"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:
- Marking Grief
- Grief is usually a private matter, but for many, September Eleventh is different because our grief can
be centered in the workplace. On September Eleventh, give yourself permission to do what you need for
yourself, and give others permission to do what they need for themselves. Here are some choices.
- Why Dogs Wag Their Tails
- If you've ever known a particular dog at all well, you've probably been amazed at how easy it is to
guess a dog's mood, even though dogs can't speak. Perhaps what's more amazing is that it's so difficult
to guess a person's mood, even though humans can speak.
- Confirmation Bias: Workplace Consequences Part II
- We continue our exploration of confirmation bias. In this Part II, we explore its effects in management
- Toxic Conflict in Virtual Teams: Virtuality
- In virtual teams, toxic conflict sometimes seems to erupt spontaneously. People who function effectively
in co-located teams can find themselves repeatedly embroiled in conflicts that seem to lack specific
causes. What triggers toxic conflict in virtual teams?
- Regaining Respect from Others
- When you feel that a colleague has lost professional respect for you — or never really had respect
for you — what can you do about it? Check your conclusions, check whether it's about you, and
ask for a dialog.
See also Emotions at Work and Conflict Management for more related articles.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming March 29: Time Slot Recycling: The Risks
- When we can't begin a meeting because some people haven't arrived, we sometimes cancel the meeting and hold a different one, with the people who are in attendance. It might seem like a good way to avoid wasting time, but there are risks. Available here and by RSS on March 29.
- And on April 5: The Fallacy of Division
- Errors of reasoning are pervasive in everyday thought in most organizations. One of the more common errors is called the Fallacy of Division, in which we assume that attributes of a class apply to all members of that class. It leads to ridiculous results. Available here and by RSS on April 5.
I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenZLkFdSHmlHvCaSsuner@ChacbnsTPttsdDaRAswloCanyon.com or (650) 787-6475, or toll-free in the continental US at (866) 378-5470.
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- Get 2003-4 in Why Dogs Wag (PDF, )
- Get 2005-6 in Loopy Things We Do (PDF, )
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