Letting go of workplace grudges

Harbouring any workplace grudges? Perhaps you’re struggling to let go of that one thing your colleague did last week…or year?!

This is an important topic for every stage of your career. Your grudges can get in the way of your job search (for instance, making you appear negative during interviews), as well as being a nuisance for your daily tasks, workplace relationships, and even your promotion opportunities.

So what exactly is a workplace grudge?

Well, we all loosely know what a grudge is. It’s defined as ‘a persistent feeling of ill will or resentment resulting from a past insult or injury.’

But really, what is at the root of a grudge? According to psychologist Steven Sylvester, it’s actually when someone is “manifesting their frustration by pointing it at someone else. It’s a defensive tactic to explain away something we fear. If you have serial grudges, that shows a strong desire not to take full responsibility for what is happening in your life.”

This may sound far-fetched to you. Yet it’s worth asking yourself the following question, as posed by Sylvester – what does your grudge say about you?

For example, say your colleague embarrassed you in a team meeting. The colleague is clearly at fault for their actions, yet there’s also fear at the root of your response. You could be concerned about appearing foolish or maybe already worry that your superiors doubt your abilities.

Sylvester goes on to suggest 3 questions for each of your workplace grudges:

  1. What emotions are sparked by the person you’re holding the grudge against?
  2. What does that say about you?
  3. Plus how can you ‘self-correct’ the situation? In other words, what could you do in the future to alleviate the problem or prevent your grudge from taking hold?

If this sounds like too much hard work, it’s worth considering what could happen if you leave your grudges to fester…

The Plum has an article that highlights many of the ways workplace grudges can negatively affect the grudge holder:

  • By limiting workplace productivity
  • Making it harder to concentrate and problem-solve
  • Possibly also contributing to ‘chronic inflammation, high blood pressure and an elevated heart rate’.

They also offer another great piece of advice: “if the grudge relates to your current work situation, let it motivate you to work towards what you want.”

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