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5 Top Tips For Avoiding Second-hand Stress In The Workplace
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5 Top Tips for Avoiding Second-hand Stress In the Workplace

Have you ever thought you could catch stress? No, well nor had I, but according to a report that was released earlier this year by Psychologist Professor Elaine Hatfield you can 'catch' stress from someone else and it can be as contagious as catching a common cold from someone else in the workplace. Now before you dismiss it, think of your present colleagues or someone you’ve worked with in the past. Is there anyone who you work with who is always stressed by the amount of work and you find yourself suffering from similar stress. Professor Hatfield’s study found that we act as sponges and we can absorb other people’s emotions good or bad in what is known as ‘emotional contagion’. Clearly, if this is something you experience it's not healthy for your overall well-being, so here are my 5 top tips for avoiding second-hand stress in the workplace.

1. Don’t get involved in workplace gossip

Although gossiping is something we naturally do and it’s the life blood of many working environments, getting involved in other people’s gossip can be stressful, particularly if you have to remember what you should and should not know. Avoid it as much as possible.

2. Know your own limits

There are some people who want to share all the troubles of their life. You try and offer them advice, which inevitably they never follow, but they can suck the energy out of you and leave you feeling utterly exhausted. There’s nothing wrong with being supportive, but don’t get so drawn into their issues that you’re then worrying.

3. Wait for the real news

Many organisations undergo huge change at one point or another, and yes it can be stressful. But stress becomes contagious when people feel that they don’t know what’s going on and are uncomfortable about change. However, you have a choice. You don’t have to increase your stress by taking on other peoples. Wait for official announcements. Until announcements are made there’s nothing you can do.

4. Negotiate and agree deadlines

Most people at work have experienced being stressed having to meet someone else’s deadlines. Of course there are times when this can’t be completely avoided, but it’s always important to remember that you don’t work in isolation. Be aware of organisation or department issues that may have an impact on your work and check with your line manager how these could affect you. That way, even if someone else is getting stressed about a deadline, you should have greater understanding of what you can do.

5. Ignore stressful behaviours

It’s very easy in some companies to get drawn into poor behaviours that will leave you feeling stressed. Because someone else is choosing to skip their lunch break or are taking work home, there’s no reason for you to do the same. Other people might want to wear themselves out, but that doesn’t mean you have to mimic their behaviour.

Summary

Some workplaces are very stressful (not always in a bad way), but it’s important that you don’t find yourself ‘catching’ other people’s bad stress and becoming ill because of their issues. Be mindful of how easy it is to get absorbed in others issues and the importance of taking steps to avoid second-hand stress.

If you need more tips for how to cope with stress these can be found at my confidence coaching blog


Street Talk

This is a very good article pointing out the risks and effects to us of entertaining or being entertained by negative behaviors in the work place. Thanks

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
Pierre1  

So true, especially if you are a very sensitive person. The tendency is to unconsciously take on other peoples stresses and negative energies, which is to be avoided at all costs.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
  

Hi Pierre 1 - Thanks for taking the time to comment. Yes taking on the stresses and negative energies of other people should always be avoided. If you do it's a recipe for poor self esteem, loss of confidence and possibly ill health.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
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