We usually only hear about workplace stress when something has gone horribly wrong — as the term going postal implies. When you stop and think about it, most of our waking hours are spent working with people we might never meet or associate with in our day-to-day lives. Our co-workers most likely have backgrounds, habits, and hobbies that don’t align with our own. This is why learning to handle workplace stresses is crucial.
Going postal doesn’t just refer to mail carriers. I’m sure you’ve seen news reports in the past where workplace stress led to shootings. A person who is ill equipped to deal with the stresses in their life can snap under the pressure. The result could be a physical illness or an outward show of aggression.
For a time, it seemed the news was full of office shootings. Someone was fired or didn’t receive an expected promotion and then returned to take it out on the boss. It happened too frequently and people became scared to discipline employees. Troublesome employees stayed on for the simple fact that no one wanted to deal with them. Of course, this adds to the stress level at the office.
Workplace stresses are very real and affect hundreds of thousands of people on a daily basis. Now more than ever, people are trying to hang on to their jobs and will put up with a lot of stress to keep it. Unfortunately, as stress levels rise, so do medical bills.
To deal with workplace stress is to first understand yourself and the role you play in the situation. Stress can be due to the workload. People with too much work and not much help are frequently frustrated. What is your job description? Are you doing someone else’s work along with your own?
Know where you stand at your job. If your title is file clerk, you shouldn’t be typing memos for your coworker. That is someone else’s job. Don’t be afraid to refuse work for a coworker when you have enough of your own on your plate.
Workplace stress could be caused by a troublesome coworker. Some people live to make life miserable for others. A coworker who sabotages your projects or spreads rumors about you increases your stress level by making it uncomfortable in the office. This problem can be handled between you and your boss or human resources.
Sometimes, we contribute to our own stress. Let’s take the situation with the file clerk who is typing memos. Maybe they are afraid of their coworker or they have a people-pleasing complex so they type the memos when they should be filing.
Or, let’s look at the troublesome coworker. Someone who is afraid of confrontation or has low self-esteem won’t talk to that coworker or seek help from someone with more authority. They put up with the trouble so they won’t be labeled a troublemaker or aggravate the situation.
It is possible to be happy at work — to enjoy it and get along with your boss and co-workers. Quitting a job isn’t the answer because you’ll run into the same situations and personalities at the next place. There is a set of strategies and skills that can help you to have a better work-life balance and a passion for your job. Take a look at The Happy Worker.