"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 we take time to express to others our appreciation for what they do for us, a magical thing happens.
- Fill in the Blanks
- When we conceal information about ourselves and our areas of responsibility, we make room for others
to speculate. Speculation is rarely helpful. It's wise to fill in the blanks.
- Handling Heat: I
- Heated exchanges in meetings are expensive to both the organizational mission and to the careers of
the meeting's participants. Preventing them — or dealing with them when they happen — is
everyone's job. But what can you do when they persist?
- Big Egos and Other Misconceptions
- We often describe someone who arrogantly breezes through life with swagger and evident disregard for
others as having a "big ego." Maybe so. And maybe not. Let's have a closer look.
- Compulsive Talkers at Work: Addiction
- Incessant, unending talking about things that the listener doesn't care about, already knows about,
or can do nothing about is an irritating behavior that harms both talker and listener. What can we do
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming July 8: Multi-Expert Consensus
- Some working groups consist of experts from many fields. When they must reach a decision by consensus, members have several options. Defining those options in advance can help the group reach a decision with all its relationships intact. Available here and by RSS on July 8.
- And on July 15: Disjoint Concept Vocabularies
- In disputes or in problem solving sessions, when we can't seem to come to agreement, we often attribute the difficulty to miscommunication, histories of disagreements, hidden agendas, or "personality clashes." Sometimes the cause is much simpler. Sometimes the concept vocabularies of the parties don't overlap. Available here and by RSS on July 15.
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