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Career Q&A: Angry outburst will soon be forgotten

Q: When I get upset, I tend to let things fester instead of talking about them. Recently, after stewing over something trivial at work, I completely lost it and began yelling at everyone around me. After I calmed down, I felt deeply ashamed and humiliated, because I have always managed to control my temper in the past.

I immediately apologized to my co-workers and have begun looking for a counselor to help me deal with these anger issues. However, my fear is that I will never be able to redeem myself at work. I am nearing retirement age and have considered resigning, but I would hate for this to be the last memory that people have of me. What should I do?

A: Although your feelings of embarrassment are certainly understandable, resigning would be a serious overreaction. After all, you didn't embezzle funds or set the break room on fire. You simply had an unexpected temper tantrum. Assuming that you've been with this company for a while, one regrettable incident should not seriously damage your reputation.

Your thoughts of quitting are probably triggered by a desire to escape the constant reminders of this unpleasant experience. But while you may still be obsessing about your meltdown, odds are that your colleagues have put it out of their minds. You have already apologized to them, so your challenge now is to forgive yourself.

Despite this childish outburst, you appear to be a mature individual who is highly motivated to change. With the help of a qualified counselor, you should be able to determine why you exploded over "something trivial" in the first place. Typically, an angry overreaction indicates that the person is really upset about something else.

For better relationships, both at work and at home, people who harbor resentments must learn to manage their emotions, let go of the small stuff and address important issues with calm, productive problem-solving discussions. If this unfortunate episode drives you to acquire those skills, you may eventually view it as a significant turning point.

Transferred school secretary miserable

Q: My new job literally makes me cry. After working as an elementary school secretary for 15 years, I was transferred to a high school because of budget cuts. The environment is so unpleasant that I am already thinking about leaving.

On the first day of school, the administrators here were not welcoming at all. When I approached them and introduced myself, I immediately saw the uncaring look on their faces. I have since concluded that they are control freaks who enjoy pointing out employees' mistakes.

I am so unhappy at this school that I would rather work in retail or cleaning. What do you think I should do?

A: Despite your disillusionment, give this job a little more time before making any irrevocable decisions. After a major life change, the negative aspects can temporarily blind you to the positives, so you don't want to jump ship prematurely.

One likely source of your discomfort is a significant shift in organizational culture. Elementary and high schools differ greatly in terms of faculty, students, rules, procedures and leadership style. This disparity undoubtedly took you by surprise and will require a period of adjustment.

You might also reconsider your assumptions about administrators. Their "uncaring" first-day demeanor may actually have reflected a preoccupation with the myriad demands of a new school year. And correcting employee errors is simply a necessary part of their job.

If you eventually decide to leave, just be sure to choose your next position carefully. After a career in education, the transition to retail or cleaning would be much more difficult than the one you are now experiencing.

Career Q&A: Angry outburst will soon be forgotten 10/23/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 6:51pm]
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