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Learn & Practice

Workplace Wednesday: Move Past A Bad Interaction/ Meeting/ Email/ Day

By The Healthy Minds Team

In this week’s Workplace Wednesday we give tips on how to move on from a bad day at work.

Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

Have you ever left a meeting and just felt not great afterward? What about an email exchange – or even an entire work day – that just leaves you feeling low? Does your inner critic start to replay and ruminate over the interactions? What can you do to move past these feelings, learn and reset for the next interaction?

Sometimes, a “bad” work day can be a real blow to both your equanimity and self-compassion. It’s hard to move past these challenges. And if you’re not careful, one interaction can negatively affect your well-being and the well-being of those around you for longer than the just one meeting, or one day.

How to Reset After a Poor Work Ineraction

  • Stop and Breathe: When things get stressful, most of us get caught up in our thoughts. The story line in our mind takes over and starts to play on a loop. If you find yourself replaying the events of the workday, your breath can be your best friend. Sometimes it’s all we can do. When things are challenging at work, the breath has a way of loosening things up so that they don’t seem quite so heavy and overwhelming. (Here’s a 5 minute meditation to help you count your breath.)

  • Notice Your Inner Critic: The inner critic is the voice in our head that is constantly judging and evaluating. If you’ve finally taken a moment to breathe, and you start to hear, “Why did I act that way in that meeting!” it’s time to just notice this voice. The point here is to notice it, not to make it stop. This point is EXTREMELY important, because if we try to shut down our inner critic, that itself is a reflection of the judgemental mind. What we want to do is see that this inner critic – and all of the thoughts and feelings it conjures up – doesn’t have to run the show. It’s just words and images in the mind. That’s all. We can be aware of the voice and treat it like a random sound, or like the breath, and simply be aware of it.

  • Treat Yourself Like a Friend: So you took a breath, you listened to your inner critic  – now what? Sometimes we need to flip the script on our own inner critic. We need to treat ourselves a little more like we treat other people. So you screwed up in a workplace interaction or found yourself caught in some old habit that you’re not exactly a fan of. Now, hit pause and ask yourself a question. “If my best friend were struggling like this, how would I support her? What would I say to her? How would I show I care?” Maybe you would say, “that interaction wasn’t great, but what can you learn from it and how can you do better? You’re doing the best you can at this moment!” (Send yourself some self-compassion with this 10 minute meditation to support this strategy.)

  • Sleep on it.

  • Evaluate in the morning. Last night after your poor work day, you stopped and breathed, noticed your inner critic and treated yourself like you would a best friend. In the light of the morning, can you reflect on the workplace challenge with a clear head? Do you need to do any follow up, e.g. apologize or let someone know why the interaction felt off? Or is self-reflection and learning enough? Hopefully, after a good night’s sleep, you now know the answer.

Everyone has good and bad days. We’re all just trying to do our best, especially with the external challenges that employees are facing. Paying attention to your reactivity and working through these experiences, rather than obsessively punishing yourself can help support your well-being and the well-being of others. You can even try keeping a log or journal to see what interactions set you off and led to the negative critic spiral.

But for now, just breathe.

Learn more about how the Healthy Minds Framework can support your workplace well-being with Healthy Minds @Work or signing up for our Healthy Minds @Work Public MasterClass.

HM@Work Meditations Workplace Wednesdays