top of page

‘You burned my bagel!’: how to let go of a workplace grudge

Ever found yourself hating a colleague for the most trivial of reasons? Of course you have. But with help you can move on … article by Paula Cocozza of The Guardian How many grudges do you have at work?The workplace grudge can spring with equal force from small and large hurts. These may range – allow me to try to imagine – from the seemingly accidental negligence of the person who changed the toaster setting in the canteen so that your breakfast bagel burned, to the larger disappointment of being overlooked for a job. In my – former – workplaces, I visualised grudges as small red flags fluttering above the heads of certain colleagues.This can’t be healthy. So why are grudges so powerful, and what is the best way to manage them? “As soon as you point the finger at someone who has wronged you, there are always three fingers pointing back at you,” says Steven Sylvester, a psychologist and the author of Detox Your Ego. According to Sylvester, all grudges predate themselves because they spring from a grudge-ready mindset. A grudge is really “a person manifesting their frustration by pointing it at someone else. It’s a defensive tactic to explain away something we fear,” he says. “If you have serial grudges, that [shows] a strong desire not to take full responsibility for what is happening in your life.” As a former professional cricketer who had to compete for selection, Sylvester has first-hand experience of grudges. He was also unfairly overlooked for a job once – although this was a validated grudge because one member of the interview panel thought Sylvester had been wronged, and phoned him later to apologise. The key, he says, is “to hold the mirror” to your grudge. “What does it really say about you?”Sylvester’s job is “massaging out the pain of the grudge” in workplaces. “That’s what I do every day.” For those who can’t get themselves to a grudge spa (or to talking therapy), Sylvester advises asking three questions. First, what emotions are being evoked by the person you hold a grudge against? Second, what does that say about you? “We inherently want to avoid the truth about ourselves,” he says. This is the time to accept that you could have stepped in to readjust the toaster setting if you were less passive in social situations, or told you could have prepared more effectively for the job interview.The third step is “self-correction”, such as: “I’m going to cheerfully guard the toaster each morning until my bagel is cooked,” or: “I’m going to look at a number of opportunities in the company to upskill myself.” At least after this I should have a clear run at the toaster tomorrow. Taken from the full Guardian article - this can be read by clicking this link: @stevensylvester #Psychology #Leadership #Teamwork #OccupationalPsychology #DetoxYourEgo


bottom of page