3 ways to deal with frustration

You may be feeling frustrated this morning, perhaps even a little angry. You may not be making progress with a project, or perhaps your colleagues are starting to annoy you. Often, you may not even know precisely why you’re frustrated. It doesn’t matter – let’s deal with it now. I get as frustrated as anyone else, but I try to deal with it effectively through 3 simple steps.

Outcome. When frustrated, I take a step back and ask myself a simple, forward-looking question: “What are we are trying to achieve?” You’re probably further down the road than you realise. It is easy to get wrapped up in a particular challenge without thinking of the progress already made. Avoid questions that keep you in the past, such as “Who is to blame?” or “How did we get into this mess?” Instead ask yourself “What is working?”, “What needs to change?” and “How do we get there?”


Attitude. I know it’s difficult, but attempt to strip the emotion out of the situation. Criticism from others, for example, is felt far more personally than intended by others. Instead, think about the positives in feeling frustration – we have all experienced “light bulb” moments through brainstorming challenges, shortly after experiencing the biggest doubts. You need to experience frustration to appreciate progress.

Simplify. The best answers are very simple and very often exist within the knowledge of you and your team – you just don’t know what they are yet. It’s tempting sometimes to look beyond the obvious to an attractive but complicated solution or get bombarded by (or even seduced by the comfort of) clutter, noise and distractions. Remember that frenzied but unfocused activity is an inadequate short-term substitute for achievement.
My advice is to remove all the clutter and strip a problem down to its essentials before moving forward again. So focus on the outcome, adopt the positive attitude and simplify the challenge. Do this and you are already well on the way to moving beyond frustration and on to something much, much better.

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Merriborn Media is a business dedicated to developing clever content, engaged online communities and effective collaborative working and learning for clients. Both Merriborn Media and its founder Trevor Merriden were ranked in the Top 3 of social learning evangelists for 2016 in a recent major study.

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