often. Being ticked off is feeling upset, annoyed, frustrated, or irritated. Many of us may have noticed that these days we tend to easily get ticked off at work. A large portion of it can be directly or indirectly attributed to the pandemic. Some of our co-workers get on our nerves by saying things that are insensitive or just downright opposite to our beliefs. That used to not be so hard to take take in the past but we now feel it is time to speak up and offer our two cents (while burning inside).

In fact, even insensitive comments or polar opposite views are not required for one to get ticked off. Something simple can trigger us like having too many meetings, people not reading emails carefully, colleagues misunderstanding what we said, supervisors repeatedly asking the same thing that we already explained, and clients/students not following our guidelines. Many of these can be due to not having face-to-face interactions during the pandemic. However, that may not be the only reason. Maybe we are not paying enough attention because of juggling several things, multi-tasking, or just that the inner voice is hyper active. If we work from home, everything is right there and can grab our attention.

Working from home (WFH) has tremendous benefits and going into the future we need a smart way to balance between WFH and going to the office. However, that would require a clear understanding of what works well in either situations. One of the downsides of working remotely is that our peers and supervisors don’t exactly know what we are up to. Some of us are not very good at telling our peers and supervisors what all we did due to concerns of looking like we are bragging, or not being ready for constructive feedback. Another downside of working remotely is unless we have a perfect match personality-wise, it is hard to do collaborative work from different locations.

WFH in itself does not result in people getting ticked off like they are now. It is WFH along with the uncertainties associated with the pandemic that causes a lot of stress in day-to-day lives. On one hand, lack of reliably accurate information has resulted in exacerbating the uncertainty. On the other hand, we could be extremely biased toward information that resonates with us and our beliefs, and that could alienate us from those that are not like us. Diabolically whether we are clear (due to our being biased) or we are confused due to uncertainty, both result in stress. Further, just not meeting people face-to-face (F2F) can cause deterioration of one’s mental health.

Given that, first as a supervisor let us see what we can do to mitigate our team members from getting ticked off. For that we need to understand each individual in our team. One way is to have one-on-one meetings with the explicit agenda of trying to assess what is working and what are some triggers. Then, if possible see if the triggers can be avoided. Also, allowing the team to meet without us, i.e. the supervisor, would result in them feeling comfortable to share any issues, including those they have with us. In addition, we need to find ways to reward employees not only for outcomes that directly impact the numbers our leaders care about, but also for indirectly contributing to others’ success through selfless service.

Okay, now as an employee, here are some things we can do to not get easily ticked off at work.

WFH like we would work F2F

It is extremely tempting to multi-task from home by checking our phone, email, work on something else, or grabbing a bite to eat in the middle of a meeting. However, not giving our full attention is one of the reasons there is miscommunication. If we meet while WFH just like we would F2F by being fully present in the conversation, then it would not only make our meetings short and productive, but also alleviate chances for misunderstanding.

Use levity and clean humor

Stress levels greatly reduce when our interactions are light and filled with laughter. Of course, we want to be sure to use humor that is not offensive in any way. We want to be sensitive to how our jokes may be perceived. That does take some trials. Further, it helps to not take ourselves too seriously. One way to do that would be to regularly consume comedy by listening to podcasts or watching shows. They can be done while doing chores or exercising.

Cut some slack

Just being aware that most people are stressed during the pandemic and many people get ticked off easily these days is an excellent first step. But we have to remember that aspect often enough, especially when something is said to us. By being mindful and understanding of what others could possibly be going through opens the door to cut some slack. As they say, it is better to pick our battles when someone says something. So we do not have to get worked up about everything that gets thrown at us.

Have a wonderful time!

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