We all experience different cultures at work. Often, those cultures are a cause of frustration. Every time we face frustration, the way we think about it, not the event itself, determines how frustrated we feel and how effectively we respond. Most people are unaware that they continuously and unconsciously answer the question, “Why am I frustrated?”
The first reaction to frustration is reflexive and inflammatory.
It targets other people as the source of problems. This automatic response undermines efforts, cinches long-term failure, and increases hostility. If you or your team gets energy from hostility and contempt, blames people for problems, trusts only a few people (select groups), views others as adversaries, believes that life is a race to get others before they get you, then your hostile, paranoid feelings and interactions with others will confirm your beliefs.
The second reaction is a form of harsh, self-criticism.
It typically begins to dominate thinking after the adrenaline response fades. This reaction turns the power of contempt inward. It causes individuals to withdraw, become depressed, and feel helpless or immobile. It increases the risk factor for a variety of illnesses. Self-loathing results in the loss of energy and triggers feelings of lethargy and hopelessness. If you and your colleagues believe that we are essentially alone, that life is stupid, that effort often goes unrewarded, and that withdrawal from other people and opportunities is inevitable, then your isolation and lack of recognition will confirm your beliefs.
The third response to frustration is a reflective reaction.
When problems occur, this thinking pattern focuses on situations, not on people. It’s an analytical, but warm reaction to frustration that makes climates hearty, and increases respect, influence, resiliency, productivity and a sense of well-being. Reactions that support people as they tackle hard problems increase positive energy and sustain groups through thick and thin. In describing these climates, participants in seminars use words such as: productive, energizing, creative, surprising, respectful and affirming. These atmospheres are loaded with advantages. If you or your group work hard to build and earn mutual respect, does what it takes to achieve established goals, gets a thrill from learning and solving problems, and reaches out to others in times of need, then the social capital created will confirm your collective beliefs.
Each of these three choices (hostility, depression and appreciation), are validated by the people around you and by your combined life experiences. We unconsciously seek out people with similar orientations.
What are your experiences with these reactions? Post below and share!