"Not now, I said!" Eileen regretted her words as soon as she heard herself speak them. Her words, her tone and especially her anger. But the damage was done. Little Randy had already run out of the kitchen and off to his room. She followed, not knowing exactly how she would apologize, or whether it would do any good.
Respectfully, she knocked at his door. "Randy, can I come in to say I'm sorry?"
"OK," he replied.
She opened the door and entered. His room, of course, was a disaster. He was lying on his bed, on his left side, his back to her. She sat down on the edge of his bed and put her hand on his shoulder.
"I'm sorry," she began. "I had a rough day today."
He turned toward her. "I can always tell," he said, with that four-year-old wisdom that so many of us lose by age five. Randy was still wise.
If you've had a "rough day" at work — conflict, abuse, or worse — bringing it home by stuffing it down inside is almost sure to fail. You probably won't be fully available to the people you love at home, and you might even end up in destructive conflict with them.
Merely making the physical journey doesn't bring your full Self home from work. Here are some things you can you do to help yourself — your whole Self — come home.If you've had a rough day
at work, stuffing it down
is almost sure to fail
- Make a date
- If you have trouble at work, talk to someone about it. People at home might be able to help, but there are lots of alternatives — a coach, a cleric, a therapist, a mentor, a colleague. Making a date to talk helps you set your cares aside.
- Change your shoes
- Begin the process of going home by changing to your homeward-bound shoes. Never let your work shoes enter your home on your feet.
- Take a breath
- Whether it's before you start your car, or just as you get aboard your train, limo, or kayak, pause and take a long slow breath. Breathe in, and then breathe out that last wisp of "work air."
- Smile at three people on the way home
- Find three people you can smile at on your way home — a co-worker, the lobby guard, the cab driver…whoever. If three is too easy for you, push it and find your limit.
- Travel with someone who works somewhere else
- Commuting alone, we stew in our own juices. Better to travel with another. Even better if that other doesn't work where you do.
When you get home, there's one thing more to do, and it's magic. Hug everyone in sight. Twice.
If you have an office at home, as I do, drawing a bright, clear boundary between work and home is difficult. But as you make the transition, you can still pause — and you can still breathe. Well, I'm done for now. Time for me to breathe. Top Next Issue
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- Peter J. Westerhof
- Nice, but I miss one. When coming home, take a shower and let everything wash away. I'm so used to it that I don't feel really home if I haven't showered first.
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More articles on Emotions at Work:
- When It Really Counts, Be Positive
- When we express our ideas, we can usually choose between a positive construction and a negative one.
We can advocate for one path, or against another. Even though these choices have nearly identical literal
meanings, positive constructions are safer in tense situations.
- Cellf Esteem
- When a cell phone goes off in a movie theater, some of us get irritated or even angry. Why has the cell
phone become so prominent in public? And why do we have such strong reactions to its use?
- Peek-a-Boo and Leadership
- Great leaders know what to say, what not to say, and when to say or not say it, sometimes with stunning
effect. Consistently effective leadership requires superior empathy skills. Here are some things to
do to improve your empathy skills.
- It's a Wonderful Day!
- Most knowledge workers are problem solvers. We work towards goals. We anticipate problems as best we
can, and when problems appear, we solve them. But our focus on anticipating problems can become a problem
in itself — at work and in Life.
- On Differences and Disagreements
- When we disagree, it helps to remember that our differences often seem more marked than they really
are. Here are some hints for finding a path back to agreement.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming October 17: Overt Belligerence in Meetings
- Some meetings lose their way in vain attempts to mollify a belligerent participant who simply will not be mollified. Here's one scenario that fits this pattern. Available here and by RSS on October 17.
- And on October 24: Conversation Irritants: I
- Conversations at work can be frustrating even when everyone tries to be polite, clear, and unambiguous. But some people actually try to be nasty, unclear, and ambiguous. Here's Part I of a small collection of their techniques. Available here and by RSS on October 24.
I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenhFPmOfjGdmFtSeIuner@ChacywtLPentBPGWuVqvoCanyon.com or (650) 787-6475, or toll-free in the continental US at (866) 378-5470.
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- The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
- Many people who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.