If you’re not sure which version of your boss you’re going to get on a given day, it’s no wonder you have the Monday blues! Here are some tips for staying cool at work.
There’s nothing that incites Sunday-night dread like a stressed-out—and stressful—boss! When your supervisor is losing his mind over something trivial, it’s easy to carry that with you and let it affect the rest of your day… in fact, it’s pretty hard not to. Staying cool at work becomes difficult to impossible.
Half of all Americans have left a job because of their boss, but we’ll let you in on a secret: You don’t have to hold onto anyone else’s stress (or add to it by getting upset at work). You can offer your support where it’s appropriate and then move on with your day!
That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t say anything if your manager's stress crosses the line. Work stress isn't an excuse to mistreat subordinates, so know and enforce your boundaries. Just don't hold on to it after a crappy interaction ends.
No one has the right to hijack your emotions for an eight-hour workday, so don’t give your manager free rent living in your head—even if their day really sucks.
Give yourself permission to focus on how you feel, not how your boss feels! If that sounds impossible, check out our tips for staying cool at work:
1. Stop trying to make them happy
Hey, you aren’t the reason your boss is stressed out, so why are you the one trying to fix it? We’re pretty sure that’s not in your job description (unless you have a really unique title), so why not leave it to your supervisor to manage his moods like a big kid?
You are the only one who has control over your happiness, and that rule holds for everyone… even the guy who signs off on your paychecks. Instead of wasting your day and energy trying to figure out how to turn their day around, accept that it's out of your control.
2. Staying cool at work means making decisions yourself (where appropriate)
You might be stressing out because your boss’s bad moods mean they aren’t making the decisions necessary for you to do your job. If you’re constantly chasing down answers, consider whether you can start making some of those choices yourself to streamline the process.
That doesn’t mean you should steamroll your supervisor’s approval process or ignore their input! For big-picture decisions, you’ll probably still need to track them down and get ‘em to sign off. But if it’s a problem that’s in your wheelhouse and sphere of influence, then clear the roadblock by taking action yourself!
3. Don’t take a stressy boss personally
It’s easy to get down in the dumps if anyone snaps at you over something small—but don’t worry about it for longer than necessary.
Instead of getting upset, remind yourself that your boss is probably under a ton of pressure and that pressure has nothing to do with you. Next time the ol’ chief blows her top, just take a deep breath and tell yourself, “It isn’t me.”
4. Recognize them with a compliment
Detaching from your boss’s emotional state doesn’t mean that you should ignore them entirely! Many managers and supervisors go un-thanked and underappreciated for the workload they manage. (Join the club, right?) And everyone loves a compliment. You picking up what we’re laying down?
Take two seconds to say, "Hey, I liked how you handled that question at the meeting," or "You handled that unhappy customer like a pro!" Your boss doesn't hear it as much as they should—none of us do—and it’ll make both of you feel a little better. Just be sure to pick a sincere compliment.
5. Breathe in; breathe out—staying cool at work with box breath
May the four be with you! (Yes, we said four.)
If you’ve done all that already and you still feel like you’re going to have a conniption around your boss, it’s time for some dedicated chill. Here’s something to try:
- Breathe in for four seconds.
- Hold it for four seconds.
- Breathe out for four seconds.
- Hold it for four seconds.
Four steps, and each one takes just four seconds. Observe how the breath feels, and don't give any attention to your thoughts. Repeat it as many times as you need to. This is box breath, a form of pranayama, or meditation. And it’s discreet, so you can do this at your desk or around the meeting table without drawing attention.
Keep your composure (even if your boss can’t!) with Sunday Scaries
Sometimes you do everything right, and you're still struggling to stay chill… and other folks—especially the one who signs your paycheck—are working your last nerve. That’s where Sunday Scaries can pitch in.
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