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3 Ways to Handle Work Frustration (Without Quitting)

By Daniel B. Kline - Updated Feb 12, 2018 at 4:17PM

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Sometimes taking action can fix a broken situation.

Most jobs come with some level of frustration, but when being frustrated becomes your default state, that becomes a problem.

In many cases, people don't handle a challenging work situation well. That goes for me too -- I have struggled to stick with a job when it becomes frustrating. Instead of working to solve the problem, or at least exploring whether it could be solved, I have moved onto the next situation.

Sometimes that's the right call, but in other situations, quitting simply masks the problem and does not help you grow. That's not to say some work frustrations aren't beyond fixing; there are some situations you won't be able to solve. But you're still better off making an attempt.

A person covers his head with a laptop while holding a small flag that says help.

Work frustration can be solved, at least sometimes. Image source: Getty Images.

1. Talk it out

While I have had some great bosses (and some terrible ones), I've never had one who could read my mind. If you're frustrated about something at work, talk to your boss. Of course, if your boss is the source of frustration, you might want to discreetly talk to his or her boss, or perhaps human resources.

Don't be a complainer, but do make an honest effort to have your concerns heard. Sometimes you will be surprised at how receptive management is to your concerns. In many cases, while  everything won't change overnight, an honest effort will be made to address whatever you bring up.

Of course, if that doesn't happen, you have an answer as well, and that could make taking more serious action (like leaving) easier.

2. Make a plan

Doing something makes you feel better. If you're hitting a wall at work and that's frustrating you, make a plan to climb over that wall. This also could involve talking to your boss or other management types to get buy-in on your plan.

By taking action and giving yourself a list of tasks to accomplish, you can eliminate frustration and work toward a goal. That's easier if your boss is on-board, but even working for self satisfaction can be beneficial.

3. Look at yourself

Sometimes I have been frustrated at work and realized that the problem was me. In most cases I was frustrated that things weren't happening fast enough. Maybe I wanted to make big changes or expected a promotion that had not come.

A lot of the time I was being unrealistic. Progress was being made, but most workplaces move slowly -- even start-ups and fairly dynamic businesses. Step back and gain some perspective on whether your frustrations are justified or whether they are simply impatience.

Don't be rash

There are times when none of these methods work. For example, the boss may be chronically slow when it comes to signing off on work that you complete early, forcing you to work extra hours waiting around. If the boss is the owner and won't change, well, you have to decide whether you're willing to put up with that behavior.

The goal of trying to fix the situation isn't so that you never quit a job. Instead, you're trying to make sure you don't walk away from a mostly good job. 

If you exhaust every option and nothing works, then maybe your frustration is justified and not easily fixed. If that's the case, it's reasonable to consider moving on knowing that you first tried to fix the situation.

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