Started a new job only to discover it’s a minefield of gossip? Is your workload causing your social life to shrivel up? Or is management making your work life a nightmare?
Dr Mary Casey, Doctorate of Psychology and CEO of leading health and education organisation Casey Centre shares 7 strategies to achieve happiness at work:
1. Choose your job carefully
Establishing a feel for a work environment early on can save you later. “It is hard to know beforehand the office culture, but it is essential to not focus solely on salary when making a decision. In the interview, ask questions about management style and culture. Asking these questions will help you gauge the environment and whether the salary will be worth a potentially negative climate,” Dr Casey says.
2. Don’t take anything personally
“For your sanity, it is worth developing some emotional and mental detachment – especially from any individuals that radiate negativity. It is a skill that takes time to develop,” Dr Casey says. “Being detached in the workplace means you are able to judge and make decisions rationally and impartially.”
3. Don’t let negative emotions control you
Positive emotions make up 99 per cent of our happiness quota; however negative feelings – however small – have such an impact on us they can overwhelm anything positive. “When you feel like you are losing control to anger, stress or fear, take a short walk around the block. Never get emotional in front of managers or colleagues. In a negative work culture it may be used against you in the future,” Dr Casey says.
4. Disengage from manipulators
“Manipulation can be so subtle most victims are unaware they are a target. The most obvious signs are the way victims feel around another person,” Dr Casey says. “Set boundaries: make it clear to them what you will and won’t accept both verbally and behaviourally. When confronting a manipulative co-worker, they may play emotional games to make you feel guilty or discredit you. Don’t be pulled into their tactics – take the discussion back to the issue you are trying to confront.”
5. Create positive allies
You can create a positive workplace “sub-culture” by developing friendships with like-minded co-workers. “There’s nothing like having a laugh in the day with colleagues. Identify positive, supportive colleagues and go to lunch or drinks with them to develop the relationship,” Dr Casey says. “However, if there is any gossip then you must disengage with them.”
6. Find fulfilment elsewhere
“Sometimes we think work is the cause of our happiness, when it is actually another area in our lives – such as a relationship or our health – that we are unhappy with, and which is spilling into our work,” Dr Casey says. Taking up a sport; hobby or volunteering can also create a sense of fulfilment in our lives. “Committing yourself to something you really enjoy will help with your mindset when at work.”
7. Treat yourself
Do good things for yourself throughout the day. “If you find your morning is turning into a disaster, organise dinner with a friend, buy flowers for your desk, anything that makes you feel good,” Dr Casey says. “I always recommend that when possible, sit outside during lunch. Studies have shown that sunlight boosts moods.”
Fess up – are you happy at work?