Sunday | 2.18.2018
  Home  |  Current Issue  |  Subscribe Free  |  RSS News Feed   |  Sample Newsletter  |  Business Radio  |  Archives  |  Site Map

Recognizing The Need For A Stress-Free Office

Films and television series often depict an exaggerated picture of the underlying day-to-day dynamic of office behavior..

Some of the behaviors are outrageous but are often rooted in real life.

Many people are clearly a fascinated by these goings-on which reflect the real and often frustrating part of 21st century culture.

Sadly most company leaders don’t realize that much of an organization’s dynamic is rife with drama.
Whether inane behaviors interfere with job responsibilities is another story.

Bottom line: Drama is bad for the bottom-line.
Father-daughter duo Jim Warner and Kaley Klemp, authors of the new book, The Drama-Free Office: A Guide to Healthy Collaboration With Your Team, Coworkers, and Boss, spent the last 15 years researching and conducting intense, candid sessions with more than 3,000 senior leaders in executive teams, partnerships, family businesses, elite sports teams and other environments.

They have identified the six crucial components to creating a stress-free office:

1.    Reward openness, curiosity, brainstorming and collaboration: Judgment and close-minded thinking stunt creativity and breed workplace stress. Leaders need to take it upon themselves to model openness and curiosity. Encourage colleagues to generate options, stay open to new and creative possibilities, and stretch themselves and others outside of their intellectual comfort zones. Curiosity can lead others to new possibilities or breakthroughs. The collective group trumps the singular mind, especially when facing vexing dilemmas where there is no clear answer.
As colleagues sustain mature, curious behaviors, enlist their active involvement in crafting solutions to issues. One of the greatest satisfactions in management is coaching drama-prone individuals into open-minded team players.
Stress-free teams:

  • Collaborate to solve difficult problems without negative judgments or skepticism.
  • Brainstorm new opportunities—taking the go-forward windshield view—without being dragged back into prior failures or focusing on the “woulda, shoulda, coulda” rearview mirror.

2.    Deal with interpersonal conflicts early and face to face: Most people avoid conflict for two reasons: (1) they lack the skills to address difficult interpersonal topics, and (2) they’re fearful that confrontation will make matters worse. So, they resort to e-mail wars or whining to co-workers. Both are lose-lose. And the longer the conflict festers, the worse it gets.
The antidote is the direct, face-to-face conversation, perhaps mediated by a dispassionate third party. The goal in these conversations is to draw out the unexpressed feelings (usually some combination of anger and fear), and helping each party get to their core want: What do they really want for themselves? With patience, vulnerability, and a willingness to set aside their own agenda (see “being present” below), a healing—or at least a truce—will often emerge.
3.    Zero tolerance for cynicism: Cynicism is a poison. It’s grounded in self-righteousness, sucks energy and dilutes productivity. So deal with cynics head-on. Hold the ground when reprimanding them, without being overpowering. Stay direct, truthful, fair and explicit about wants. They’ll likely rationalize or retaliate. When they do, avoid being drawn into a debate. Focus on their energy-draining behaviors and stick to the facts. Make sure all the comments are accurate and sincere, and avoid any judgments or accusatory remarks they could take personally.
Most cynics have a keen mind. Rather than using it to point out flaws and things that could go wrong, challenge them to engage their critical thinking and wit to offer new ideas that haven’t been explored before. Remind them that people care more about how wisdom, experience and awareness can help them learn and grow than how smart they are.
Many cynics have never had any boundaries imposed on them. This is common among bright, high-achievers who are used to acting autonomously. Clear, enforced boundaries may be just the catalyst they need to grow up.
4.    Everyone’s mantra: “I take 100% responsibility for …”: This is the main antidote for office whining and the “blame game.” Instead of complaining, invite colleagues to commit to taking 100 percent responsibility for whatever is happening in their lives—including everything at the office. Instead of retreating to accusations, excuses, and rationalizations, people should choose to explore their own role in creating and sustaining the current situation, especially the parts they don’t like. When people take responsibility, they open the door for positive change. By examining the underlying patterns that keep people stuck, they make room for new possibilities.
When people take 100% responsibility for their life, they can then choose to change or keep behaviors. This is completely their choice. If they choose to change, they might further choose to be more determined, focused and dependable. If they choose to keep a behavior, they accept it as their conscious, intentional choice. Once they’re grounded in a mature, responsible approach to life, they can become a change agent for others’ transformation into stress-free authenticity.
5.    Choose being present over being right: Whenever someone approaches with feedback, even overt criticism, replace the tendency to rationalize behavior with the following mantra (to oneself):  “Isn’t that interesting.… I wonder what’s really going on?”
When conflict exists, people should put themselves in the other person’s shoes and see how their logic makes sense to them, regardless of what they think. Being present also means honoring and mirroring back others’ feelings without needing to agree with them or feeling compelled to “fix” them. Presence is the ability to interact with integrity and listen with empathy.
6.    Celebrate the good stuff: Most organizations are so scoreboard-focused that they skip over the celebration of positive events. They simply set the bar higher and focus on the next goal or challenge. Hard work toward goals engenders positive stress (adrenaline) and negative stress (fear of missing the goals).
A core human need is to feel recognized and valued. Even the most jaded cynic has a part of him or her that longs to be appreciated. So, when good things happen, intentionally pause and appreciate the successes. Bring some joy into the work environment, and stress will evaporate.


© 2018, Information Strategies, Inc.
P.O. Box 315, Ridgefield, NJ 07657