June 8, 2012
Let it go: Office grudges can hurt you more than co-worker
Rick was well, to put it politely, ticked off.
Someone he had worked with and trusted for years had betrayed him. And he wasn’t in the mood to forgive and forget for eight years.
“We had an understanding,” he says. “We were partners. Then he screwed me. He saw a better opportunity and without even talking to me, he just took it.”
Today, Rick is a reformed grudge holder, free at last from the Grudge Grip.
"I’d wake up hating him, while he was probably waking up thinking, ‘Should I have Corn Flakes or Cheerios?’ ”
Grudges can take on a terribly fierce hold. And they’re until met head-on, they stick to you like chewing gum on the bottom of your shoe. The longer time passes, the deeper they sink in.
Your workplace is fraught with grudge opportunity. Think of all the people who have done you wrong.
How about that co-worker who isn’t carrying his weight but gets paid for the same job you do? What about when so-and-so was late to a meeting 2006 and missed a deadline? Or when what’s-his-name interrupted you in the middle of your big presentation and the whole thing went down the tubes? When was that, a decade ago? But you still remember, don’t you? And you still associate that person with a bad feeling or result.
Grudges can be about the tiniest transgression or something big — or something the so-called offender didn’t intend or know about.
There are people who have developed and held onto a grudge when someone snubbed them in a job search 15 years ago. Some folks bear grudges against others who don’t “friend” them on Facebook.
Grudge-holding is a terrible thing to do yourself.
As Rick says, “My partner had moved on with his life. But there I was, left stewing, hurt and bitter. I allowed him to determine my mood and my happiness. I let him play a role in whether I’d attend a meeting I thought he might be at. I’d wake up hating him, while he was probably waking up thinking, ‘Should I have Corn Flakes or Cheerios?’ ”
Holding a grudge is a self-protective mechanism, says psychologist Larina Kase. It’s so primal, it could go back to our primitive goal of survival of the fittest. Anyone who undermines our survival — insults, being ignored or irresponsible people can be seen as threats to your survival — is to be avoided.
How do you get beyond a grudge? Here are a few tactics to consider:
Write a letter to (or even call) the offending person. This might not be the right thing to do for every situation, so weigh this well before trying.
Consider the circumstances — the person, your relationship today, whether doing so would cause new issues or repercussions. You can ask the person for what you need, such as an apology.
You’re not trying to change how this person feels or to elicit a certain response. You’re just being assertive about your needs.
Write out a list of pros and cons for carrying this grudge. You guessed it: The cons probably will outweigh the pros.
Think about and write down what your grudge is helping you avoid. In Rick’s case, it helped him to vent about what had happened and talk about what led up to the event.
Then he pondered: What did I learn from this?
This may seem like a lame thing to do, since whatever happened made you really mad and someone might have let you down. But you can be stronger for it. When someone lets you down, it’s a chance to build inner strength. And that’s something you can always count on.
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