Working Collaboratively in a Stressful Environment

Dr. Susan Cain Management, Motivation, Professional Development, Training and Development, Two-Minute Reads Leave a Comment

Strategy Tips

Work is filled with demands, changes, constant interruptions, and shifting priorities – a stressful environment. The World Health Organization estimates that stress costs American businesses $300 billion dollars a year.

Even in a work environment like this, however, you can find ways to manage the stress and collaborate to achieve the goals you share.

Let’s look at how stress can creep into your work relationships.

A stressful environment is like the flu. Soon, without thinking consciously, you could build an environment that actually echo’s the stress itself: a place where people protect themselves from each other as a defense against the stress. The viral nature of a negatively charged office environment is hard to stop and hard to work within.

So what can be done to build a safe “wall” around your team that will allow for optimal stress reduction, collaboration, and motivation?

The answer lies in intentionally creating the work environment you want. Here are five suggestions for building a “wall” around your group to ensure that stress does not creep into your group’s daily collaborations:

  1. Set boundaries on the stressors at work: think about the angry client, the reactionary staff member, and the looming deadline in proportion to other priorities. It is important to attend to these issues, but it is one of many things for you to manage.
  2. Clarify your intentions to others if you are stressed and ask others to clarify their intent if they appear stressed. Separate the emotion from the person. Simply saying “I’m sorry! I am so upset right now – it is not about you,” or “You look upset, how can I help?,” can help others understand the intentions behind an emotion.
  3. Take a time-out. Although you can’t choose your emotions, you can manage them. Breathe, take a minute to bring your adrenalin levels down, and calm down. Help others do the same.
  4. Take care of each other. Affirm each other; do unexpected little things like leaving a note, offering a snack, or noticing a picture on a team member’s wall. Informal connections trump formal business relationships.
  5. Focus on the stress as a temporary state to better things. How can the stressor be used to learn? What would it look like if the stressor offered a great lesson in becoming even more effective at your work?

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Dr. Susan CainWorking Collaboratively in a Stressful Environment

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