It happens. You get into a spat with a coworker, an employee makes a huge mistake, or your supervisor does you wrong in some way. While it is ideal to forgive and forget and move on, sometimes it is more complicated than that, and we find ourselves being perpetually bitter and hold grudges. 

Grudges occur in both our personal and our private lives, but in the workplace, grudges can lead to continued animosity, ongoing interpersonal conflict, and ultimately a loss of productivity and morale. It is difficult to get over the feeling of being wronged. If you were passed up for a promotion, a colleague threw you under the bus, or you were publicly criticized, you have every right to feel frustrated. The truth of the matter is that holding onto those frustrations typically affects the grudge holder more so than the person who the anger is directed towards.

How do you get rid of a workplace grudge, and get things (somewhat) back to normal?

  • Address the Situation – As with all situations of conflict, it is important to address it with the individual in question and not brush the issue under the rug. Try to understand their motivation and reasoning behind their actions, and determine if their behavior was a mistake or intentional.
  • Review Your Reaction – After discussing the conflict with the individual in question, and you feel that there is still some residual anger, review your reaction(s) and try to determine if your anger is justified, or an overreaction. While this may be difficult to do on your own as our opinions and emotions surrounding our own behaviors can be biased, talk to a trusted friend or work colleague to get a fresh perspective.
  • Don’t Let Your Anger Spill Over – The toxicity that bubbles up from holding a grudge often can spill over into our work and affect our productivity. Be conscious of this and attempt to keep your anger at bay before it starts to impact your progress towards professional career goals.

Whether it was a small argument that festers and goes too far, or a larger betrayal, grudges in the workplace happen. While holding a grudge is a self defense mechanism, holding onto anger only affects you and can quickly do more harm than good.

Focus on bettering yourself and your own behaviors and responses to negative situations. At the end of the day, we are only responsible for, and in charge of, our own behaviors and actions. View situations in which someone wrongs you as an opportunity to grown and build your own inner strength. There is always a silver lining, and personal growth is something everyone can benefit from.