Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 4, Issue 50;   December 15, 2004: Totally at Home

Totally at Home

by

Getting home from work is far more than a question of transportation. What can we do to come home totally — to move not only our bodies, but our minds and our spirits from work to home?

"Not now, I said!" Eileen regretted her words as soon as she heard herself speak them. Her words, her tone and especially her anger. But the damage was done. Little Randy had already run out of the kitchen and off to his room. She followed, not knowing exactly how she would apologize, or whether it would do any good.

Respectfully, she knocked at his door. "Randy, can I come in to say I'm sorry?"

"OK," he replied.

She opened the door and entered. His room, of course, was a disaster. He was lying on his bed, on his left side, his back to her. She sat down on the edge of his bed and put her hand on his shoulder.

A pair of kayakers"I'm sorry," she began. "I had a rough day today."

He turned toward her. "I can always tell," he said, with that four-year-old wisdom that so many of us lose by age five. Randy was still wise.

If you've had a "rough day" at work — conflict, abuse, or worse — bringing it home by stuffing it down inside is almost sure to fail. You probably won't be fully available to the people you love at home, and you might even end up in destructive conflict with them.

Merely making the physical journey doesn't bring your full Self home from work. Here are some things you can you do to help yourself — your whole Self — come home.

If you've had a rough day
at work, stuffing it down
is almost sure to fail
Make a date
If you have trouble at work, talk to someone about it. People at home might be able to help, but there are lots of alternatives — a coach, a cleric, a therapist, a mentor, a colleague. Making a date to talk helps you set your cares aside.
Change your shoes
Begin the process of going home by changing to your homeward-bound shoes. Never let your work shoes enter your home on your feet.
Take a breath
Whether it's before you start your car, or just as you get aboard your train, limo, or kayak, pause and take a long slow breath. Breathe in, and then breathe out that last wisp of "work air."
Smile at three people on the way home
Find three people you can smile at on your way home — a co-worker, the lobby guard, the cab driver…whoever. If three is too easy for you, push it and find your limit.
Travel with someone who works somewhere else
Commuting alone, we stew in our own juices. Better to travel with another. Even better if that other doesn't work where you do.

When you get home, there's one thing more to do, and it's magic. Hug everyone in sight. Twice.

If you have an office at home, as I do, drawing a bright, clear boundary between work and home is difficult. But as you make the transition, you can still pause — and you can still breathe. Well, I'm done for now. Time for me to breathe. Go to top Top  Next issue: When You Can't Even Think About It  Next Issue

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Reader Comments

Peter J. Westerhof
Nice, but I miss one. When coming home, take a shower and let everything wash away. I'm so used to it that I don't feel really home if I haven't showered first.

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See also Emotions at Work and Conflict Management for more related articles.

Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

Prof. Tom PettigrewComing February 21: The Ultimate Attribution Error at Work
When we attribute the behavior of members of groups to some cause, either personal or situational, we tend to make systematic errors. Those errors can be expensive and avoidable. Available here and by RSS on February 21.
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