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Jane Boucher helps you find success—and enjoy working for it—in the workplace.
Lots of us have been there. Stuck in a job that gets us down. You know the feeling. You dread Mondays. You watch the clock, praying for the workday to be over. This can be a recipe for misery. On average, Americans spend 80 percent of their waking hours at work. That's way too much time to be unhappy. Every job has its challenges. Everyone has bad days at work. But if you find yourself screaming, "I hate this job!" once too often, it's time to change your life a little—or a lot.
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Do It Today
I used to be a high school counselor. I loved talking to at-risk kids. But you wouldn't believe the mounds of paperwork thrown at me. For every student, there were multiple evaluation forms.
I'd push the forms to the side of my desk for a few days, a few weeks. By the end of my first month on the job, I was so swamped with paperwork I hardly had any time to talk to the kids.
I stayed late one night to do my evaluations, now a towering stack of papers.
Lord, I shouldn't have let things get to this point. Please show me how to get through it. Feeling revived, I picked up the first form. Page by page I worked through the stack. There was no other way.
Solution? I set a regular time to get the work I liked the least done first. Then I could maximize my time with the kids.
We've all got a lot coming at us—e-mail, voice mail, customer complaints, presentations. If you let the negative aspects of your job build up, at some point they'll become your entire job. Tackle the nasty stuff first so you can focus on the part of your job you enjoy.
They're Called Coworkers for a Reason
Do you realize most of us spend more time with our coworkers than with our family and friends? When relationships with coworkers are troubled, your life will be too. Like a marriage or a friendship, work relationships require effort, thoughtfulness, respect and clear communication.
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My friend Lynn did her job well and didn't understand why people snubbed her. No one ever asked her to lunch. Conversations were strictly business. One day Lynn overheard two coworkers talking about her. They called her a know-it-all.
My advice: Talk to those coworkers. Don't confront them; talk to them. Ask, "What can I do to help us work together more effectively?" Using the word "I" let them know she wasn't finding fault but was willing to work on their relationship.
She found out that the tension stemmed from her tone of voice and body language. Lynn had a habit of crossing her arms, which coworkers interpreted as standoffish. Her voice took an authoritative tone in conversations, even if it was because Lynn was just making sure that she was understood. Lynn tried to modify her behavior. Her coworkers were impressed that she opened the lines of communication. The effort alone did a lot to smooth over hard feelings.
We All Have One
A boss, that is. And there are all types, believe me. Bonnie, a hospital head nurse, put in long hours. But her boss, the chief of staff, didn't appreciate her dedication. "He constantly berates me about problems that are out of my control," she said. "The harder I work, the more he yells."
I told Bonnie what my father always told me about difficult people: Kill 'em with kindness. Go to her boss and ask, "Is there anything I can do to help you?" The first time Bonnie tried that, her boss snorted, "What? You don't have enough to do?" Bonnie asked again the next day and the day after that. Her boss gave her flippant responses. But on the fourth try—quite possibly out of exhaustion—he gave Bonnie a real answer. Bonnie followed through with the request, and her boss couldn't help but be grateful.
Two horses were trapped on an icy mountain. Would help arrive in time?
"The whole time I was praying for my boss," Bonnie said. "Every night I'd ask the Lord to give him peace of mind. I guess I got some peace too!"
The key was that Bonnie always stayed in control of her emotions. By being sympathetic to her boss's problems, Bonnie got him to drop his defenses and see her true intent—to build a better relationship. Within a year he recommended Bonnie for a promotion. And she's still praying for him.
Jane Boucher is an award-winning speaker and the author of six books, including How to Love the Job You Hate: Job Satisfaction for the 21st Century. For more information on Jane Boucher and her books, visit Janeboucher.com.