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Stress at Work

A nationwide poll by the American Psychological Association found that three-quarters of Americans list work as a significant source of stress. Workers also reported that their productivity at work suffered due to the stress on the job. Some didn’t even use their accrued vacation time and considered looking for another job because of the stress. So, what does all that mean? It means that we are not effectively managing the stress that comes our way at work. 

A primary predictor of stress on the job can involve our relationship with our manager. The American Psychological Association has some valuable tips to offer us on how to manage a relationship with a difficult boss, leaving work each day with a feeling of wholeness. If you are working with a difficult boss, see if some of the ideas presented below may be helpful to you:

In successfully managing a difficult boss, you should first try to understand the reasons for your boss’ behavior. Maybe, if she is generally very reasonable, the behavior may be a result of her own work stressors, rather than her character. In this case, behavioral change is possible. But if your boss’ behavior appears to be chronically hostile and she has an abusive style of interacting, regardless of stress in the workplace, the possibilities for change can be limited. You may want to speak with a counselor to examine your options in this case. Second, you need to manage your own negative emotions regarding her behavior, so that you don’t begin self-defeating behavior, such as stonewalling or attacking your boss. Third, now that you know how to reflect on and stop your own negative reactions, work to communicate your issues or concerns, but approach this from a problem resolution point of view – not just stating a problem.

If you feel you have been criticized by your boss, the best way to handle this is to discuss your concerns, not confront your boss. There is a difference. Like any other type of relationship, present your concerns with preserving the relationship always in mind. Try to see criticism as valuable information about how you may improve your work experience – not as a personal attack. Try to separate your personal self from your business self. Work hard to control your inclination to react emotionally or defensively – as difficult as that may be in some instances. See the criticism as an opportunity to work together, partnering with your boss on a development plan. It does help to identify yourself as somewhat of a “partner”, rather than a “victim” of a power struggle.


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