Aurelia Flores: How to Let It All Hang Out at Work (Kind Of)



We all have days when we feel like we’re going to BURST! Either one of your co-workers did something incredibly stupid, or you got the blame for something you didn’t do, or you receive an email that ticks you off.(I’m sure you can fill in the list for your workplace!)

At times like these, we need to let off some steam, and perhaps get some good feedback. This is the time you need a safe haven, and someone who can listen.

You DON’T want to respond immediately to the situation that angered you – we’ve probably all had times when we reacted in haste, and it didn’t go so well, but you need to do something.

This is precisely the reason for a “best friend” at work – someone’s who’s got your back, appreciates who you are and what you do, and will NOT share your business with others.  

This person can offer you an incredible amount of valuable support -- especially at times when you’re upset, angry, disgusted, frustrated and out of sorts.  

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It’s important that this work friend doesn’t simply join in the complaining, and make you feel worse. It’s equally important that this person doesn’t hold against you what you say in a time of anger, or tell co-workers what you said.

Once you have the right person, however, they are invaluable and a true work gem (and will save your hide more than once).


This buddy is exactly the person you want to go to when you need to just let off some steam. You go to him or her to complain, moan, whine and express all your frustration from time to time.

Often, simply saying your concerns out loud makes you feel better. By getting it all off your chest, you can lighten your load (and hear how it sounds out loud and not in your head).

Get Perspective

Your colleague is also someone who, after letting you vent for a bit, can give a bit of feedback. Maybe you jumped to conclusions, or perhaps you really need to find an ally to take up your cause.

Or maybe it’s nothing you can do anything about, and you just need to know that you’re doing your best (and aren’t crazy).

Get Advice

This is also the person who might be able to give you advice and point you in the right direction. If she’s heard you complain about a certain issue on a particular project over and over, then she might be able to point out that it’s a recurring problem and you need to talk to the person in charge of the project.

Or perhaps it’s time to address the problem head on – but when you’re calm.

Make sure to take care of this friend, and be there for her when she needs you, too. And be the kind of listening board she needs – don’t jump in too soon with perspective or advice. Sometimes we just need to vent.

But beware if you’re complaining too much and too often. If that’s the case, you may need to start looking for another position.

How do YOU let it all hang out at work? And in whom do you confide?

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Aurelia Flores is Senior Counsel at a Fortune 500 company and former Fulbright Fellow who graduated from Stanford Law School. Her website,, offers stories of success, along with resources and programs focused on Latino empowerment.


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