How to Deal With Adversity in the Workplace

Be prepared for those tough days on the job.
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Everyone has a rough day at work every now and then, but sometimes more serious or long-term rough periods happen that can take their toll the workplace. You might not be able to predict when adversity will hit and whether it will directly impact you, but you can take steps to be better prepared when it does strike. If your own life is in perpetual chaos, including your desk and your work habits, tough times at work may truly throw you for a loop. But if you are comfortable in your own skin and confident and efficient at work, you'll be better equipped to survive periods of adversity.

    Step 1

    Minimize the impact of the inevitable rough days in the office by keeping your own work life in order. Stay on task by sticking to a schedule and meeting deadlines. Keep your desk, cubicle or office organized. When adversity hits, things in the office will be challenging enough without having to scramble to catch up or find the file you need for tomorrow's meeting.

    Step 2

    Fix what you can and learn from what you can't. If you contributed to the problem at hand, own your part in it and do whatever you can to make it right. Look at adversity as a challenge and identify ways to apply your problem-solving skills to overcome it. As the song says, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger," so study the situation to figure out what went wrong and why, and how you can do things differently in the future to prevent a recurrence.

    Step 3

    Take care of yourself. If you're physically and emotionally healthy, you'll be better able to manage problems or crises when they arise. Don't get sucked up into the doom and gloom in the office, and don't blame yourself for things over which you have no control. Get involved in something fun or rewarding outside of work -- play a sport, take a cooking class or do volunteer work in your community. This gives you something to look forward to and feel good about, even when things at work are lousy.

    Step 4

    Remind yourself of the things you do well and that are going well for you. You don't have to turn into a Pollyanna, but do count your blessings and recognize that there are things in your life that are positive. Make a list of the things at work that you do well: Maybe you recently received an award or successfully completed a major project. Reminders of success and positive things in your life will help you feel less powerless when adversity strikes at the office.

    Step 5

    Spend time with like-minded co-workers to avoid feeling like you're facing the office problems on your own. Vent together and get your frustrations out in an appropriate setting with friends, rather than losing your cool with the boss at work. Set a time limit on the grousing to keep the evening from turning into a toxic gripe session. When the designated time is up, stop complaining about work and turn your attention to something enjoyable and non-work-related -- sharing the appetizer platter at your favorite hangout or hitting up the new comedy club might be just the ticket.

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