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 awhile, 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.
Q: Although I enjoy my current job, I’m ready for some new challenges. I recently learned about an internal position which sounds very interesting, but I’m not sure when to tell my manager that I’m planning to apply. What’s the best time to let him know I might be leaving?
A: When applying for external jobs, it’s best not to tell anyone until you have an offer in hand. But with an internal position, your boss is likely to be a required reference, so you need to inform him before you submit the application. Most managers find it extremely annoying to hear about employee departures through the grapevine.
The specific timing of this revelation depends in part upon your boss’s personality. If he is a supportive manager who could help you strategize the application process, then an early conversation might be best. But if he’s an insecure soul who will consider this a defection, you may want to wait until the last possible minute.
Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics.” Send in questions and get free coaching tips at http://www.yourofficecoach.com, or follow her on Twitter officecoach.