Oh no. It's happening again. That rising feeling in your gut. It starts in your toes, makes its way to your belly, and all of a sudden, before you know it, it's here. The punch.

You know what I'm talking about. The overwhelming feeling you get when  a co-worker does something so annoying, so ridiculously outrageous, that all the forces of evil seem to be spilling from his/her lips. Your hand suddenly swells up and your brain starts to rationalize the action..."Hey, I can throat punch her once, can't I?" 

Unfortunately, the answer is no. 

And, if you're reading this, then you're likely not in jail for following your impulses. So, what then, are you suppose to do? How do you handle co-worker drama and conflict? 

1. Breathe

Stop. Take a deep breath and evaluate the situation. Take four deep breaths in for the count of 4, hold for the count of 2, and breathe out for the count of 4. Repeat this ten times. According to the American Psychological Association practicing meditation outside of work on a regular basis will help you when you find yourself in a tense moment (aka wanting to throat punch your co-worker).



2. Laugh it Off 

Easier said then done, right? Hmmm....I actually had to use this technique quite often with a past associate. Everything she said was negative. I once counted how many negative phrases she used from the minute she walked through the door until lunch time (45, in case you wanted to know). I made a game out of it. In time, I found myself laughing at the situation instead of taking everything so personally. She was just a grumpy, miserable person. And, honestly, laughing at her helped me to not take things so personally that she said or did.



3. Take a walk

It's been proven that exercise releases endorphins and help get rid of stress hormones. So, get up and get moving. It doesn't have to be an hour long session, but maybe go get the mail for the office. Or, walk around the block. Moving the body helps to alleviate stress and helps to remove you from the intense situation. Wear pumps to work? Buy an inexpensive pair of walking shoes you can leave at your workplace. They'll be worth the investment.



4. Call a good friend

I love listening to my friends and their stories about their workplace drama. Seriously, I do. So, when they call me upset, crying, or frustrated about a co-worker, it's easy for me to listen graciously and talk them off the ledge. And it works both ways, when I'm so angry I can't see straight, I pick up my phone (sometimes while on my walk, see #3) and I vent about my situation. Trust me, my reputation and job have been saved several times by the gracious ear of an understanding friend who is removed from the situation.


5. Reward Yourself

If you've ever been around a child throwing a tantrum, then you know the power of bribing. It works, even for yourself. Hey, I'm not saying you are acting like a child, but I am saying that you should take a BIG step back and do some inner monologue. Something along the lines of: "Carol, walk away from this freak-of-human-nature and go buy yourself a Starbucks Pumpkin Latte" or "Carol, she isn't worth it. Tonight go buy yourself a fantastic book at Barnes & Noble". Yeah, yeah...I know not everyone has the ability to go buy themselves something every time they are frustrated with a co-worker (cough, cough, I only have $34 in my bank account right now), but find something to reward yourself with.  Maybe a bubble bath, a movie night (Netflix?) or a visit to the gym.



Conclusion
So, when a co-worker has pushed your buttons one too many times and you feel like a volcano about to abrupt, try the 5 methods listed above to help diffuse your anger. I've been to countless conferences on workplace resolution (even taught a few) and I've read numerous articles on the subject, but, when push comes to shove, I've found the 5 methods work the best. And, when employees or coaching clients have come to me with problems, I typically give them the advice I've just given you.

FYI: These 5 methods work in any tense situation, but, they work wonders in keeping the throat punch at bay.