Letting Go Of Workplace Animosity

Are you finding it hard to let go of something that happened at work? Is it affecting your relationship with a colleague or even your boss? If so, read on for some insights and advice.

On a cognitive level, we are more stimulated by negative experiences than positive ones. Unfortunately, this means clinging to negativity can come quite easily to most people.

This clinging, or dwelling, on negative feelings and emotions in response to stress factors, is known as rumination.

Rumination has been studied in relation to mental health topics and has been found to be a risk factor for some common afflictions. In particular, it seems to be a pathway linking stress to depression and anxiety.

It makes sense: the more time we spend mulling over what a colleague did or said, the worse we feel about it. If we do this continuously and throughout several areas of our lives, it is bound to affect our wellbeing.

The risk is greater when those who ruminate are already feeling down in the dumps, particularly for women. Ruminating over depressive symptoms actually makes them worse. It magnifies a depressed mood, impedes problem solving and inhibits the ability to receive social support.

It’s clear that negativity in the workplace is not good news—it wastes time while dampening creativity, communication and, as a result, productivity.


Clinging doesn't improve a situation, it only makes it worse.


If interacting with a certain person at work is difficult, dwelling on the negatives of what has happened is only going to make it worse. Letting go of what they said or did is the first step to repairing the relationship.

There are ways to help you let go of negative thinking and feelings brought on by colleagues.


In a study investigating effective ways to end the cycle of rumination, distraction was shown to be effective. When you notice you are caught in a negative thought pattern (i.e. “I can’t believe he said that!”) simply distract yourself for a few moments in order to reset. Put on some great music, read an article or book, or go for a walk outside.

Use a mantra

Mantras are short phrases that you repeat in your mind to help you stay focused and present. You can use anything that feels natural to you—e.g. “Everything is ok,” “Let go,” or “I’m moving on.”

Sit quietly, focus on slowing down your breath, and say this phrase in your mind. When you notice you are hooked back into those negative thoughts, repeat the mantra again. Do this until you feel your mind is more at ease.


Some people find visualising images in their mind to be helpful. This might include imaging gathering all of your negativity and animosity together on an inhale into a big balloon. On a deep exhale, let the balloon float away from you, making the decision to let go of all that you were feeling.

Freeing yourself of habitual negative thinking will take some practice. Try out these techniques to start repairing your workplace relationships and use your time more effectively.