I’m running out of patience when we need patience the most

A reader writes:

I wonder if you have any ideas about dealing with minor annoyances that don’t seem so minor in the current situation.

Like many people, sometimes I find myself annoyed by some of my coworkers’ habits or quirks that are otherwise fairly harmless (at least I hope it’s many people and not just me being particularly petty). Most of the time it’s pretty easy to shrug off, or at most share a “really, again?” glance with a close coworker when that one guy does that one weird thing he always does in committee meetings.

However, I’m finding that during this stressful time, some of my coworkers are exhibiting these behaviors more frequently, and also that I get annoyed by them more easily and have a harder time letting it go. Most of these are truly minor things, so I’m not looking to confront my coworkers on it or anything — but I don’t want to feel aggravated by these little things about my coworkers all the time, especially since I know they’re probably struggling too!

For context, I feel that my mental health otherwise is as good as one can expect under the circumstances; all my stress seems to be manifesting itself as having very little patience for my coworkers’ quirks. Do you have any strategies that might help me here?

I’ve long been a fan of the work of clinical psychologist Andrea Bonior, who for 15 years wrote the mental health advice column “Baggage Check” for the Washington Post and is the author of the new book Detox Your Thoughts, which uses clinical stories and personal examples to illustrate the mental traps that are most associated with unhappiness. She generously agreed to weigh in on this letter, so I’ll let her take it from here:

I’ve definitely been hearing this a lot lately. Not only is it a very natural reaction to the heightened stress and disruption we are all experiencing, but there may be new annoyances you’ve never had to deal with before (I can’t believe she’s doing that with her Zoom background again! or Why has he not learned to choose a camera angle that isn’t Full Nosehair?) So you are not alone. And while it’s good that you are coping well overall, two things will help you cope even better: managing your physical stress response, and mentally reframing your annoyance.

First, the physical. We’re under heightened threat and uncertainty, which means our autonomic nervous systems are frazzled. Call it irritation, impatience, agitation, or just having a short fuse — but your physical stress response is likely on high alert these days, and that creates tangible ripple effects in your body. You can’t eradicate that entirely, but you can help calm that response in the moment by paying specific attention to where, exactly, you feel things. Muscle tension in your neck? Clenched jaw? Shallow breath? Heat in your chest? Tight fists? The more you can label your individual body cues, the better you can target them through breathing techniques, muscle relaxation exercises or even just a few minutes of dancing like nobody’s watching (because really, nobody’s watching.)

You can also keep the agitation in check by being sure to get enough sleep (and quality sleep at that — put your phone to bed before yourself), upping your daylight and fresh air (in safe ways!), and using your brain creatively in pursuits outside of work-work. Boundaries between work and home are being obliterated, but they’re still important: enact a visual reminder when you start and end your workday, as a mental reset, even if it’s just putting away your laptop or changing your clothes. You may already be doing these things, of course, but often we think that we’re prioritizing them more than we actually are.

Now, for the mental part — which will help you let go once you do get irritated. Create a simple affirmation that sums up what you’re aiming to do: “I am building my patience” or “I can be flexible with people’s flaws” or “When I forgive others, I add kindness to the world.” You can even pair it with a calming visual while relaxing your breathing. The key is to find deeper meaning in this, as hokey as that may sound when on the surface you’re just trying to be more patient with your coworker’s constant throat-clearing. Ultimately, though, connecting with that larger purpose is what allows us to tolerate difficulty, because we can frame it as part of a larger — and very worthy — battle that will help us grow.

Finally, save some of that compassion and patience for yourself. It’s okay to be irritated. It’s okay to have noncharitable thoughts about your coworkers’ quirks. That need not define you. Let yourself have a private laugh at times, or blow of some steam by venting to a loved one. As long as you treat your coworkers directly with respect and empathy, you can forgive yourself for the times you fall short of forgiving them (especially if they’re a frequent user of the word “pivot”).

Me again. This is the first time someone has presented affirmations in a way that’s resonated with me, and I think it’s because these examples reframe your response to remind you of who you want to be.  “I can be flexible with people’s flaws” and Andrea’s other suggestions keep the focus on the way you want to operate, rather than just letting yourself react with the feelings of the moment (and how many regrets could we all avoid if we did that consistently?).

If you want to hear more from Andrea (and you should — she’s great), check out Detox Your Thoughts, or her earlier books — Psychology: Essential Thinkers, Classic Theories, and How They Inform Your World and The Friendship Fix: The Complete Guide to Choosing, Losing, and Keeping Up with Your Friends. (And to be clear, this isn’t a sponsored post! I just like Andrea’s work.)

* I make a commission if you use those Amazon links.

{ 100 comments… read them below }

  1. ThinMint*

    Well this is a savior of a post. I am a few hours away from meeting with my boss. I know she’s going to ask me how I’m doing. And I was tempted to give an exasperated “I’m annoyed.” because I am feeling this way myself. I will now choose to not do that.

  2. Detective Amy Santiago*

    I appreciate so much when you collaborate with other experts in order to give well rounded answers to questions that stray out of your wheelhouse.

    1. old curmudgeon*


      I think one of the best signs of a true expert is the ability to recognize the limits of their own knowledge, coupled with a willingness to bring in others to fill those gaps.

      This is a post that I’ll be sharing with several folks that I know and care about, because it just resonates on so many levels.

      1. TimeTravlR*

        Agree, old curmudgeon, on the “best signs of a true expert” statement! (And your whole post and the one you responded to!)

  3. TimeTravlR*

    So glad you brought in Dr. Bonior! She is awesome. Annoyances happen, maybe more so right now when we who struggle with anxiety may be struggling more. Great post!

  4. WorkIsADarkComedy*

    This is something I’m feeling all over the place, e.g., when folks walk too close without masks, just to mention a daily issue.

    OTOH I’m a great believer of the idea that every crisis is an opportunity. So if I can use this to learn more patience and more compassion, so much the better. Andrea’s suggestions seem like a great start.

    1. Susie Q*

      “folks walk too close without masks”

      This instacart lady kept physically bumping into me at the grocery store the other night (I go at night when it’s less crowded) and I almost lost my temper.

      1. WellRed*

        If only there were a way to give her an online review so that folks using her to get their orders know that she bumps into random people while handling their items.

    2. filosofickle*

      Overall I am super blessed not to be having a lot of this BUT what brings out my ire is people who can’t stay to their side of the f-ing trail when we go hiking. (Which we do a lot. There’s nothing else to do!)

      People roam two and three across, maskless, all over the trail like we’re not in a pandemic. TBF I don’t wear a mask either, because we’re not required to if we are outside and can stay 6′ apart. In the great wilderness nearby that’s entirely possible! We deliberately choose trails that are wide and sparsely populated. But this only works if people are mindful, stick to their side or go single file as needed when others approach. Which, apparently they won’t. Makes me mad.

      1. Gumby*

        Ugh. The one I currently have issues with is the people who insist on riding bikes on a paved path near me. Normally it is more sparsely populated and bikes can go around pedestrians easily. Now many more people are using it (mostly staying 6 feet or more apart – yay) and bikes would be weaving much more. Plus the trail is just barely wide enough for 2 people to pass at 6 feet apart but when a person bikes through the center they are much closer than 6 feet. So the PTB coned off a lane of the road next to the path for bikes. There are signs directing them to leave the trail to pedestrians. And yet, every day, I am passed by many bicyclists on my walks. It is especially galling when they ring bells or yell out as they approach. (Yeah, normally I take that as “warning, coming up behind you” but now it’s hitting me more like “out of my way.”)

  5. knitcrazybooknut*

    Does EVERYONE have the coworker who can’t figure out the camera angle thing? I just have to look away when it happens.

    Thank you for the reminders of giving grace to both others and ourselves.

    1. Environmental Compliance*

      There’s always the one.

      The one that’s too high, the one that’s too low, the one that can’t figure out how to turn on the video, the one that refuses to turn on video, and the one person who can set it up correctly.

      (I say this as the person who refuses to turn on video, mostly because we’re doing screen shares 99% of the time, and I’m afraid to undock my laptop and bugger it all up again. It’s a persnickety critter.)

      1. Just J.*

        Or the one that eats loudly right up close to the screen and the mic.

        I have to remind myself, this too shall pass. And if not the coronavirus, then at least the zoom meeting……

      2. Evan Þ.*

        In my team, most of us are the people who refuse to turn on video. It works out fine when we’re all on the same team…

        Except we’ve got the one guy who insists on turning on video. Hey, he’s got a good camera angle, and we don’t have to look when we don’t want to!

    2. V*

      My boss! My otherwise tech-savvy boos, surprisingly! Luckily we don’t often utilize the camera, but when we do – it’s straight up the nose. Everytime. And I know she has it set to default settings, so she must be able to see her own image. It’s so obvious and out of place I just assume it’s intentional (I like to think it’s a subtle way of discouraging video calls) and pretend it isn’t as deeply weird as it is.

      1. Lynn Whitehat*

        What is with that? The angle up from underneath, almost looking up at the ceiling? How would you even do that if you wanted to? And how do you look at the result and say, “yes, good, this is the image I want to portray”.

        1. Link*

          I have a laptop that has the camera on the BOTTOM of the screen. It’s stupid placement but the specs are good otherwise so just going to have to live with unflattering camera angles! If appearances were really important in my job (like if it were client meetings) I would get an external webcam, but otherwise…not worth it for a couple casual weekly check-ins.

          1. TardyTardis*

            Can you put the laptop on a couple of big books or other kind of booster seat to improve the angle any?

    3. Kiki*

      I’m honestly envious of my coworker who does this. How great must it be to exist and just not care how the world perceives you? In my particular scenario, I am a woman of color and the coworker with honestly impressively bad choices in angles is a white man, so this is probably a manifestation of a lifetime’s worth of differences in how society has treated us with regards to our appearances. But still, imagine the freedom of not even caring if your coworkers can see your brain through your nose, you know they’ll still respect you professionally.

      1. Susie Q*

        “But still, imagine the freedom of not even caring if your coworkers can see your brain through your nose, you know they’ll still respect you professionally”

        I have one customer who is notorious for this and she is not respected professionally. But she’s a federal employee so she’s not going anywhere, anytime soon.

      2. filosofickle*

        I’ve felt that way about I work with a guy who has terrible video manners. He puts his head down so you’re looking at the top of his head or hat. He eats big messy things like salads. He leans half out of frame. He looks bored or disengaged A LOT. And these are important client zoom calls, with just a couple of key people, not some group thing where you’re invisible.

        He makes me constantly think of the t-shirt: Lord give the the confidence of a mediocre white man.

    4. Guacamole Bob*

      So I pay enough attention to know that my camera angle isn’t god-awful, but it’s not great. I am working on a company-issued tablet with a built-in camera that has a little flip out thing to make it stand up, and it’s not adjustable at all. So adjusting the camera angle means propping the little stand thingy with some small item that is inevitably somewhat precarious.

      If I sit back in my chair I’m often in the bottom half of the screen. I try to avoid that on external calls or with higher-ups but with my team members I see a ton of I don’t really worry about it much.

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        I’m also realizing the fact that I have my tablet set back on my desk to make space for an external keyboard and mouse just make me appear smaller in the camera frame than some of my colleagues who have external webcams. I think I’m still within the normal/acceptable range for webcam appearance and angle, though.

    5. Hillary*

      I got an up close view of a vendor’s ear today. He brought his (phone? tablet?) up to his ear because he couldn’t hear. That was something else.

  6. Working Mom*

    “Frequent user of the word PIVOT” – Yes!!! Cracked me up… but so on point.

  7. HoHumDrum*

    I’m sure your coworkers are being more annoying than usual. I find it much harder to manage my most annoying tics and impulses when I’m stressed, I’m sure I can’t be the only one who is struggling to reign in the less pleasant parts of my personality right now. Then, on top of that you’re only seeing them sporadically, so instead of it being like “Bob was annoying this morning, but then he brought me a coffee and told a charming anecdote and thus by lunchtime I’m feeling good about him again” it’s just the annoying bits with none of the buffering.

    So in addition to all of the great advice above that I will now be trying, I’ve been reminding myself to be as patient with my colleagues as they are with me. Maybe they’re all feeling as lost and insecure as I am, getting off zoom meetings and thinking “Why did I do that??” And/or maybe I’m annoying them as much as they’re annoying me, and we’re all just doing our best to stay polite.

    1. JustKnope*

      “It’s just the annoying bits with none of the buffering” — this, +10000. We don’t get nearly as much of the drive-by pleasantries that can often make working with other people much more enjoyable and/or bearable.

    2. lazuli*

      Yes, so much! I *know* that I tend to amp up some annoying characteristics and habits when I’m stressed out, so I’m trying to give grace to both myself and to other people dealing with the same thing.

    3. OrigCassandra*

      You are not the only one. Just when I thought I’d put my snappish tendencies to bed for good and all with respect to my students, here I am having to delay responding to email again…

      I can handle it. It’s definitely taking extra effort, though.

    4. Avasarala*

      Same! On an average day our cup is maybe 30% full, so we can handle whatever the day brings, and if someone else’s is too full and spills over we can help pick up the slack.

      But now everyone’s cup is 80-100% full. Just one more drop and we’re spilling over. We can’t help others or even fully contain ourselves. This is what it means to live in “interesting” (aka stressful) times.

  8. Megumin*

    Thanks for this post! I really needed this – my coworkers aren’t really annoying me, but my kids definitely are. I also recommend the dance party as a way to blow off some stress – my goofy dancing makes me laugh, and it’s a great activity to do with my kids (we’re all into K-pop so we have some very spirited dance parties).

    1. bad dancer*

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who does this with their kids! My kids really REALLY don’t like my dancing, so their reactions are just the BEST.

    2. an infinite number of monkeys*

      Oof, yeah, teenage stepchildren here. They are good, kind, sweet, considerate kids. I struggle with my negativity, knowing how unfair those feelings are. I don’t think we’ll bust out any K-pop dance parties any time soon, but it IS nice to hear that other people are also irritable and grouchy, and read some practical coping tips!

  9. Cordoba*

    I find it helpful to remind myself “I am *literally* getting paid to put up with these people.”

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      I used to remind myself of that when I was teaching. It was part of the job description, though.

      Still having a job and a paycheck is a good thing these days.

        1. Jedi Squirrel*


          The parents are the reason I got out. They got so ridiculous. But kids I can pretty much handle.

          1. Amy Sly*

            Amen. In selling kids’ shoes, the kids were mostly fine; it was the adults that I wanted to strangle. Especially the 50 year old grandmas who would insist on everything being perfect, as if some tiny shop-worn scuff on an athletic shoe was going to be noticeable five seconds after the kid got outside.

  10. Sparky*

    I looked online to see if extreme irritation was a symptom of the current pandemic bug. It is not, so yay, but it is a sign of stress. I’m better these days, but I don’t want to be irritated. Or irritating. We have a lot less control over our lives these days, I’m sure that contributes to having a short fuse. I will keep the tips here in mind, and check out the guest advisor. Thanks!

    1. MissMeghan*

      Same! My employee has always provided way too much extraneous information (I don’t need to know about your cousin’s friend’s Coronavirus scare in some other state when you tell me you need a sick day, my goodness), but I’ve never felt so irritated by it before since she’s on the whole a good worker. I definitely needed to hear this.

  11. =^-^=*

    Maybe this is just because I read the animal cracker update right before this one, but I kept reading “flexible with people’s flaws” as “flexible paws”.

    1. OrigCassandra*

      My heckin’ floof would be happy to demonstrate flexible paws to you. She loves making air-biscuits.

  12. Quill*

    This, but it’s less from my coworkers than from the people I’m shelter-in-placed with… some of them (my mom) think I could easily find a job with health care right now.

    but honestly I’m not sure I have the energy.

    1. Environmental Compliance*

      My MIL is on yet another information diet following telling my husband it was all his fault and his choice to be laid off during this, and in the same breath wanting him to help do this, do that, do this, do that. Deep breaths are about all that’s preventing me from lighting into her one of these days.

    2. TimeTravlR*

      I really miss my kids (grown adults) but I’m glad we aren’t all sheltering together. At least with husband if he gets annoying, I just leave the room. Harder to do with more ppl in the house. Hang in there, Quill!

  13. Tangerina Warbleworth*

    First, thank you Allison for providing such a wonderful resource, and another great response.

    Second, I turn this into Bingo, with dippy little prizes. For staff meetings, for example, I have my mental bingo card filled with squares, each of which is a typical annoying thing, then I play the game as the staff meeting proceeds. You find yourself ROOTING for the annoying thing because it fills your bingo card. Instead of thinking, “Jeebus, Obadiah isn’t going to talk about rubrics AGAIN,” you think, “Come on, Obadiah, mention the rubrics! Mention the rubrics! One more square and I get a Kit-Kat!!”

    Pro tip: when you have a particularly great score, don’t go “WOO-HOO!” until the meeting is over and you’ve returned to your office.

    1. NoLongerStuckInRetailHell*

      This is what I came here to suggest! There was a recent CBS sitcom where they followed 4 couples that were related. One episode was Thanksgiving and the in-laws who weren’t part of the core family played this Bingo and it was hilarious and made them root for all the things that usually annoyed them/ruined the holiday for them. One caveat: hurt feelings ensued when a bingo card was discovered, so keep it in your head rather than on paper.

    2. Skating on a thin edge*

      This is a GREAT idea! This post overall gave me some really good direction, but I love your idea of a bingo card!!

    3. Lena Clare*

      Ah yes, bullsh1t bingo :)
      Some of my ‘favourites’ are “going forwards” (pointless to clarify which direction you’re going in unless it isn’t forwards), and “granular”!
      Rubrics is a good one.

      1. SweetestCin*

        There may be a side text going off Zoom (because duh) about bingo most days. And seconding “keep your wins to yourself or the relevant side text with no visual celebrating”.

    4. TimeTravlR*

      I play MIL bingo in my head a lot… but this feels less mean so I might actually make BINGO cards for meetings. No one can see them since I”m working from home. I can count on a few things showing up at every meeting! LOL

    5. pagooey*

      Here’s two squares to help fill out your card!
      1. Fergus, you’re on mute.
      2. Fergus, please mute your mic!

      If it happens more than once, I imagine myself “king”ing a square, like in checkers. :)

  14. Free Meerkats*

    1. Full Nosehair is my new favorite band name.
    2. When I get something on an online meeting that I’m fed up with, I turn off my camera (must have been a glitch in the system!), do a full Alastor Moody eyeroll to check out what the furry coworkers are doing behind me, and turn video back on. It helps me reset.

  15. many bells down*

    Well this is timely because someone who is NOT my boss just sent me a text helpfully explaining how to save something as a PDF. Thanks I don’t do that 12 times a week or anything.

    1. Amy Sly*

      I had to explain to my 50 something coworker that you weren’t limited to the dozen or so lines in the default Outlook email window — that you could keep typing and the email would expand to include everything. Some people can be shockingly inept at basic office computer skills.

      I’d lay odds the sender of this email just learned how to do this and wanted to share his really exciting news.

    2. Gatomon*

      Ah, you reminded me of an old coworker who’d email a PDF by printing the Word doc, walking it to the copy machine, scanning it to a flash drive, saving it to the desktop and then attaching it to an email to send out. I tried to show him the “create PDF and email” button one day but alas, he declined.

  16. WFHHalloweenCat*

    This is very timely for me. All the usual communication issues with my manager and between my team and other departments are being exacerbated by the fact that I can’t just walk into someone’s office when they won’t reply to other forms of communication. Coupled with upper management’s latest decision to micromanage our department, I don’t know if I can survive until they let us back into the office.

  17. Red Wheelbarrow*

    I’m just joining the chorus to say how grateful I am for this post. I’ve already used the bodily-awareness strategy to help ease my unhappy obsessing over conflicts on Facebook. Looking forward to trying the affirmations as well.

  18. Lena Clare*

    Alison, I’ve said this before but I think you would make a wonderful counsellor!

  19. Director of Alpaca Exams*

    Oh, this is classic acceptance and commitment therapy! It’s a Western psychology take on mindfulness and it’s really good for changing habits. (I think it was first trialed as a way to help people quit smoking.) In brief, you accept who you currently are and you commit to working toward being who you want to be, with exactly these kinds of personal affirmations. I encourage anyone who finds this post useful to Google up acceptance and commitment therapy and learn more about it.

  20. Susie Q*

    “You can also keep the agitation in check by being sure to get enough sleep (and quality sleep at that[)]”
    Dr. Bonior must not have a baby lol.

    1. bookartist*

      Agreed. I am getting a little tired of this suggestion without any acknowledgment that some households cannot guarantee a good night’s sleep. How about some advice on mitigating a crappy night’s sleep!

        1. Look Left*

          Somewhat humorously considering the topic of this post, I found your response to these stressed out parents to be a bit snarky. No one was suggesting the post should be solely about sleep quality. If you don’t want this point to derail the conversation (and that’s valid, of course), maybe it’s worth considering a future post or open thread about parents working from home and dealing with stress. I thoroughly enjoy reading your advice and I understand that some blog threads can get off-top and out of hand, but must confess that I am occasionally surprised at how curt you are in response to relatively harmless comments.

  21. These Boots*

    Oof. Is it weird that this post rubs me the wrong way? It reminds me of Youtubers who post sponsored content without acknowledging they’re getting something in return. I’ll let your imagination fill in the blanks as mine has done.

    1. Oof*

      Yeah, it’s a little weird. I think I see where you are coming from but this is a question about feelings, so it’s completely appropriate. I think I would feel differently if it was “How do I work with my colleague about these Toebean Reports” but this is a good fit. Cheers!

    2. MayLou*

      I’m afraid my imagination is falling short – what do you mean? In this analogy, who is the YouTuber? What is being got that isn’t acknowledged?

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m not sure if I’m understanding this correctly, but this is not a sponsored post and I did not receive anything in return. I asked Andrea on my own if she’d be willing to help answer a letter, just as I sometimes bring in employment lawyers to lend their expertise. No money or goods were exchanged.

      1. TimeTravlR*

        FWIW, I think most of us appreciate you bringing in the experts when necessary. No one is an expert at everything and acknowledging when you need help is a very good characteristic!

      2. Lena Clare*

        Yes, thank you for this different perspective. It’s really interesting and I’ve found it very useful.

      3. lazuli*

        When I started reading the question, I thought, “I really like Alison’s advice, but I would really love to see what additional dimensions a therapist’s answer would bring into it.” I was so happy to see you brought one in!

  22. OP*

    Thanks Alison for answering and Andrea for weighing in! This is very helpful advice and I’m very glad, glancing through the comments section, to see I’m not alone in this…

  23. Fancy Owl*

    My workplace called everyone back from wfh and I’m the only person wearing a mask. I’m finding it hard to let go of normal annoyances because of my larger resentment of this entire situation. I’m honestly starting to feel gaslit by my coworkers, everyone is acting so normal but it’s like, there’s still a plague going on! I love the advice about recognizing the physical signs of stress. I’m going to work harder on trying to relax my muscles when I’m safe(ish) in my office. I’m glad I have one, if I was in a cube I’d be loosing it x10.

  24. Peace and tennis*

    I love Andrea Bonier, but I think you may have gotten the resume part of her bio wrong. She did write baggage check for 15 years, but I don’t believe all 15 of them were at the WashingtonPost. Wish she’d come back though! :)

  25. gf*

    Ahhh… my coworkers drove me up the wall the other week. They were stressing out about Zoom backgrounds and I went to lunch for 1 hour and came back to a 15 email long thread stressing out about Zoom backgrounds for our organization. GUYS. WE ARE LITERALLY LOSING MONEY. Why are we focusing on BS right now? It should be a fun activity with no stress that you do when you have free time. It is not an immediate need!

    Then one person cried because her life is hard at home in our Zoom team meeting (she is fine, everyone is alive).

    Then another person decided to panic about something that wasn’t approved yet and tried to do all the work before we even had the go ahead. Wasted her time and everyone else’s time because she was so stubborn. My poor boss.

    Calm down people! Focus on the bottom line! Stay away from the frivolous and things out of you control lol!


  26. AnotherSarah*

    This is helpful not for my thoughts about coworkers but about my spouse! I’m so easy to aggravate these days.

  27. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

    SERENITY NOW!! Lol just kidding. I’m right there with the OP because a lot of people are on my last fraying nerve. I’ll be doing ok by myself and then viewing/hearing my coworkers/boss/family/friends etc. talk about their stress is what stresses me out. I can’t help and I can’t just tell people to stop feeling their feelings in my direction.

  28. Avasarala*

    The Meditation minis podcast has a short meditation on extending love to others. It walks you through imagining your annoying person as a little kid just doing their best. Really helps you remember we’re all humans just doing our best, with our own motivations and feelings and itches and issues. I found it very helpful to remember that.

  29. Weird Wording Indeed*

    Oh gosh, I can’t stand throat-clearing and sniffling. Perhaps I should try this out.
    Those are really my only gripes. I walked in on someone clipping nails and I didn’t care at all. Chew with your mouth open, it doesn’t matter to me. But for goodness sake please stop clearing your throat and sniffing every 30 seconds.

  30. MommyMD*

    Coworker annoyances are real. I temper it by knowing they are also annoyed at times by me. Right now my only worry is not dying from Covid and leaving my kids with no parents. I don’t care about minor annoyance at all anymore. I had to update my will.

  31. double spicy*

    Thank you for this post! I’ve been exasperated by almost everything to do with work lately and remembering what is within my control is so important.

  32. Always Late to the Party*

    Late as usual but I found this immensely helpful. Thanks, Alison, as always for really going above and beyond helping us address our work issues!!!

  33. OK, this was great*

    What a helpful post. I’m sharing this one around. Thanks, Andrea and Alison (and OP)!

  34. Shelley Vienot Spencer*

    Just wanted to add to the comments about “Freelancing.”

    I’ve been a graphic designer for over 25 years, and “freelance” (independent contract work) is very much a norm in this field. I was a freelancer for 6 years, and now have a full-time job with a large organization.

    One of the best tips I ever received is that it is best not to use the word “freelance” outside of the design/illustration world. People who don’t know how the business works often presume it just means “flaky artist.” It is far better to present yourself as the proprietor of a small business (which you are), or call yourself an independent contractor.

    Set yourself up with a proper business name, such as Jane Smith Design, develop a professional visual identity for yourself, including business cards and a portfolio website, and do everything possible to present yourself as a professional.

    One other thing: “freelance” design can be very lucrative, and it is common for intermediate level designers to bill their time at 50, 75, or 100 dollars an hour or more. If anyone is billing below $50 per hour for design work they are not charging enough for their services, and business people won’t see the value. They will think (falsely) that graphic design, web design, and illustration are just “hobbies,” not an essential component of a business’ image and marketing strategy.

    Also, billing at low rates undercuts other designers in your community, and erode confidence in the profession. Trying to run a full-time business while billing at low rates is ultimately not sustainable, because it just isn’t worth the time or effort.

    If you are skilled at what you do, present yourself as a professional, and if you are billing for your time at an appropriate rate, then your success should speak for itself, and you should have no trouble networking in business circles.

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