Dealing with Disappointment at Work? It’s All in Your Head


“I just found out that I didn’t get a promotion I was really hoping for. I’m so frustrated and angry! How am I going to get past this to keep working with these people?” – Katarina from Savannah, GA



I’m sorry to hear that things didn’t work out like you’d hoped, Katarina. We’ve all experienced disappointment at some point or another during our careers, and it can certainly be frustrating when something you’d been hoping and maybe even planning for doesn’t happen.

The key to dealing with your disappointment is to remember that your thoughts control your feelings, which in turn control your actions. Clearing your head and getting your thoughts in order about what you’ve experienced is essential for ensuring a better outcome in the future.


Calm Your Mind

Before you can be productive, you need to get your feelings under control. If you start feeling angry or upset, stop what you’re doing and try some relaxation exercises. Close your eyes and take some slow, deep breaths, focusing only on your breathing. Open up a Word document or grab a notebook and write down everything you’re feeling – getting it out will help clear your mind to start working to improve the situation.


Determine What You’re Really Thinking

When you find yourself feeling upset, try not to act out immediately — refrain from pressing ‘send’ on that email or venting to coworkers. Instead, take a moment to consider what thoughts are underlying your feelings. For example, if you didn’t receive a promotion you were hoping for, you may feel angry or disappointed, but are probably thinking that your boss doesn’t value you and that your contributions to the team aren’t evident.


Wrap Your Brain around the Situation

When we’re feeling frustrated or overlooked, it can be hard to see things clearly. We may even be tempted place blame on other people. If your boss didn’t give you that promotion, is it really because he doesn’t see your contributions to the team? Perhaps you could be doing more to highlight the value you add to the company, or could it be your work ethic and quality isn’t as great as you’d like to admit?


Get in a New Head Space

No matter where the problem is originating, you need to adopt a new frame of mind if you’re going to work through your current feelings and improve your situation.

If you realized that there are things you could do differently — being more responsive to emails, showing up on time to meetings or acknowledging coworkers’ contributions —  write them down and keep them in a place where you see them to remind yourself each day of your desire to improve.

If the problem truly does originate with your boss, think about what you can do to improve the relationship. For example, if you didn’t get the promotion, you may want to sit down with your supervisor, express your interest in advancing in the company and ask what s/he would like to see from you to help you move closer to your goal.

In the end, you’ll get farther thinking with your head than with your emotions, so keep these tips in mind the next time you feel yourself getting upset or angry at work.