Friday, November 21, 2008

WEATHERING TOUGH ECONOMIC TIMES: PULLING YOURSELF OUT OF THE DEPTHS

By Katherine Crowley and Kathi Elster

In every person's life, there are moments when things don't go according to plan. In fact, there may be times when something truly disheartening happens. Perhaps you don't get the promotion that you assumed was yours to claim. Or you receive a surprisingly critical review when you thought you were a stellar performer. Maybe your boss takes another job and you're left with a supervisor you can't stand.

Then there are those really big adjustments like sudden lay-offs, company mergers, and, most recently, national financial bail-outs. Today, we all face a level of economic uncertainty that is unrivaled since the Great Depression.

When faced with such challenging times, it's tempting to feel anxious, hurt, angry, betrayed, and disgusted. You may get depressed, feel deflated, and put your head in the sand. Or, you may react by mouthing off, erupting at others, stomping off in righteous indignation. Either way, it's easy to take a nosedive into emotionally dark territory.

Rather than linger in those dark waters, we encourage you to take steps to rebound from recent economic fluctuations, and pull yourself out of the emotional swamp. The following are five tips that you can follow to weather any stormy situation at work, and pull yourself out of the depths.

GET PHYSICAL:
When something horrible happens to us, our bodies act like sponges and absorb the pain. Part of pulling yourself out of the depths involves tending to your physical well being so that your body can release the sadness, anger, frustration and pain that it took as a result of the bad incident. Getting physical can include working out on a regular basis, getting massages, taking baths, going outside for walks in nature. Find ways for your body to release the toxins and bring you back to a healthier state.

FIND SAFE HARBORS:
Safe harbors are the people and places where you don't have to put on your game face and where you can get emotional support to move forward. When you crash and burn - whether you've lost a job, ended a relationship or suffered a catastrophe - you'll get out of the depths faster if you turn to people who can hear your story without judgment and help you put the pieces of your life back together. A safe harbor could be a trusted friend, a support group, a spiritual fellowship or a paid professional. Use your safe harbors to buoy you up until you can float on your own.

THROW AWAY THE CRUTCHES:
There's no situation so bad that excess drinking, drugging or eating won't make it worse. When you're in emotional pain, it's tempting to turn to drugs, alcohol, chocolate, ice cream, donuts, and other substances for escape. The problem is that those substances make you feel good in the short run and WORSE in the long run. What is your drug of choice? If you know what it is, avoid it when you're in the depths. Most substances used in excess are depressants and take us deeper into the hole rather than pulling us out.

KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE PRIZE (DON'T VICTIMIZE):
Bad things do happen to good people. In fact, these events are often tough lessons on the road to our greatest successes. When you experience some kind of career disappointment or business disaster, it's easy to think, "Why me?" To pull yourself out of the depths, re-focus on your initial goal before anything bad happened: Did you want to do work that you love? Do you want great financial success? Would you like to influence others or contribute to society in some way? Re-focus on the goals that you are truly passionate about and take small steps every day to get there.

FAKE IT UNTIL YOU MAKE IT (Wear the cape):
You may FEEL like getting up in the morning. You may not FEEL like getting dressed and going to work. Recovering from workplace disappointments requires a certain amount of faking it until you make it - acting as if you are okay and heading towards greater things. Dress as if you care about yourself, talk as if you believe in your future, and put yourself in the company of people who see you in the same light.

Katherine Crowley and Kathi Elster are the Owners of K Squared Enterprises, a management consulting firm that specializes in interpersonal relationships at work. They are the authors of the best selling book Working With You Is Killing Me and the soon to be released Working For You Isn’t Working For Me.
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