Advice: "My coworkers and prospects are incompetent, and it's driving me crazy"

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Dear Quota Team

I would like to think that I’m pretty good at sales. I work for a medium-sized company with over 1,200 other sales reps, and am almost always in the top 25% of producers. I’ve been here for close to six years and have won performance awards and gotten promotions and pay bumps along the way. 

My problem, and the reason I’m writing in, is because I find myself increasingly angry and impatient with my clients, coworkers, and (this one less so) management. Even though I close deals and get stuff done, I become absolutely infuriated when prospects and coworkers are incompetent and do things the wrong way or don’t do things they said they were going to do.

I don’t remember feeling like this before. It seems like this started after the pandemic and has gotten worse. It just seems like most people don’t care about being reliable or professional anymore, and assume that everybody will pick up the slack for them.

 For example: I agreed to cover a coworker’s accounts while he was out on vacation, but one of his deals blew up spectacularly for a reason he was absolutely aware of before he left but didn’t bother to do anything about it or even mention it to me so that I would be ready. It’s not only unprofessional, it’s incredibly inconsiderate given that I was doing him a favor by helping him out. 

There are plenty of other examples but the bottom line is that it’s affecting my ability to do my job and makes me miserable at work. Do you have any advice for handling my anger and frustration with other people’s incompetence? Is this just how things are now? 

Furious in Virginia


Dear Furious,

The next time somebody does something that causes you to get angry, you should ask yourself: is this something I can control, or something I can’t control? If it’s something you can control, then you should do what you can to fix the situation. If not, well, you’ve got to let it go.

Sales is stressful and hard, and you have to deal with people constantly, and people, as we all know, can be extremely difficult. If you’re finding it impossible to let things go, then you might want to consider another company, or, if things don’t get any better, another profession. 

And if there’s something else going on, you might even want to talk to a professional counselor or therapist. Getting angry is normal, and you’d probably have to be a bit nuts not to get angry while working in sales. But if it’s affecting your ability to function, then you need to do something about it. Because you can’t make anybody around you more competent. You can only work on yourself. Good luck.

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