It’s Not You, It’s Them: How Not To Catch Someone’s Bad Mood

This might sound familiar.

You come to work, make yourself comfortable, and ready to kick off, but the colleague that sits close to you just grunts. Your ‘hello’ get’s a barked ‘hello’, but a ‘how are you’, triggers a snap ‘fine’.

You think to yourself — ‘somebody is in a bad mood’! You brush it off and go for a coffee with a more approachable colleague.

But sitting hours in the same place gets to you. A request from him comes out as a command and the hostile body posture sours your mood when you glance that way.

Bad moods can spread like a bad smell — you can’t touch it or see it, but it’s still real.

….If you’re a people pleaser, you might try ‘to fix’ things. Until you get some sort of approval from him, you won’t feel better.

….If you prefer to compartmentalize, you ignore him. But it saps your energy and builds up resentment.

….If you deploy numbing, you might stop feeling bad. But you will also stop feeling good, have less energy and enthusiasm.

The strategies that lack self-awareness only work for a short time. And sitting close to someone in a sulky mood can feel an eternity!

This is where emotional resilience comes in.

Emotional resilience is not about fighting difficult emotions or situations. It’s about using strategies not only to bounce back from difficult situations but to do so without major harm to yourself.

So what would be the right strategy here?

If the answer sounds simple, the implementation is definitely not.

Boundaries are fluid, changing, and adapting to each moment, or situation. They can depend on an indefinite number of factors — on a person, on the relationship, past exchanges, your mood.

One — clearly define it. What exactly overstepped your boundary? E.g. Maybe what triggers you is lack of consideration to you and people around you, that you deem selfish.

Two — enforce and readjust. Define what happens in case of a breach. Are you going to confront/explain? Going to leave the place where they sit? Change your relationship in some ways?

Setting boundaries can feel like exercising on a constantly shifting stand, but they are worth it.

Did you ever notice that even on your bad days, you don’t snap at your boss?

You know that showing your boss your bad moods would violate the boundary and hurt your relationship.

Apply this to other relationships by setting your boundaries and enjoy the power.

Originally published at https://www.emotionready.com on August 9, 2020.

I help people become more emotional resilient and thrive at work. EmotionReady.com