Do feel frustrated at work?

Do you think people just don’t get you? Try looking at your behaviors and actions from your co-workers’ and managers’ perspectives. Frustration at work occurs when there are misunderstandings and communication problems between co-workers.

“The practice of perspective taking has the greatest potential impact on our ability to relate well to others. It can help us figure out how to modify our response according to how others think, and ensure a predictable emotional response from them. This does not mean we must constantly seek to please; on the con­trary, our responses at times can cause disappointment or frustration — for instance, if we make a decision at work and some­one else disagrees with it.” Michelle Garcia Winner and Pamela Crooke

Analyze your actions

Use the 7 groups of questions below as prompts to help you think of situations and events at work or school. As you remember these situations, think about how people reacted to you. What can you learn from their reactions? As you think about your behavior in different situations, can you think of different ways you could have reacted to create different outcomes? Do you see patterns and trends in your behavior and their reactions?

Consider these from your co-workers’ perspectives:

  1. Do people at work think you’re a major contributor – a top notch employee? Do you receive praise and kudos for a job well done? Do co-workers and managers talk you up to others at work? Do people ask you to help out on their projects? Do they ask for your input?
  1. Do people see you as a slacker? Can people rely on you? Do you deliver the result you promised, on time and in good shape? Or do you overpromise and never quite deliver the results you thought you could?
  1. Do people see you as likeable? Do you approach others with a smile? Do you ask questions and wait for answers? Do people seek you out for input or conversation on breaks? Do they think you’re a great listener?
  1. Do people see you as a snob? Do you only talk to certain people? Do you turn away when someone comes up to talk to you? Do you interrupt when someone is talking to you and insist on talking about items on your personal agenda? Do you walk away in the middle of a conversation? Are you always acting as if other people aren’t as smart as you? By the way, if you’re even thinking that other people aren’t as smart as you, they will know that – even if you don’t say it out loud!
  1. Do people see you as someone who can get things done? Do you complete your projects and work by the deadline? Do you ask for help when you need it? Do you volunteer to take on new work and projects? When you do, are you taken up on your offer?
  1. Do people see you as unmotivated or lazy? Do they think that you can’t focus? Are you late for work regularly? Do you frequently miss deadlines? Are co-workers and managers reluctant to ask for your help on projects? Do they tell you “everybody can do this!” and you don’t know how to respond?
  1. Do people think you are a team player? Do you contribute appropriately to meetings – even if you’re bored? Are you respectful of other people’s opinions? Do you ask questions appropriately? Do you complete your work on the project without complaints? Do you ask if others need help? Do ask for help if you need it? Do you tell the others on your team that you enjoy working with them?

Don’t give up.

Don’t give up if this exercise seems too hard. It is hard. When you take the time to think about these questions, you will begin to recognize patterns and trends in both your behavior and people’s reactions to you. Understanding these patterns and trends is a critical component in making sure that people appreciate both you and your work.


Surfer living up to her potential