Reflection: Members of a public service group once described to me the impact one of their leaders had on the entire team. This leader was highly unpredictable. One day he would arrive at work – all smiles and sunshine. The next day he would barge through the door with a heart of darkness – tossing glares, mean words and criticisms left and right as he made his way down the hall to his office.
Net result? Members of the team kept their heads down (literally cowering at their desks) until the boss arrived, and they knew which way the wind would blow that day.
I was reminded of this experience when I read Achor and Gielan’s article on Secondhand Stress in Harvard Business Review.
They describe how our brains are wired for emotional contagion. The up side is that this makes us empathetic towards others. However, there is a shadow side. We end up absorbing negative emotions, stress and uncertainty just like second hand smoke.
Being in the presence of someone who is highly stressed and stressful has a negative impact on our own nervous systems. We start pumping high levels of cortisol through our bodies just by virtue of being a bystander to someone else’s stress.
You might have noticed this phenomenon yourself. The challenge is how to deal with it.
Action: Here are three ways to inoculate yourself against second hand stress. Read More…
This post was written by Pat Katz on September 16, 2015