I’m cranky today

Is it ever OK to explain your personal situation to your boss, clients and co-workers?

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?

I'm cranky today
I'm cranky today

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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15 thoughts on “I’m cranky today”

  1. I would most likely tell my co-workers that I know well—more of a ‘how was your w/end’ or ‘how was your evening’ scenario…casual chit-chat. I wouldn’t tell my boss at all…I’d just suck it up. As far as the boss knows, you always give 100%.

  2. I would not explain to my boss or my co-workers my personal life. I would vent to a close friend to clear my mind and try to concentrate on my work load. I tend to keep to myself when I’m in a bad mood. Take it a bit slower and really review my work to ensure there are no mistakes. Try to get out at lunch for some fresh air and different atmosphere. When you return to work, you will have a different outlook.

  3. No, I don’t tell anyone. My boss usually knows I’m having a bad day, we know each other really well, as I can tell when she’s having one too. We give each other space when needed.

    I’ve made a commitment to myself 8 years ago to be positive at work at all times even if I have to fake it. If it’s too dificult to maintain a positive attitude I allow myself to take a 1/2 day or day off to recoup. I fortunate to have that ability and never forget it.

  4. I believe it is o.k. to let people know that you are having a bad day, but keep it professional and if you are saying this more often than not then you should step back and take assessment – you don’t want to be labled as the “bad mood” person.

    If you are dealing with a personal situation that may affect your job performance, you should talk one on one with your boss. There are life situations that we all deal with that can affect how you perform at work from time to time. However, keeping in mind that you were hired to perform and need to keep your personal situations in check.

    When I find myself making mistakes over and over again, then I take time to step back and look at what is going on and why these mistakes are happening. Do I need to reorganize my day? Is my desk cluttered? Am I being pulled in too many directions at once and if so, what are really the priorities? I then go back to basics, make a to-do list, clean my desk and organize items into priorities and eliminate the nonsense items (friendly e-mails, e-mails that I’ve responded to, the little slips of paper that I wrote down lunch orders on, etc.)

    It is always better to recognize that you are making mistakes, before your boss brings it to your attention.

  5. Do you tell your co-workers you are in a bad mood today? – I do – my co-workers tend to be understanding and considerate, If I share my mood before hand that saves some hurt feelings when I just grunt as a resonse

    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? – I don’t think that a bad mood is justification for mistakes but I would share with my boss that I am having a bad day. Only because it helps to create a bond and better rapport.

    At what point are you just making mistakes? How often is it okay to get full pay but not give full effort? – I guess if I were just making mistakes and not being effective in my work I would consider taking a “Personal Day” because it is not okay to get full pay without full effort and making mistakes just gets in everyone else’s way.

    What are your strategies for getting yourself out of your mood? – Usually I take a walk, I have the most awesome boss and if I share with her that I am having a bad day she usually comes up with something interesting to help my mood or just shares a cup of tea with me.

  6. I generally do tell my boss and co-workers if I am having an off day – I don’t always go into the full details as I don’t think that is totally professional (can depend on the circumstance of course), but I do give them a heads up. I believe they respect that I do share things of this nature. I make a concerted effort to have this not affect my work deadlines, etc. As this doesn’t happen to me very often they can generally sense anyway that something is not quite right, but they don’t pry if I don’t want to share the total reason for my change in mood. If I find that I am making errors, I will walk away for a bit of time or work on something else and then back with a fresh outlook and complete the task.
    I am lucky in that I do have a person at work, that I can use as a sounding board if I am totally frustrated or just need someone to talk to.

  7. I think it depends on the relationship you have with your team, and with your employer. We are a pretty close-knit group who have worked together for many years, and in this case, I would share, without making it a long wind-blown explanation. I would not share with a client, however……..and also, for those who are living under chronic high stress (which is a really difficult situation so I am not downplaying it)….. please don’t advise people on a regular, regular, regular, basis. Save sharing for the worse days….why?..they will soon tire of it and see it as an excuse.

    What would I do? I talk to God. He knows I can be high-maintenance….”God, I am handing all my stressors over to you for the day so I can focus on my job. If I need it back at the end of the day, I will let you know”. This really does work, and I msut say, most of the time I don’t ask for it back….and if it is a pervasive stressor, it will come back on its own anyhoooo………………

  8. In my work place I would not admit to such feelings. I truly feel if you tell someone that you are not working at 100%, at some point in the future that statement will rise again to bite you, it will be used against you, possibly by another co-worker who is feeling just that way on a given day!

  9. I think it’s completely professional to apologize for less than stellar performance with a ‘I’m having a bad week’… going into detail isn’t necessary, people might not want to hear your reasons, and your reasons for having a bad week might not be on the same level as someone else can handle before they have a bad week, but that doesn’t matter, you are having a bad week and some things are suffering. Besides, I’d rather tell people I’m having a bad week and that why I’m screwing up rather than them think I normally screw up on a regular basis – at least I have a reason for missing things and it’s not my normal performance. As long as it is not a regular occurrence. If every week is a bad week, then some changes need to be made so you aren’t underperforming all the time.

    We are only human after all and bad weeks happen. Most people, I would think, would be sympathetic with a:
    “I’m really sorry about – insert blunder here – but it’s been a bad week. I will – insert action required to correct or fix blunder – as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience”

  10. It depends.

    Someone who regularly shares that they are cranky or having a bad day looks like they are finding excuses to not work at 100% AGAIN. But if you are usually an upbeat, high acheiving, high production person and bad days are very rare, yes, I would share that with a close co-worker on a team. If you are lucky to work with a true team, they would be there to support you and you support them on their rough days. But again this is the rare occasion, not a regular occurance.

    As a team member, I appreciate knowing if my colleague is having a rough day. I will for sure hold off on asking them to do extra stuff for me and would likely treat for coffee at break time.

  11. Yes. I would tell my boss and co-workers that I am dealing with some personal issues. Going into detail would depend on your relationship(s). Most of the time, they can tell when you’re not on your game and I think it helps them to know it’s not a matter of abilities but outside influences beyond your control. Talking with you boss may help prioritize deadlines and maybe even allow delgation to others on a short-term basis.

    We all have times when we want to do your best but physically can’t give it the same energy and concentration. I agree with another comment that you should take a personal day or hire some help at home to get some relief and avoid pushing yourself to exhaustion. Also consider working from home to better juggle responsibilities.

  12. Hi,
    I was at a training session some time ago and the most important piece of information I received from it was “never treat people by how you feel.” No matter what mood you’re in, this should not be reflected in your interaction with others. I try to remember that both at home and at work.
    Have a great day,

  13. I am quite dismayed that some respondants are suggesting that they would share no details of their personal lives (and presumably expect others not to share with them). I realize it is more than a “bad day” but in the past few years my father, mother and husband have passed away. It would have been impossible to keep all of this to myself, although more than likely some people thought I should have.

    My point is that the concept that co-workers need to be there for each other seems to be waning, when people are suggesting that admitting that you are not able to give 100% may come back to bite you! I thought the passage below about geese flying in formation might be worth sharing:

    -By flying in “V ” formation, the whole flock adds at least 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own.

    -Whenever a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front.

    -When the lead goose gets tired, he rotates back in the wing and another goose flies point.

    -Finally, when a goose gets sick, or is wounded by gunshot, and falls out, two geese fall out of formation and follow him down to help and protect him. They stay with him until he is either able to fly or until he is dead, and then they launch out on their own or with another formation until they catch up with their group.

  14. Most people are human… Since I personnaly cannot tell a lie since it shows in my face, I apologize for missing the deadline for example, give a little personal information and promise to get the report to them within the next few days. Always worked with me.

    As for sharing with my boss and co-workers, it is a touchy situation because my spouse workes at the same office as me…. So, for me, it depends on the subject but all my team is very understanding and helpful. I work with a great group of people and I am very thankfull for that.

  15. Co-workers don’t need to know what’s going on in your personal life.
    Make arrangements with your supervisor for a few days off as you’re obviously under a great deal of stress and sick on top of it. You need to take care of yourself first before you can take care of others.
    Delegate as much of your office work as possible and touch base with your client to set a recovery date, explaining your situation to a degree.
    Forget the housework, it’ll still be there later.
    Call your hubby and have him pick up your sick son.
    Go home and get some rest, making sure you’re mother-in-law is comfortable. Have your hubby see to her needs when he’s home.

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