"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:
- Getting Home in Time for Dinner
- Some of us are fortunate — we work for companies that make sure they have enough people to do
all the work. Yet, we still work too many hours. We overwork ourselves by taking on too much, and then
we work long hours to get it done. If you're an over-worker, what can you do about it?
- Be With the Real
- When the stream of unimportant events and concerns reaches a high enough tempo, we can become so transfixed
that we lose awareness of the real and the important. Here are some suggestions for being with the Real.
- 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?
- Compulsive Talkers at Work: Peers I
- Our exploration of approaches for dealing with compulsive talkers now continues, with Part I of a set
of suggestions for what to do when a peer interferes with your work by talking compulsively.
- Toxic Conflict in Teams: Attacks
- In toxic conflict, people try to resolve their differences by eliminating each other's ability to provide
opposition. In the early stages of toxic conflict, the attacks often escape notice. Here's a catalog
of covert attack tactics.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming February 20: Brainstorming and Speedstorming: I
- Recent research suggests that brainstorming might not be as effective as we would like to believe it is. An alternative, speedstorming, might have some advantages for some teams solving some problems. Available here and by RSS on February 20.
- And on February 27: Brainstorming and Speedstorming: II
- Recent research into the effectiveness of brainstorming has raised some questions. Motivated to examine alternatives, I ran into speedstorming. Here's Part II of an exploration of the properties of speedstorming. Available here and by RSS on February 27.
I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenyrmlhJzyzafCLQvoner@ChacXPSxWWuMePcGodsloCanyon.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.