Health & Family

Lowering stress at work means talking optimistically

Is there a lot of tension at your place of work? Do you dread hearing the flack about the boss, potential job losses, or how bad the economy is?

If so, try to take the lead in cooling some of the tension. Keep in mind that a bad situation cannot be managed by negative talk and feeling down.

“Emotions are catching, like a cold,” says a business consultant we'll call Marcos. “Don't play into negativity, or you'll see the results play out in your own life.”

Marcos was recently hired to cool tension at a company where one employee threatened to kill another employee.

“What's scary,” says Marcos, “is that I could see both sides! The person doing the threatening was a petite lady who probably wouldn't hurt a fly. But, I was hired to diffuse the tension and get this company back to a relative calm state.”

The fact is, says Marcos, most adults are extremely stressed for all kinds of legitimate reasons, so stress management is a basic need right up there with brushing one's teeth.

“If you don't educate yourself about stress, you'll suffer emotionally, financially, and in your key relationships,” says Marcos. “Stress management skills should be taught to small children, to employees, and to anyone breathing. Everybody's under some type of stress.”

Here are some tips Marcos offers for lowering tension at work:

Be the leader on cooling stress. How? Act and speak in ways that tell others this: “I am a problem-solving individual who brings stability to the group.” You'll feel more powerful when you act more powerfully.

Pick up on your own stupidity. For example, if you weigh 115 pounds and you thrive on making fat jokes, realize the pain you're targeting to a co-worker who is overweight.

Show respect when you'd rather scream. If someone is acting whiny or a little crazy, put an emotional arm around this person. You might be the only person who ever shows concern for his or her feelings.

Use positive language to ground people. Tell others, “Sure, our finances may be rocky, but we have to create some options. I think we can manage just fine — if we do what's really going to help.”

Who knows how many people you can influence, if you exude emotional maturity. Besides, when you behave in ways that make others feel better, you affect your own mental health.

Can you imagine electing a leader for our country or your department who is overly negative? It's hard to trust negative people. Why? Their emotions will impact many others!

Language can heal, uplift, and encourage creative solutions. If a co-worker, for example, says, “My spouse has asked for a divorce,” you might help save a marriage if you use the right words.

A boss we'll call Dale told us his assistant confided in him that her husband wanted a divorce. “I didn't give her the usual routine of saying I was sorry,” says Dale. “I said, instead, that I'd like to take her and her husband to dinner.”

At dinner, Dale bragged on his assistant to her husband. “I laid out the fine points of why I entrusted so much to this lady,” says Dale.

The next day, reports Dale, his assistant came back to work saying she and her husband were going to try to work things out.

Dale's only magic was that he opened the way for positive change. He created a possibility for healing.

“I knew this husband was probably in a mode anybody can get into,” says Dale. “You get stressed and tired, and you think a divorce will bring relief. But, I can personally tell you that a new mate brings on a whole new set of problems. Several of my friends are on their third marriage.”