Unfortunate and saddening events happen to everyone and sometimes you just want to cry about it, however, the office or a work event are not one of the places or times to do it. The ability to compartmentalize your feelings until an appropriate time is a skill that even the most successful businessmen (and women) are hard pressed to be experts on so don’t worry if you aren’t a pro…yet.
Sometimes things happen and all you want to do is cry or retaliate at the drop of a hat but that can’t happen when you have work to do. However, the nice thing about having work to do is that you have a diversion or something to get your mind off of personal life aspects. This can be quite convenient when you have something happen that you just don’t want to think about, like death.
I recently lost my dog 2 hours before I was scheduled to work an event. At this event I would not only be in public with my employers but clients as well so the ability to keep my composure was vital at that moment and I wasn’t sure if I could handle it. Luckily for me, there was still one ounce of rationale left in me after Hobbes’ (my dog) passing and I knew what I had to do, get my mind off of him. (No, I am not heartless, quite the contrary) What I have now realized was that at that time, I wasn’t able to fully handle the loss of my dog, and what I needed was a diversion. Focusing on something else would allow me to subconsciously sort out my feelings about Hobbes’ death before I was consciously ready to handle them. Although my boss said I could have the night off, I know that both he and my family knew that the best thing for me was to work the event because it would force me to get my mind off of the negative events of that day and have something to smile about. Boy, do I know some smart people! (For the record: I absolutely love my job and am always smiling when I’m doing my job)
In the end, the event went off with a smash, the client and involved parties from work were pleased and I had pulled of the king of all ruses…that everything was hunky dory. Only the DJ (my boss) and myself knew that behind my smile and bubbly personality was a girl dying to hug her doggy one last time. I think that if I was able to fool hundreds of people that night that everything was alright, then I have succeeded in the ability to compartmentalize my feelings when it comes down to crunch time.
A skill like this can actually be practiced but you need to force yourself because when disaster strikes and you need to focus on work, you are really going to hope you have perfected the skill of compartmentalizing. Start off easy like get your mind off of grocery shopping or paying bills. You can also try doing it with relationships (the ability to divert feelings after a breakup is really helpful in life) Its a lot harder than I make it sound, this is why you need to practice. The ability to divert your thoughts is more about the rational than the complete loss of thought. You need to tell yourself that you cannot focus on personal things until you are done with work and just put all your energy into work. After all, you can’t pay your bills without money and you can’t get money if you don’t work. Same thing goes for grocery shopping, unless there is a market inside your cubicle, you can’t go grocery shopping at work so it’s going to have to wait.
The nice thing about having work to focus on is that you can put all your effort and energy into work rather than what you have going on in your personal life. Don’t forget that it took time for the problem to develop and it will take time to solve.
So yes, while losing a loved one or breaking up with someone is sad, there is a time and place for everything and work is neither one of them so the ability to compartmentalize your feelings is vital.