Combat Stress in the Workplace
Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2007
By Rachael J. Mercer, Contributing Editor
Craig and Deb Van Batenburg, AAMs, of the Automotive Career Development Center work together to teach their “temporary students” about stress and communication in the workplace. “Our goal is to have you see that you have control over your lifestyle, over your stress levels,” said Craig.
Deb explains that the way things are heard and perceived plays a role in stress levels. She pointed out the differences in how men and women speak to one another and said that there are differences in how messages are perceived between the sexes.
“Stress is not healthy,” said Craig. “If you are stressed, it is part of your lifestyle. Identify the problem and make the necessary changes to your lifestyle.”
Together, the Van Batenburgs and the attendees spent their morning discussing the definition of stress. “Stress is created when we fail to make successful adaptations to life around us,” said Deb. Failure to adapt can lead to stress, and examples include a stubbornness to avoid electronic scheduling tools or an unwillingness to follow new legislation. “We must learn to accept the things we might not want to accept if we intend to succeed,” said Craig.
• Learn what you can’t control.
• Cope better with others.
• Make sure you know what is not negotiable.
• Don’t let your sense of responsibility kill your sense of humor.
• Don’t take things personally.
• The listener, not the speaker, is in charge of communication. Use “active” listening skills.
The Van Batenburgs offer real-life tips on destressing both life and business and suggest ways in which attendees can begin taking steps to eliminate repetitive problems. “Go back to work and answer your phone differently,” Craig suggests. “Ask the right questions and take the right steps to communicate with your customers.”
Craig outlined four coping styles. “Find out the truth about your coping skills,” said Craig. “If they are deficient, work at fixing them.”
The Van Batenburgs provided attendees a “Coping and Stress Profile.” Attendees are encouraged to complete a profile on their own and examine the results, which can indicate needed changes to their stress coping skills and habits.
After completing the assessment, Craig and Deb encouraged students to adopt a lifestyle change. “We can continue to bury our heads in the sand, ignoring the changes that are coming or refusing to accept the diversity of our customers or our employers. But that will do nothing to refresh us,” Craig said. “We must learn to adapt. If you know these changes are needed in your business and your life, develop the courage to do something about it.”