As a leadership coach I am in the privileged position of helping my clients open their minds to new ideas and gain insights into their business culture. But as an objective outsider my perspective often has unintended consequences – in the form of stress.
Initially, my suggestions are met with enthusiasm – but as the underlying issue is understood then defensive behaviour often begins.
It’s Easy For Us To Become Defensive
If the issue is based on the manager’s staff needing more money, then a client might say:
“My staff know what the budget is and they know that there is no money.”
Or if the issue has already been brought up with the manager’s team, they might say:
“I’ve told them a thousand times already – it’s down to them, not me”
A Defensive Reaction Distorts The Situation.
When we’re feeling defensive our ability to take effective action is lowered significantly.
This Is An Issue For All Of Us
It’s not just me. Managers, team leaders and team members in companies face the same experience across the country. These reactions are linked to the fact that confronting where we could do better is difficult.
But confronting situations where we could do better is part of the job. Effective organisations need to be able to do this- without setting off the “stress talker” in everyone’s heads.
The Psychological Aspects Of Stress
For most of us, the stress talker in our head cannot wait to come out to play. If we hear an issue related to work culture- then it’s really going to take over.
The 3 Stages Of The Stress Talker
- The first stage of the stress talker in our heads is to defend and say, “I have done everything I can already.”
- The second stage of the stress talker is to attempt to push the responsibility (dare I say blame) on to anyone it can. “They have to sort it out themselves.”
The final job is to shut down and move to a position of “I don’t see the problem anymore. Nothing to do with me.”
- When we go through these stages we feel stressed…so a bit of a lose/lose all round.
How We Can Bypass Our Stress Talker And Resolve Our Issues Positively?
When we’re starting what could be a tricky dialogue it’s good to remember these key tips:
- Make sure the difficult situation is positioned in an objective way.
- As the communicator ensure you listen carefully for any defensive statements and then re-frame the situation so that it cannot be taken personally
- Stop any backward looking analysis – it doesn’t matter – what we do next does!
- Help the your team member become more open minded – use metaphors to help where you can.
- Be prepared to revisit the conversation, once there has been some time for reflection.
- Be ready to provide support to all those involved.
Understanding The Stress Talker Means Destroying Its Power
Of course one of the biggest gifts we can give to ourselves and colleagues is to understand our inner stress talker – and not get caught up with its voice. We then don’t take our issues so personally and are free to create positive, productive solutions to our problems.
Do You Want To Understand Stress Further And How To Remove It From The Workplace?
Join us for a FREE webinar which will use Herrmann International ‘s Whole Brain®️ Thinking model and the “3 principles” to teach you the cause and effects of stress and give you instant ways to transform your response to stress – enabling you to avoid it altogether.