Strategies so you are not adding to unnecessary workplace stress

Relentless monitoring of your colleagues makes them feel hounded and mistrusted

If someone doesn’t know the full context of a situation, vague messages are often read like a Rorschach test, with fears and interpretations piled on

If someone doesn’t know the full context of a situation, vague messages are often read like a Rorschach test, with fears and interpretations piled on

 

In a world of tight deadlines it’s no wonder that some of your stress might seep out and affect your colleagues. But you risk feeding into a vicious circle in which you and your co-workers mirror and magnify each other’s frenzy.

You can’t control their behaviour, but you can take charge of your own. Here are three subtle but powerful strategies to ensure you’re not contributing to unnecessary stress in the workplace.

1. Stop being vague: If someone doesn’t know the full context of a situation, vague messages are often read like a Rorschach test, with fears and interpretations piled on. If you send a late-night email to a co-worker that says “we need to talk” without further explanation, that can trigger an unhelpful cascade: “Is there a problem? What did I do?”

Vagueness inflicts an inexcusable psychic toll. To be a better colleague, stop doing it.

2.Triage your responses: Even if you have sworn off email for days or weeks to accomplish a priority mission, spend at least 15 minutes a day tagging the most important, time-sensitive messages that have come in so that you can respond appropriately. That marks you as a team player and makes everyone’s life easier – including your own.

3. Stop watching the kettle boil: Just as it’s damaging to neglect communication, as above, and let your colleagues languish without your necessary input, it’s just as bad to monitor them relentlessly. It may come from a laudable impulse, but it will make your colleagues feel hounded, mistrusted and micromanaged.

Recognise that responsible professionals thrive when they’re given autonomy, and work with them to establish a timeline and agreed-upon metrics of progress. – Copyright Harvard Business Review 2017