I’m cranky today. This is a rare occurrence for me. Rarer still—I’m admitting it. Normally I don’t tell anyone that I’m not in a great mood. Usually, I just fake a good attitude.

Do you tell people, or do you fake it?

This exact topic came up during a training session I was delivering yesterday. We didn’t all agree, so I promised I would pose the question to you to see what you say. I look forward to your participation this month.

Is it ever okay to tell your co-workers that you’re not working at 100 per cent, and what the reasons for it are? That you’re over-tired, not feeling energetic or even worse, hung over?

Is it ever okay to tell these things to a client? To your boss?

Put yourself in this situation and tell me what you would do:

It’s Friday. Earlier this week your mother-in-law underwent some minor surgery and you took her to the hospital; you stayed with her and generally held her hand throughout. Since the surgery, she has been convalescing at your house. She isn’t a lot of bother, but she does require meals at a much earlier time than you normally eat, she wants you to sit and chat with her in the evening, and you are finding you aren’t able to finish normal chores that you need to get done. So you’ve been staying up later and waiting until after she goes to bed to do your normal evening activities. This is putting you to bed several hours later than normal this week, and it’s catching up with you—you are bone tired. You also have a nagging cold that won’t seem to go away. Your energy is low, you feel lethargic and your throat hurts. You have a constant headache.

It has also been a tough week at work, with long budget meetings that have taken up much of your time. Because of them, you’re getting behind in your everyday tasks at work and your stress level is creeping towards a dangerous level.

Now the school has just called to say that you need to pick up your son because he’s sick. You called your partner to ask them to pick up your child because you just can’t leave work right now. Taking care of your son is normally something you would do, so you’re feeling guilty.

I don’t know about you, but I’m stressed just thinking about this scenario.

So now I want to ask your opinion. Let’s say this is your situation. And to top it all off, you’ve just made a mistake at work—forgotten an important deadline.

Do you apologize to the people involved and then go through all the reasons why you’re not working at 100 per cent? Does your explanation of your mood allow you to get away with a few mistakes?

What about with your boss? When you have your morning touch-base meeting, do you apologize before anything goes wrong? Do you explain that you’re likely to be short-tempered today? Is that professional?

What about your client? You’ve forgotten to send her the information she’s asked for—twice. Do you beg forgiveness and offer your reasons why? Does she even care why you aren’t doing your job properly?

It’s your turn to participate in the solutions this month. Scroll down to the bottom of this article and input your responses There isn’t a right or wrong here, it’s just your opinion. I want to see how you feel in this situation.

In the meantime, I’m getting back to work. I’ve had some chocolate, a pot of tea and a bit of a pity-party for myself, and I can’t stand my negative mood any more. Onwards and upwards!

What do you think?
Do you tell your co-workers you are in a bad mood today?

Do you tell your boss you are in a bad mood, to help explain things?

Is it ever right to justify a mistake at work by explaining your personal situation?

At what point are you just making mistakes? How often is it okay to get full pay but not give full effort?

What are your strategies for getting yourself out of your mood?

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Rhonda Scharf, CSP, HoF is a Certified Speaking Professional, Hall of Fame trainer and author based in Ottawa. She helps organizations feel motivated and educated through her interactive, realistic and fun training programs and keynote speeches. If your ... (Read More)

2 comments on “Do You Put on a Brave Face?

  1. Myangel on

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  2. Courtney Kloehn on

    I have always believed in the concept of “check my mood at the door” when I walk into the office. The amazing team around me isn’t at fault for what is going on in my personal life, just as my family is not at fault for what goes on at work. So, when I walk into the office in the morning, I check myself as I walk through the door and leave any stress outside of it (metaphorically speaking of course). The same holds true when I go home, when I shut my office door in the evening, I am shutting into it any of the stress from the day, because my family shouldn’t have to pay for stress that came from work. I know that sounds too good to be true, but it is a concept that has worked for me.

    As far as missing a deadline, from my experience, it is best to apologize for missing the deadline, and share how I am going to fix it (not why I missed it in the first place). Excuses have a tendency to come off as unprofessional, a simple apology, and action plan to correct, is generally the most professional approach.

    Great question Rhonda! I am sure all professionals see this topic a little differently, but when it comes down to it, it is about that balance between home and work, and being sure that we aren’t using our stress as a crutch for missed deadlines 🙂

    Reply

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