advice career work

Handling Adversity at Work

Everyone experiences adversity in the workplace. Regardless of how successful or high ranking someone is in an organization. It could be with clients, coworkers or vendors. But it’s happened to us all.

And the unpoetic truth is, it always sucks. 

But (and I’m pretty sure you’re going to hate me for saying this), if handled well, you are undoubtedly a better professional as a result.

I have worked in the PR industry for 10 years. I’m proud of my career and workplace reputation. And on a regular basis, I navigate contentious relationships and situations. And I’m more than certain, I will encounter many more.

While each one is different, the same strategies can ensure you come out successful.

  1. Be slow to react. I never regret hitting the pause button. Wait to respond to emails or frustrating communication until the next day. Being reactive, even if it comes from a place of passion, often appears defensive.
  2. Listen, listen and listen. This is paramount in business. Listen to those you’re experiencing conflict with – you don’t have to agree – but the more information you have on the opposing perspective, the better. Seek understanding about where they are coming from, the pressures they might be experiencing, etc. 
  3. Get distance. Remind yourself there is life outside the office. Go for a run. Grab drinks with friends. Indulge a hobby. Being a whole person while not at work gives you better perspective when you are.
  4. Seek another POV. Share the situation with others. But be careful! This isn’t an invitation to gossip or complain but rather to loop in a boss or mentor. Their perspective on the issue is colored by years of experience, making their advice valuable.
  5. It’s not just you. It is both easy and tempting to think this situation is only happening to you. I’m happy to share that adversity at work happens all the time. To the best and the brightest. This is just another challenge you can overcome, not something that will define who you are as a professional.

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