Bad work situations tend to feel beyond our control. But in her new book, Caroline Webb, a former partner in the McKinsey consulting colossus, argues that they’re (relatively) easy to avoid–using a few tricks from behavioral economics, psychology and neuroscience. When you disagree with colleagues, she suggests, try repeating their side of the argument back to them affirmatively; they will feel appreciated, even if they don’t win the battle. To avoid stress from procrastination, promise yourself a small reward, like a snack, for every completed assignment. And when you get frustrated, pause to ask yourself how you’ll feel about a troubling task in a month or a year; perspective always helps. Webb admits that these tweaks won’t prevent every work catastrophe. But they can improve day-to-day well-being, which can be just as important. “Once we recognize how our thought patterns can affect everything from our perception of reality to the moods of those around us,” she writes, “less of the day seems driven by chance.”
This appears in the February 08, 2016 issue of TIME.