Throughout the years I’ve been fortunate enough to be employed by companies that I loved working for (shout-out VoiceNation). I have also worked at jobs that I’ve just barely tolerated. But, no matter what company I worked for and what position I held, I have found that there is one constant: bad days will happen. I’ve dealt with angry clients and excessively chatty customers. I’ve had emotionally tolling encounters with distressed people that I desperately wanted to help, but couldn’t. I’ve had disagreements with co-workers, and have struggled to communicate with supervisors. I’ve made countless mistakes and have felt like a complete failure while on the clock. There have been days so bad that I actually wished for a zombie apocalypse so that I had an excuse to leave work early.
It’s likely that you can relate to one or more of these situations because we have all experienced bad days at work. Sometimes the bad days are rare, and sometimes they occur frequently. When we encounter a negative situation we tend to lose our motivation and find it difficult to continue with our work and interact with our co-workers. Providing excellent service is the last thing we feel capable of. Often we beat ourselves up and replay the situation over and over in our minds until all we can think about is how terrible and miserable we are. If you’re like me, all you want is to go home and drown your sorrows in a pint of ice cream while binge watching Netflix.
The truth is, even though it doesn’t feel like it, it is possible to recover from a bad day and still provide excellent encounters for your customers – or anyone you interact with.
A few years ago I had a job where nearly every day was a bad day. I would come home with slumped shoulders and a look of defeat, grab the ice cream and the remote, and contemplate calling out sick the next day. Tired of seeing me miserable, my dad sat me down and gave me some advice. He said, “You can be happy in any job. Happiness is your choice.” I had blamed the customers, my supervisor, the role itself, but it hadn’t crossed my mind that I was to blame for my unhappiness. I could be happy in my job regardless of my circumstances. It wasn’t easy, but over time I learned to deal with the negative situations as they arose and changed my mindset about my job. I actually came to enjoy it and was sad when I left the company.
The consequence of bad days is that whether they are rare or frequent occurrences, they can cause us to resent our work environment and allow the quality of our work to suffer. Bad days can turn temporary situations into constant excuses for unhappiness and complacency. That is why it is important to arrest negative thoughts as soon as they arise and learn how to recover from a bad day. Whether you are feeling down about a mistake you made, a difficult customer, or a disagreement with a co-worker, don’t let the situation control you. Deal with the negative emotions as they arise. Not only will you be able to provide excellent service, but you will be happier.
According to Officevibe, a company that specializes in employee engagement studies, there are a few simple things that you can do to help change your mindset and recover from a bad day:
1. Go For A Walk
When it is time for your break, head outside for a quick walk. The change of scenery and the fresh air will help calm you down and clear your head. I personally do a lap or two around the building every couple of hours and I always return to my desk feeling refreshed.
The endorphins released through exercise are scientifically proven to lift your mood. The other day Denise lead some of the staff on a 1 mile run during their lunch break. Besides returning to work a little sweaty and smelly, they were in good spirits!
3. Write it Down
Taking time to journal and write down your problem can be very therapeutic. Opening up a blank libre document, or sending yourself an email can do the trick as well. Putting your thoughts to paper can help you make sense of your feelings, and can provide a healthy avenue to vent and release the negativity.
4. Call Someone to Vent
Do you have a friend, parent, or significant other you can call and vent to? Sometimes all you need is to explain the situation to someone who can give you insight and encouragement. It may be tempting to talk to a co-worker about your problems, but in some situations it is better to talk to someone who is removed from the environment. There is a fine line between venting and gossiping. I admit that I’ve visited and crossed that line, but venting to your co-worker could invite them into your circle of negativity.
5. Do Tasks that Don’t Require Much Effort
If I am really shaken up about an incident, this is what I do. Catching up on emails, using your down time to practice typing, reading a leadership book, and anything else that doesn’t require a lot of brain power is a good way to unwind while still staying productive.
6. Listen to Music
In the length of just one song, music has the ability to move you from a bad mood to a good mood. Try listening to something upbeat and happy to help you carry on with your day.
7. Think About How You’ll Improve
We talk a lot about failing forward around here, and we really mean it. With every mistake you have the choice to feel sorry for yourself, or to learn from it. Try writing down a list of 3-5 ways that you can improve and choose to see your mistake as an opportunity for growth. Doing this exercise will give you hope for the future.
8. Watch a Funny Video
I can watch funny cat videos on YouTube all day. Use your break as a time to watch something funny. After all, they do say laughter is the best medicine.
Taking a few minutes to close your eyes and rid yourself of distractions can calm you down and help you focus for the rest of the day.
10. Turn Off Social Networks
There are many great aspects of social media, but there can also be a lot of negativity associated with social networking sites. If you are having a bad day, it is best to avoid Facebook, Twitter, etc. and use your breaks to do something beneficial like going for a walk, meditating, listening to music, etc.
11. Show Empathy
Empathy is a guaranteed way to provide excellent encounters. Regardless of how your day is going, show empathy to your customers. You have an opportunity to turn your bad day around by making someone else’s better.
If your bad day is a result of a disagreement with a co-worker, try to see things from their perspective. Having empathy and understanding where they are coming from will help to ease the tension.
12. Count Your Blessings
Typically, the situation is not as bad or life altering as we think it is. Try taking a few moments to think of a few things in your life that are going right. Maybe try to write down at least 3 things you are grateful for in a journal. It is amazing how counting your blessing can put things into perspective.