Why we are more Overwhelmed Now! Stress

Why we are more stressed now. Do not be a victim to advances in technology.

Written by L. John Mason, Ph.D., Author of the Bestseller; Guide to Stress Reduction

Overwhelmed???

Why we are more stressed now than ever before!

Quality of life has suffered. Health has been affected. The rate of change has accelerated. Productivity can be jeopardized. We are “running” faster than ever and do not feel like we can ever catch up! Personal and professional support is draining away.

We are “stuck” with a “primitive” response mechanism which may never evolve fast enough to keep pace with technology. This ancient survival mechanism is built into our genetic code and has its origin billions of years ago. We still need this response on occasion, but day to day, it may be a major thorn in our side. It has been known since the 1930’s as Walter Cannon described it, the “Flight/Fight” response. This automatic reaction to fight or to flee to save our life is stilled needed, however, the normal daily reactions to less than life threatening situations, can trigger a part of this reaction in a habitual way which is slightly different for each of us.

The problem arises when we ignore the response until our systems have to over-react to get our attention. A major display by this mechanism can look like: tension headaches, tight neck and shoulders, sleeping problems, back pain, high blood pressure, irregular heart rate, stroke, heart disease, asthma attacks, panic/anxiety attacks, stomach problems, sexual dysfunction, certain skin irritations, hyper sensitivity, learning problems, memory problems, communication problems, poor decision making, emotional swings, resistance to change, lower productivity, and increased likelihood of worker’s compensation claims due to stress or on the job accidents and injury. Any of these symptoms can affect an individual employee, a team, a department, or the whole company’s bottom line. 70-90% of visits to medical doctor’s offices are for symptoms that are either caused or made worse as a reaction to this primitive stress response.

Symptoms of stress cost companies Billions of dollars annually in lost time, reduced productivity, worker’s compensation claims, replacement of key personnel, even lawsuits, and internal sabotage from overwhelmed employees. Prevention not only can enhance quality of life, it will also raise productivity, reduce sabotage, and assist retention strategies.

To make a point that we are more stressed today than ever before, consider the ever increasing rate of change based on new information. The “Information Age” was coined in the 1980’s. It has created a revolution of new information technologies. To see this point more clearly, think back to common societal changes since the mid to late 1980’s. Did you have cable TV in 1985? How many channels did you get from your cable provider? How many channels of TV do you have today, with cable or satellite dish? Probably 15+ channels in 1985 to now as many as 500 choices. In the mid-1980’s did you have a fax machine? A “pager”? A personal computer? E-mail? A Cellular telephone? You have probably experienced all of these since then. If you still do not have a “Cell phone,” you are not immune from the increased numbers of them… Just go to a movie, a restaurant, church, a meeting…. everywhere you go people are using the new technologies and probably stressing you out. A big one to consider that did not exist in the 1980’s is related to “cell phone” use while driving. Do you call when driving? Do other people behave unsafely when they are distracted by calls while driving?

Do you remember the early 1990’s? You could get new computer with software and not have to upgrade for 2-3 years. Now, if you get a new computer, it is outdated before you get it home and out of the box. Software upgrades seem to happen by the minute… Have you noticed that there are more coffee and espresso stands in the last 10 years? Is this how people cope with the increase in the pace of change and new information? Are there more cases of people going “postal” or “car rage”, or “air rage,” or whatever new anxiety we experience.

A final question, since 1985 has your genetic code “upgraded” to keep up with the pace of the Information Age? It takes thousands of years to biologically evolve! Psychologically and emotionally we must learn coping strategies to ensure our healthy survival. That is why now, more than ever before in human history, we must invest time and resources in preventing the adverse effects of our own stress response. Though it does take time and energy, prevention is worth the price. We can actually save time and get more done, by eliminating the internal distractions of stress. Also, we need to mentor, as positive role models, our children in these coping strategies that they will require to survive the ever-increasing presence of stress in our society.

There are models of companies using various prevention strategies and finding a return on investment. I know of one study with the company Coors Brewing Company of Golden, Colorado where human resources reported a $5 return on every $1 invested in health and wellness programs. The positive return was based on reduced sick time, fewer accidents, increased morale and productivity. The more subtle cost savings due to prevention of sabotage (and resistance to change) from overwhelmed, disgruntled employees is very difficult to measure, but still a significant factor in many organizations. Often, improved communication, allowing for input from all levels of the workforce, can be a valuable stress management and prevention strategy that leadership is learning.

In house trainers, coaching and mentoring can create a tailored program that will best fit your organization. Outside consultants, coaches, and trainers can assist your organization to build the most effective programs, if your in house staff does not have the necessary training or experience. Consider the cost benefits of reduced: sabotage, health claims, accidents, sick time, turnover, and loss of productivity due lack of focus. Proactive retention strategies, which have used employee surveys, include stress management as a highly requested benefit (always in the top three requested programs.)

If you feel that you might benefit from an individualized stress management program to minimize your overwhelm and stress, consider the Stress Education Center’s audios which include a basic stress management series or specific stress management programs for: sleeping, pain management, anxiety control, and even pre-natal stress management. Check these out at www.dstress.com or https://dstress.com/products/specific-health-topics/.

Key to Communication: Really Listening!

Successful communication in interpersonal relationships can be very important in business and in one’s personal life. This is not difficult to realize as a concept but it can be difficult to achieve. There are many variables that help a communication or make communication go terribly wrong. Some of these variables you can control and some you can not. An example, you may be very focus and clear regarding an important topic of conversation you may have with a client but you can not control the client’s focus or state of mind. They may be busy on “other” things and can not “engage” or focus on what you are saying.

So let’s discuss some of the variables that you can understand and control. Two of the most important ones in interpersonal communication are Timing and Listening. There are many other variables which we will discuss in other articles but let’s start with these two variables.

Timing is key in every aspect of relationships. If one side is distracted or unavailable, it is not fortuitous for the success of a communication. Scheduling the time and getting an agreement regarding this appointment are essential when your communication is critical. If you can not create an environment that is relatively undistracted and conducive to an appropriate exchange then your important message may be missed. Find the best time and space for you to communicate. At the beginning of the conversation, it may be best to ask again if this is a “good time” to talk, knowing that just because your partner has shown up at the appointment it does not mean that they are ready and undistracted. So, checkin. Make sure the table is clear and they are ready to participate. If not, and your communication is of critical value, you may have to reschedule or risk the failure of the process.

Perhaps even more importantly, is the skill to listen! It is easier said than done, but an essential key to great communication is not speaking but listening to your partner. If you interrupt, or think ahead, or find an emotional tangent to distract you, or simply lose your focus, your partner will sense your lack of “presence” and be distracted in a way which may make the meeting destined to failure. Use all of your senses to focus and to listen to what your communication partner is saying. Make eye contact. Relax your breathing to encourage your partner to relax. Respect your partners words and their opinion even if you may disagree. Do not interrupt! Keep your mouth closed until you can assist your partner by asking and “open ended question” to help clarify what they are communicating. Restate what you have heard to make sure you are very clear about what they are attempting to convey to you. Only after restatement and permission to response, is it a good time to find your appropriate answer. Show some gratitude to your partner. As a reminder, shouting someone else down does show intelligence, maturity or respect for a positive outcome.

Hint, for the best possible communication: Listen to your communication partner as if you respected this relationship so much it would be as if you were listening to the most honored elder or even, as if you were sitting in the presence of God. (Some people believe that you can find the perfect spirit of the divine in everyone, if you look for it.)

It has been said that we were given two ears and one mouth so we could listen twice as much. This is critical in personal relationships, friendships, family, and in business. Timing and listening. You are going to be more successful if you remember these keys to better communication.

We will have more to share regarding communication. This is a start. Please respond and try these two concepts in your next “important” communication.

Coaching and training are available at the Stress Education Center, www.dstress.com.

Dangers of Ignoring the Impact of Stress: Why are we in denial?

Have you ever experienced any stress? Is the world more stressful now than it was 20 years ago? Have you ever experience physical or emotional symptoms that are made worse as a response to stress? Do you believe that the best solution to stress is getting drunk or taking drugs?

I ask these questions many times per month to groups I train or individuals I coach. Without exception, people respond by saying that there is plenty of stress out in the world. It can be a distraction and effect physical and emotional health.

Now I ask you, what do you do, on a daily basis, to control your responses to stress? Do you meditate or practice stress management for 20 minutes per day? Most people say that they are too busy for 20 minutes of relaxation. People think that there is some easier way to control stress like taking medication. It is not convenient to practice stress management, so why bother to do it? The other response that many people use when confronted by the challenges of stress is to a point a finger and then blame someone or something else, rather that to take any responsibility for ones own habitual response to life’s stress.

Do not believe me without testing this out for yourself, but most people find that by practicing 20 minutes of deep relaxation, daily, they will actually save time and energy. Research suggests that 20 minutes of deep relaxation can take the place of as much as 2 hours of sleep and the sleep that you do get will be deeper and more restful. When I first heard this statistic I did not believe it, as most of you will not. I tested the statement and after 3 months I discovered that I required less sleep. Instead of needing 8.5 hours of sleep, I was getting rested with only 7 hours of sleep. So I invested 20 minutes and required 1.5 hours less sleep time, so I came out ahead by one hour and ten minutes. Many of my Executive Coaching clients, after I convince them to try the 20 minutes of stress management, report that they get more work done in less time, with less energy, because they are better able to focus and make fewer mistakes. I challenge you to try this activity for 8-12 weeks and find the benefits that will surface.

People resist trying new things even if these “new things” are good for them. In fact, people are so overwhelmed that most of us are apathetic about taking good care of ourselves. We simply do not have the energy to care… Making time, even just 20 minutes per day, is painful and difficult. Motivation is low for using stress management preventively. Stress can cause headaches, high blood pressure, insomnia, rapid heart rates, anxiety, depression, GI complaints, sexual dysfunction, back or neck pain, and poor quality of life, and yet most people would rather develop annoying or dangerous symptoms rather than practice stress management…

Most people have an unconscious need to get beaten up by stress as if it were their badge of honor for surviving our hectic world… There are a few genetic immunes who thrive on stress, with no sleep, and they make the rest of us mere mortals look bad. These “immunes” are in denial and stress will eventually affect their health or their relationships in negative ways. In Japan there is a word “Karoshi” which translates; people who work themselves to death. There is an addiction to work in our society and we need to be aware that the long term consequences of this attitude are high costs to our health, relationships, and quality of life.

When we are younger, we can get away with not sleeping or self-care. We are young and strong and flexible, but as we get older, we lose our flexibility and our strength. We have to learn how to do things smarter instead of “muscling through.” If we don’t, we will pay the price and our denial will not save us from our suffering.

Things in life that are the most stressful are the things that you care the most about but that you can not control. The only thing that you can control is the way that you respond in these difficult situations but this can take time and effort.

Please take your head out of the sand and take good care of yourself. Even if this means spending 20 minutes per day with stress management. It will save you time, energy, and even money in the long run.

L. John Mason, Ph.D. is the country’s leading expert on stress management and the author of the best selling “Guide to Stress Reduction.” Since 1977, he has offered Executive Coaching and Training. In 1978, he opened the Stress Education Center www.dstress.com.

Lower Morale and Reduce Productivity

The basics in a management training program require that there is an understanding that managers can increase productivity by learning to increase morale. Reduced morale can lead to higher turnover (which is expensive,) sabotage, increased health challenges for employees, and an overall reduction in customer service (and sales.) “Old school” managers still try to manage by intimidation and threats to job security but the long term productivity results seem to be reduced due to internal sabotage or reductions in performance. A stressed out staff is more likely to show signs of “burn-out” if managers unnecessarily increase stress and pressure. Frustrated managers who take their anger and stress out on their employees do not get long term cooperation, reliable support, or loyalty from their staff. When there is a re-ocurring pattern of disrespect to employees, managers often create situations that reduce morale and lower productivity by other staff.

Employees are not stupid, in most cases, and a pattern of management disrespect or abuse will not have a long-term positive result. People will learn that they do not want to work in work environments that are made more difficult by abusive managers and poor leadership. Hey, this is NOT SOME NEW INFORMATION. We are coming out of a financial environment which has people feeling insecure and stressed. It is NOT the time to “kick them when their down” as some management seems to do. It is a good time to build support and mutual trust. Aside from business, it is also a time to be supportive of other people, especially employees, which can allow you to feel good just like when you can afford to make a donation to a deserving organization which helps with disaster relief. Yes, disaster relief begins at home with emotional support for the people you live around and WORK with. This is not “rocket science.” It is basic.

What would you think if you heard about a non-profit, community, health service who does not pay their health care providers much more than the minimum wage AND then sets out to abuse these professionals by taking away benefits, and staff positions, and even replaces providers who are off work for cancer treatment? (This comes from a true work example.) Does this sound like bully managers who can not expect loyalty from their under-paid staff? Does it sound like a situation that breeds “burn-out” and people looking to leave this organization? In this situation, I know that fellow providers are supporting one another, but the leadership and the managers are looking like bullies, and no one likes or supports a bully. As said before, the world is already stressful enough so we do not any more stress dumped upon us. Especially, we should not hire lawyers who work for the CEO’s who pretend to care for employees and say that they are saving the organization money by taking benefits from their poorly paid employees.

On the opposite side of this situation, there are leaders who attempt to keep their employees working to save jobs when things are slow. They may even reduce management costs, executive bonuses, and dividend payment to keep loyal employees working. They do not ship jobs overseas or out-source work to save money, where quality can be lost. There are even some organizations and executives who do not fight paying their fair share of taxes so that services that are required by our society can be funded, like schools/education. Sure I sound naive but “doing the right thing” is NOT negotiable, it has to be done or we are threatening to slip further into the role of being a 2nd rate world power with a reputation for being morally bankrupt and a greed driven culture.

It is time to step up to the plate and look out for each other as if we were all working to survive a natural disaster. In this case, though many do not take responsibility for their roles in it, we are in a man-made financial collapse. Our politicians and business leaders can step up and “do the right thing,” but history seems to indicate that greed and a “me first” attitude will win out, leading our economy in “marginal” direction. Lower morale is not just a business challenge but spreads to all of our society.

Getting Out Your Own Way: Find Success

World class athletes are using sports psychology to improve their performance. The stress of high level competitions can create situations where an equally matched opponent may win an event because the stress may block the best performance by his closest competition. A small amount of muscle tension may reduce the speed of a track sprinter by 1 hundredth of a second and make this person come in second. 70% of the training time of these high level athletes is spent in the mental preparation of preparing for the stress of competition. The combination of controlling the impact of stress and practicing positive mental visualization has been proven to enhance performance for athletes, musicians, and people in business.

In my Executive Coaching practice, I am often asked to use tools from sports psychology to help develop the skills that lead to success. For example, I was working with an Executive Vice President of a large financial organization and he found that the tools help him to relax and focus better so he could could get his 8 hours of work done in 6.5 hours so he could accomplish more in less time. He found his productivity went way up. Then he found that his ability to communicate, and to delegate, was enhanced. This lead him to be acknowledged as a better leader for his division. Profits were up. Mistakes/accidents were down. His people’s morale was elevated. All of these good results and success were attributed, in his view, by the coaching and use of sports psychology. It required about 20 minutes a day of his time and it saved him time, energy, and increased profits.

This is not a secret but it does require motivation. It is not difficult, but it does require a new way of thinking and behaving. Business leaders are using these techniques more now than ever before and showing the cost benefits, not only for themselves, but for their organizations.

The secret is learning how to “Get Out of Your Own Way.” There are articles related to this at the Stress Education Center’s website at www.dstress.com (on the “articles” page and within earlier postings of this blog.) You can also go to the website for more information on Executive Coaching and Organization Development.

9 Benefits of Executive Coaching

Why executive coaching? Because study after study shows that coaching works! Executive Coaching is an effective tool for organizations and their key people in making changes in both the direction and impact of their work. It is a cost effective way to assist your key personnel to develop their skills in leadership, communication, strategic planning & implementation, focus and accountability.

The focus of the coaching relationship is on the client, on what the client wants to have happen, and on what will help them to achieve it. There is no other relationship that consistently offers this extraordinary level of support and encouragement. The coaching relationship is often described as “having your own personal navigator for the journey: someone who will help you find your way and stay on course”. Many business and professional people describe having a coach as their own “secret weapon”, someone who keeps them focused and on track toward their goals when the tendency otherwise might be to lose energy or become distracted.

How Can Executive Coaching Help You?
1. Gain clarity about and maximize your strengths.
2. Gain ongoing encouragement and accountability toward reaching your goals.
3. Reach higher levels of performance and results.
4. Become the leader you have always wanted to be.
5. Identify and align your life and work with your values.
6. Set and achieve individualized personal and professional goals.
7. Thwart your “inner critic” and other stumbling blocks which have previously sabotaged your success.
8. Develop and sustain balance between work and personal life.
9. Apply concepts from international research on positive psychology to learn how to become happier and derive more satisfaction from your life.

Excellent Areas for Executive Coaching Include:
• Maximizing performance and results at work
• Developing, and fully utilizing a strong, highly engaged staff
• Successfully modeling and managing the challenge of change
• Starting a new area of business or expanding your current business in new and innovative ways
• Becoming more organized and in control of your time and space
• Preparing for or successfully navigating a career transition
• Developing new energy and stamina by becoming healthier, losing weight and changing your lifestyle for good
• Creating more joy, and revitalizing the passion in work

Executive and Corporate Coaching is for Increasing Productivity:
• Human Resources Departments interested in hiring external coaches
• CEO’s, executives, managers and other professionals who would like a coach
• Companies looking to launch a coaching initiative
• Initiatives to prevent and/or cure burnout
• Companies wanting the support of a coach in any of the following: Strategic planning, process re-engineering; creating a compelling vision; launching and developing teams; or 360-degree reviews.

Also, this is great support for business owners and entrepreneurs who have goals and long ranged plans.

L. John Mason, Ph.D. is the author of the best selling “Guide to Stress Reduction.” Since 1977, he has offered Success & Executive Coaching and Training (using Sports Psychology.) Contact Dr. Mason to discuss your specific requirements and to receive a tailored proposal for you or your organization.

Please visit the Stress Education Center’s website at www.dstress.com for articles on Executive Stress and Performance, free blog signup, and learn about the new telecourses that are available. If you would like information or a targeted proposal for training or coaching, please contact us at (360) 593-3833. www.dstress.com

Toxic Managers an Executive Briefing

Have you ever had a boss or manager who seemed to destroy the spirit of your organization? For whatever reason, their management or leadership style is noxious enough to make their personnel go from productive caring people to people who wish to sabotage the organization. Sometimes these managers are placed in their positions by executives who wish to “shake things up” in a certain department and this can turn out to backfire on them.

When toxic managers work their destructive “magic” on an organization, good, experience people leave. In the short term this may look good because it can reduce expenses, but if you lose good people, and the people who are left are passive aggressive, or more directly focused sabotage, then the organization turns unproductive and ultimately unprofitable. This destruction can be blamed on the “line” staff as an excuse, saying that “THEY” did not cope with change. But the real responsibility lies with the executive who placed the toxic manager in their new position. These executives are rarely held responsible for their bad decisions.

This is not an innocent mistake! It is a calculated escalation of bad judgment, laziness, and fear driven thinking that the incompetent executive rains down upon the department, and the organization. If they did their jobs correctly, they would have had better leaders/managers in position giving the proper training or support in the first place. So the executive is the real saboteur and yet can often sidestep the mess that they have created.

Executives need to be held accountable. They need effective coaching, mentorship, leadership, and support. You know this sounds like advice that politicians, business, government, healthcare, military, and education leadership could all benefit from practicing. Sometimes, poor leadership does not know when to ask for coaching or support. Sometimes their egos just get in the way. Whatever their excuse for bad leadership, they are responsible for the reduced productivity and poor performance of their organization.

Know your people. Do not let toxic managers subvert your organization’s work and productivity. Take responsibility and do the difficult work of finding the “right” people to manage and then let them take credit for their good work. (You can not know your people if you do not know yourself!)

Being a great manager or leader does not usually come without support, coaching, and mentoring. If you or your organization can benefit from executive coaching consider contacting the Stress Education Center at www.dstress.com for an interview that can lead to a proposal that can lead to your success.

Reasons for Corporate Executive Coaching

1. To enhance performance, increase productivity and profits, and career Development:
Accountability partnerships

2. Protect company’s assets from potential legal challenges.
Behavioral corrections: harassment, anger management, conflict management, and “last chance” support for poor performance.

3. Management Team team building: Enhancing communication, EQ, team productivity, OD

4. Retention of Key Personnel (and Loyalty): Incentive Bonus Package, Benchmarking top performers and learning what motivates your key people (to keep them satisfied and productive.) Creating an “Attraction Package” for hiring success (use Benchmarking for selection process.)

5. Honoring organization’s Mission Statement of support for executives, leaders, and managers. Offering “Continuous Life Long Learning” investment, skill development or enhancement (leadership and managing,) and career management (perk.)

Costs of Executive Coaching should be more than offset by increased productivity, reduced turnover, and risk containment.

Areas of Experience with Executive and Management Team Coaching:
• Skills for Productivity and Performance Enhancement – Accountability
• Leadership Development for Executives & Managers
• Communication Development for Executives & Managers
• Sales Skills Development and Accountability
• Meeting Management
• Time Management
• Goal Setting and OD Planning
• Work/Life Balance
• Stress Management – Reducing Stress Related Health Challenges
• Customer Service
• Anger Management and Mitigating Harassment
• Manager/Supervisor Skill Development
• Team Building Skills for Managers
• Motivation Skills for Managers
• Presentation Skills Development
• Career Management
• Leading Change
• Conflict Management
• Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
• Negotiation
• Assessments, Benchmarking Success, 360 Degree Feedback, EQ

Visit the Stress Education Center http://www.dstress.com for more information regarding Executive Coaching. Or Call the Stress Education Center at (360) 593-3833.

Social Skills: Are They Necessary?

Social skills: are they necessary to get along in the society?

Are social skills really necessary in present-day society? Has the use of technology reduced our ability to function socially and to communicate effectively? How do you develop good social skills and use them most effectively?

I am sure that you have experienced people in this world who seem to lack even the most basic of social skills. They are socially awkward and they are lacking in interpersonal communication skills. There are many people in this world who march through the world as if they are the “bull in the china shop,” he socially. These people do not seem to recognize that other people exist and must function in the same world, or in the same space, as they do.

In social relationships, these people may seem awkward and difficult to communicate with. They may seem insensitive and sometimes disruptive. They do not seem to understand basic social interactions and so they seem to blunder through social experiences in often entertaining ways. (It is entertaining only if you have the right attitude and can identify the shortcomings of these people. When you are not in the right mood, these behaviors may be very irritating and annoying. And the sad thing is, that these people do not even realize that they have been annoying or that their behaviors have been lacking in good social skill.

In business, the lack of interpersonal social skills can be a real detriment to success and to long-term positive business relationships. There are many job descriptions where the lack of social skills is more accepted and perhaps even valued, however, it can create very difficult and awkward in situations in the higher functioning business activities. In social and business situations, you are often, but not always, given one chance to make a good impression and can be forgiven for a single social faux pas. Repeated social awkwardness can label you as unworthy for long-term business relationships. Depending on the business situation, there are behaviors, vocabulary, dress codes, and presentation skills that can either support or deter business relationships. If you do not know the appropriate behaviors, your blunders may really get in your way.

But where do you learn good social skills that can help you in interpersonal relationships and business situations? Many children, very early in their lives, learn by watching and interacting with the people in their lives. If their parents do not have social skills or if they are left too long with their young peers, they may find it difficult to get along in school, business, and interpersonal relationships. It can often be embarrassing and from this embarrassment a person can either choose the path towards greater self-awareness and development of social skills or they can continue to isolate themselves. All of us have had our socially awkward moments, but most of us who have gained success, have learned from our mistakes or awkwardness and have developed better interpersonal skills and effective ways of communicating and leading other people. There are even some leadership programs such as Toastmasters where people can develop better communication and leadership abilities. People who refuse to develop these skills can still be successful but may have a more difficult path to follow.

With the use of technologies, more young people do not have face-to-face contact and the opportunities to develop good verbal and nonverbal communication skills. This may cause social awkwardness in school, in business, and in developing important interpersonal relationships. Sometimes we have to quit text messaging and actually sit eyeball to eyeball with another person to learn the skills of both verbal and nonverbal communication. An important consideration is that we learn to trust our gut feelings in social situations and learn to read the people that we are interacting with. Again, there can be many times when we make mistakes and come across as “communication challenged.” We must learn from these important experiences.

Sometimes we need to find a mentor or a coach who can help us develop our own personal insights, awareness, and interpersonal skills. Since these skills are not always taught in school, even in college, we must honor the importance of these experiences and abilities and pursue them to be able to achieve our highest levels of success. I challenge you to find the best situations and mentors so that you can develop these social skills and find the success that you deserve. (Organizations like Toastmasters may be a good place to start.)

Please send any comments or questions to the Stress Education Center regarding these blogs. Please take good care of yourself.

10 Steps to Manage Anger in the Workplace

1. Identify who is angry
Train your managers and employees to identify the behaviors that can signal an anger challenged co-worker and have a positive system that will report these behaviors to management for further investigation. Do not wait.

2. Identify why they are angry
Interview reporting staff to determine whether indications warrant further review. Interview subject to determine why they may be angry at work. Offer positive solutions for individual stress and anger control or refer to EAP if appropriate and available.

3. Find solutions to organizations’ culture as it pertains to anger
Do not stick your head in the sand. Tackle the possible organizational issues that may be creating the stress and anger within your organization and work to solve these challenges.

4. Train leaders to create a culture of civility
Leadership comes from the top down and must address the issues with resolve. If anger is inbred in an organization’s leaders this becomes a difficult but important concern. The costs of anger are too high, in the long run, for an organization to be most productive and long standing. Retention of key personnel becomes an issue, if the leadership creates a culture that tolerates, or encourages, anger in the work place. Legal issues will also become an issue that cuts profits and productivity.

5. Train managers to identify anger and manage teams/individuals with issues
Managers require training, support, and good leadership. Coaching or mentoring managers, especially new managers who have risen from technical backgrounds, becomes an essential ingredient for most successful organizations. This will also reduce turn-over, sabotage, and legal challenges.

6. Train employees to control their stress and anger appropriately
Give all of your employees the tools they need to manage their own individual stresses and anger. Do not assume that they will learn civility and self-management outside of work. Though this requires time, resources, and management attention, it will pay off in increased organizational productivity and employee loyalty.

7. Manage organizational stress and transition management
Learn how to manage your organizations transitions and help your executives and employees survive the stress at work. This will prevent problems and create an environment where positive performance can thrive.

8. Create an anger management program for individuals with clear goals
When someone has an identified anger management challenge, it may be a great management decision to assist your personnel with a anger management program rather than replacing these people or expecting and outside agency to fix your “problem.” Programs can be tailored for your specific requirements. Some have a 2 day seminar and individual coaching if individuals require additional support. Other organizations may have on-going, and mandatory, groups for people identified with anger challenges. External coaches or therapists are often hired for these programs so confidentiality does not become an issue in the work environment.

9. Take immediate action: Zero tolerance of anger and violence
Tolerating anger displays or violence is dangerous. It can send the wrong message and opening your organization up to harassment law suits. Leaders must be strong with this Zero Tolerance.

10. Offer ways to speak out safely about issues to prevent anger and violence (be open to creative solutions)
Create venues that allow people to be heard. Respect diversity of opinion. Create a safe way to express appropriate levels of stress and frustration. Always look to build a better environment and culture.
To implement these principles can require resolve and leadership. Many organizations require coaching and consulting to make these deep changes to their culture. The pay-off can be found in increased productivity, loyalty, and more creativity to problem solving.

L. John Mason, Ph.D. is the author of the best selling “Guide to Stress Reduction.” Since 1977, he has offered Success & Executive Coaching and Training.

Please visit the Stress Education Center’s website at Stress, Stress Management, Coaching, and Training for articles, free newsletter signup, and learn about the new telecourses that are available. If you would like information or a targeted proposal for training or coaching, please contact us at (360) 593-3833.

If you are looking to promote your training or coaching career, please investigate the Professional Stress Management Training and Certification Program for a secondary source of income or as career path.