Feeling stressed in today’s workplace is almost inevitable. Think about it, we’re constantly
faced with problems and challenges. Given this, it’s no wonder we’re stressed out, burnt out
and constantly struggling to find a way to keep going.
So what can we do about it?
In this article I’m going to share with you the #1 habit you can develop that has helped me and
many of my clients experience less stress which has enabled us to be better and more
So here it is …
The next time a problem, challenge or stressful situation presents itself, stop yourself from
focusing on “what’s wrong,” “what’s broken” and, “who (or what) is to blame”.
While initially this type of negative and judgmental focus might propel you to action; operating
from this standpoint over long periods of time periods will eventually drain you, increase your
stress and anxiety levels and cause you to be less productive.
So, what should you do the next time a stressful situation comes up …
Say to yourself … “Here’s the situation I’m faced with and it just is; it’s not good, bad, wrong or
someone’s fault, it just is”– then take a deep breath.
In this step, you are training your mind to stop placing judgments on what’s happening.
Instead, you are training your mind to be objective which means your mind is not being
influenced by your personal feelings, beliefs, interpretations, or prejudices.
Once you’re able to eliminate your judgments, which by the way are what would have caused
you stress and anxiety, you have now enabled your mind to be free and open.
Ask yourself … “What are all the positive things about the situation and the people involved?”.
This will for sure be difficult – but stick with it – there are always positives.
In this step, you’re training your mind to look for the positives or strengths of the situation and
the people involved. Having an in-depth understanding of all this is what will help propel your
mind to develop better and more effective go-forward plans.
Now with less judgment and a more open and creative mind, ask yourself… “Where do I want to
take the situation from here – how do I really want to respond to what’s happening?”
In this step, you are developing a go-forward plan based on objectivity, as well as, the positives
of the situation and the strengths of the people involved.
Once you’re able to train your mind to look at a situation without judgment and can see all the
positives and strengths your stress and anxiety will start to go away.
Let me share a recent client example with you to help you see this in action (name has been
changed to protect the innocent).
Jim is the Director of Sales for a fortune 500 company and was reviewing his quarterly revenue
report and saw that his team was only tracking to deliver 80% of their projected forecast. Jim
was stressed because he knew if the team didn’t deliver the forecast bonuses wouldn’t be had
and he would have no chance of getting the promotion he’d been striving so hard for.
I asked Jim, to share with me what he was thinking and feeling about the situation and here’s
what he said:
- I can’t believe how bad these numbers are, I just talked to the team last month about
this and told them what they needed to do to turn it around
- My team is worthless they never execute the right tactics; I feel like I have to do
everything; everything always falls to me
- I gave them everything they asked for and look, they still let me down
- Not getting this promotion isn’t an option – I need the extra money for my family
- Dealing with this team day in and day out is exhausting, I’m tired and I’m frustrated
As you can see from the above, Jim was placing a lot of judgment on the situation, as well as,
his team; e.g. he judged that 80% of forecast was bad and that his team executed the wrong
I asked Jim what he was planning to do to resolve the situation and here’s what he shared with
- Schedule a sales team meeting and really them let them have it
- Require the team to get his sign-off and approval for all sales tactics they want to
Next I asked Jim how he thought the team would respond to his planned actions. As you can
imagine, he said: “Right now, I really don’t care; I just need them to hit their numbers!”
I asked Jim how open he would be to taking a “professional time-out” to re-evaluate the
situation – and he was up for it. I explained the #1 Habit to Reduce Stress to Jim and over the
next hour we worked through the steps together. In the end, Jim was able to:
- Recognize his judgment of the situation and his team and was able to see how much
stress and frustration his judgment caused him
- Look at the situation without his judgment and identify the strengths of each team
- Conclude that what he really wanted to do was schedule time with his team and share
his thoughts about how everyone could best turn their customers around and then open
it up to the team to see how they wanted to move forward and how they could help
Two weeks later when I talked to Jim, he shared with me that only did he get the team together
but that they came up with a couple new tactics they had never tried before and early signs
showed they were working. Jim also shared that since he was able to re-evaluate the situation
when he did, he was able to go home that night and have an enjoyable dinner with his family;
whereas had he not tried the #1 Habit, dinner that evening would have ended up in an
argument with his wife and likely his daughter too!
I won’t lie to you, executing the #1 Habit isn’t easy; but I guarantee if you start practicing it with
workplace problems and challenges your stress will start to dissipate and you might even
improve your relationships at home at the same time!