For many of us, our jobs are a major cause of the stress in our lives.

The sources of stress at the workplace can be long hours and physical exertion, a demanding boss, coworkers that we don’t get along with, or countless other things.

Whatever your specific situation may be, it is of little doubt that learning how to reduce and manage job stress is an important part of your overall stress reduction and relaxation strategy.

The causes of job stress can be loosely divided into categories such as interpersonal relationships, the nature of the job itself, and unmet expectations.

This article will be a first in a series that will provide the solutions to these various sources of job stress.

We will also discuss general strategies how to manage stress and relax during work.

This first article in the installment will focus on job stress that stems from relationships in the workplace.

Workplace Stress Management – Conflict & Interpersonal Relationships

Communication and relationships with others are a significant part of most people’s jobs and can also be major causes of stress. Whether it is with coworkers, management, or clients, most of us deal with others in the workplace on a daily basis.

As a result, we often find ourselves in conflicts with the people that we work with. These conflicts can be out in the open where all sides are aware of the conflict, or they can be something that we suffer from in silence.

For example, an open conflict is one where you and one of your coworkers dislike each other and both of you are aware of that fact.

A silent conflict could be your personal negative feelings towards your boss that you cannot directly express to him or her.

A key element in job stress management and solving both types of conflict is to find the middle ground and the balance between assertiveness and compromise with the other party.

For instance, let’s take the case of Dave who is a software engineer working as part of a project team.

One of Dave’s team members never completes his work on time, which means that Dave and the rest of the team have to work overtime to finish within the deadline.

This, naturally, generates much workplace stress among the rest of the project team.

Also, for various reasons, the project team members would prefer not to involve upper management in the conflict, which means that they have to sort it out among each other.

Some of Dave’s other team members have already tried pointing out the issue to the person who’s always behind, but they have done it in a highly uncompromising manner with threats and raised voices.

After the team has lashed out at the always-late team member, a fact that has only alienated the person even more from the rest of the team, Dave decided to try a different approach. Dave calmly explained to the coworker that no one has anything personal against him, but that it isn’t fair to everyone else to be working overtime because one person cannot complete the tasks assigned to him or her.

Dave asked his coworker what exactly is the issue that is always holding him back, and assured him that the team will help him resolve the issue if it’s within their power.

In this environment of openness and genuine concern, the coworker shared with Dave that what always makes him late is his inability to efficiently work a certain piece of software that the team is using.

Apparently, with all the daily rush, no one has properly trained the coworker how to use that tool.

The coworker promised that he will do everything possible to complete his part on time, but it would greatly help him if someone could finally teach him how to use the tool properly once and for all.

This one patient conversation has resolved the issue and saved countless hours of overtime, stress, and aggravation for the whole team.

As a result, the source of workplace stress for this team was successfully eliminated.

The point here is that quite often, the party who is causing the job stress is not even aware of it, and once confronted in a calm and understanding manner will most likely accommodate the request.

The key is to remain calm and to be assertive and yet to seem accommodating at the same time.

Another important tip for job stress management has got to do with negotiation and communication within the workplace, or any place else where you are making a request, for that matter.

The tip is that it is always best to give a concrete reason for your request. In the example with Dave, he noted to the coworker that the reason that they are having this conversation is because the rest of the team suffers from the problem at hand, and the whole team risks looking bad with the management.

For example, if you are about to ask your manager for a raise in pay, make sure to address why you think that you deserve the raise.

Bring up any of your achievements and contributions to the organization, and mention why a fair increase in pay to recognize your contribution is appropriate at this time.

Providing a concrete reason for your request of an increase in pay makes it seem for what it is – a valid recognition of your good service, instead of just an arbitrary demand for more money.

Although interpersonal relationships in the workplace can be a major source of workplace stress, this source can often be easily managed with the right approach.

The most important element of workplace stress management with regards to relationships in the workplace is to stay calm and maintain a level of compromise as well as assertiveness where appropriate.

Author: Jack T

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1 Comment

  1. Paul@Training Venues

    The example illustrate pretty well the process to undertake when a conflict rise in your team. Keeping calm and having an open discussion is a key point to solve the issues.


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