If Only You Could Reduce the Stress at Work… You Can!

Our main sources of stress seem to come from outside ourselves, they happen to us… leaders overcommit, clients get angry, colleagues drop the ball, bosses change their minds. But what if you could influence the amount of organizational anxiety those stressors generate? … You can!

Neuroscience has taught us that moods are highly contagious – the good ones as well as the bad ones. Recall intense meetings where relationships were strained or bad news just broke. Have you been in this situation and then found yourself very relieved by someone else’s composed response… when someone you respect – likely in leadership – was staying calm? It is powerfully reassuring – it physiologically lifts us – when we are in proximity to a calm person in an anxiety-inducing situation. Non-work examples I’ve experienced include turbulence on an airplane, or being lost and late while driving somewhere.

Challenge yourself to “BE that guy/woman” who injects a bit more contagious calmness into your work environment. It’s ok if you cannot authentically sustain a completely calm, confident response for very long. And you don’t have to have reassuring answers or sugarcoat the situation to justify your calm. Just pause long enough to be more thoughtful and less reactive to the escalating moods and questionable actions of others. Model a response that is calmer than the group average for at least the duration of a meeting. Simply by not adding to the collectively expressed anxiety, you can bring down overall stress levels and their ripple effect.

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