Feeling crabby at work? Don’t focus on things changing in your job to restore your mood – focus on this…

How dedicated would you say you are to your job?  How dedicated would you say you are to your customers, your co-workers or your supervisors?  When it comes to job satisfaction did you know that how you feel about the people you interact with has more to do with how you will feel about your job than the tasks you have to perform?


But getting along with people can bring problems.  As we all know, we are not meant to please everyone all the time – and everyone is not meant to please us all the time (although we often live like this is how life is supposed to be).   With that, we experience cynicism from time to time.  Someone will do or say something that makes us contort our face into the same shape it would make if we smelled something really foul and offensive and a cartoon bubble might appear over our head that reads “WTF?” and emotionally we respond with some form of fear (anger, hurt, shame, confusion, etc.).


Hopefully our norm is to forgive and move forward.  But sometimes it builds up and we respond to that person or similar situation with a degree of reserve expecting a similar pain we experienced in the past.  Consistency in that thinking eventually leads us to develop a negative attitude as our norm or to just withdraw altogether.  This is how cynicism evolves.


So, are you feeling crabby at work?  Don’t focus on things changing in your job to restore your mood – focus on this…

your relationships.


Our degree of cynicism is directly related to the degree to which we have an emotional involvement with those we interact with.  This results in the degree to which you will offer and accept support, knowledge and acknowledgement to and from others. When cynicism becomes a relatively normal state of being for you – you leave yourself vulnerable to burnout.  Is being cynical your norm?  Consider the following questions:


  • Are there people or situations you consistently offer a negative, cold, indifferent or impersonal attitude toward?
  • Are there people or situations you tend to emotionally withdraw from or actively avoid when possible?
  • Are you interested in finding fault or do you place blame on others? (How often do you hear yourself say “Who did this?” or “Who is responsible for this?” as a knee-jerk reaction to a newly discovered problem?)
  • Do you doubt your contributions really makes a difference for others?
  • Do you perceive others to have a destructive style (berating, bullying, aggressive, unsupportive or avoiding responsibility)?
  • Do you frequently talk about what some “idiot” did to people who are not directly involved in or capable of solving these problems?


If you answered YES to most of these questions, you may be at risk for experiencing cynicism.  Cynicism one of the three markers of burnout which is characterized by burnout experts as “the development of negative attitudes toward the nature and the recipients of one’s work that may be best described as dysfunctional disengagement and a gradual loss of concern.”


Two remedies to combat cynicism are to nurture yourself and to seek support.


1.  Nurturing yourself can look as simple as this:


  • Remove yourself from the situation or people upsetting you as soon as possible.  Take a walk – give yourself some space and some room to breathe.
  • Be with your feelings – don’t judge them, reject them or try to avoid them.
  • Observe your reactive feelings and thoughts.  Observe what happened that triggered your negative feelings and what you evolved in response to that event.  Did it make you say negative things in your mind (hopefully not out loud) about someone else – about yourself?
  • Notice how does blame comes into play in what you are observing about your reaction?


Flawlessly deducting who is accountable for the problem you suffer never solves anything.  Shift your focus from blame to balance – it looks like this:


  • What would be helpful from others to restore balance to the situation for you (and be open to hear what may be needed for any other involved parties to receive from you to have their balance restored).
  • What can you give to yourself to restore your balance?


2.  Support does not mean finding someone you can complain to about events that upset you.  A good rule of thumb for the kind of support that can help cynical feelings you may be experiencing is this…


Don’t talk about what happened to cause you upset – doing so just makes you re-live events that triggered your feelings of cynicism.  Instead, talk about how you feel about your relationships or the situation that contributed to your upset – talk about what you want your relationships or situation to be.


If you must vent, confide in impartial people or resources who can directly help you solve the problem.  This includes seeking support/coaching for effective communication strategies with a goal of restoring balance to what may have fallen apart.  There are some great communication strategies to learn about – one of my favorites is non-violent communication.  Another resource may be in programs such as Landmark Education or Byron Katie’s The Work.


Practicing 3 core social motivators can also help to alleviate feelings of cynicism:


  1. Belonging – participate in opportunities to bond with others.  This can look like finding relatedness with another (seek to understand them first and then seek to relate to them – have you ever experienced anything similar?  Offer your empathy or compassion).  Another way to foster a sense of belonging is to do fun things with others.  Don’t leave all your interactions with others to be formed in the context of work or serious events.  People bond quickly when they get to see a side of you they don’t normally see.  If it’s someone at work that has you bugged – show them a relaxed or fun side of you – and offer yourself the opportunity to see a relaxed, fun side of them.
  2. Nurture – this means to give care to or to encourage the growth, development or restoration of balance to someone or something (including to yourself!).
  3. Esteem – Esteem is about feeling good about ourselves. Internal esteem is sustainable esteem – meaning how we define and meet our own standards of value and self worth matters more than relying only on others to show us respect and regard.  When others compliment and value us it can be wonderful but we cannot only define our worth based on compliments from others.  Define and live by your values – here is a free exercise to help you do that – My Values Clarity exercise.
About Gina Calvano

Gina Calvano is a certified coach and Senior Professional in Human Resources, with over 20 years of experience as a talent management professional in both the private and non-profit sectors. With a unique approach, she combines her strategic corporate expertise and accreditations with metaphysics and transformational thinking which has resulted in people all over the world feeling good about themselves and connected to a sense of purpose.

She created the Success Readiness Bootcamp™, a step by step process that enables people to easily discover their unique talents and abilities and match them to majors, jobs, industries and leisure pursuits. Gina is also the co-author of Breakthrough! Inspirational Strategies for an Audaciously Authentic Life with NY Times Best Selling Authors Marci Shimoff, Janet Bray Attwood and Chris Attwood and Powerful Connections Made Easy™ with Aprille Trupiano, and is currently working on her next book — Caged in My Cube: The Turnaround Guide For Loving The Job You Hate.

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