Great article about how one can leverage on EI to handle stress….
If you are anything like me, starting a new job is exciting and energizing. There is that sense of pride that you feel about landing the job. Many of us view a new job as a step forward in our careers. We may be looking forward to a bigger paycheck, promotions, professional development and new challenges that are accompanied by recognition once goals are achieved.
And, if you are anything like me, along with that excitement, you experience the natural stressors that come with starting a new job. Those stressors include first-day on-the-job jitters, feeling the awkwardness of being the new person and your first staff meeting where you will meet your co-workers. Stressors can also come from the self-talk that is running rampant in your head that centers on self-doubt and the what-ifs, such as “What if I am not good enough and fail to live up to the impressive attributes that I professed I possessed during the interview process?,” “What if I will not be accepted into my new community of co-workers?,” or “What if the job is not what I envisioned?”
Fast forward several years. Now you have been in the position for some time and you have not landed those promotions; you dread the daily grind and the never-ending meetings; you don’t even like most of your colleagues that much but you have learned to get along with them or simply avoid them. You also feel like you are being asked to do more work with fewer resources. As the stress grows, your job may make you feel frustrated and disengaged.
Starting a new job or staying in a job where you are unhappy can easily put you in a position where your ability to manage your emotions is put to the test. Once you have been in the job for a period of time, the stressors don’t go away; they just change.
Studies have shown that workplace stress has become an epidemic. A study by the American Institute of Stress found that Americans now work longer and harder than before. The research states:
In one generation, the number of hours worked increased by 8% to an average of 47 hours per week.
• More than a third of workers (35%) say their jobs are harming their physical or emotional health.
• Of those surveyed, 38% say they are feeling more pressure at work this year than the year before.
• Job pressures interfere with personal relationships for 42% of workers.
• Nearly 50% of workers say they need help learning how to manage stress.
The nature of work is changing. Workers need to produce more with less and get it to market quicker than the competition. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reports that:
• 40% of workers report their job as being very or extremely stressful.
• 75% of employees believe on-the-job stress is much higher than it was a generation ago.
In fact, stress is the leading concern for workers leaving their jobs. Furthermore, workers are experiencing physical, mental and emotional health issues, leading to total job burnout, the condition of feeling completely overwhelmed at work. Burnout is now an official occupational phenomenon, according to the World Health Organization.
Stress comes in different ways for each of us, and we respond to stress differently. Acute and chronic stress have different effects on both short-term and long-term mental and emotional well-being. Experts don’t always agree on the definition of stress, how to measure it, what triggers it or how to prevent it. The one thing that I think we can all agree on is that stress negatively affects productivity, absenteeism, retention and overall health and well-being of workers.
Although as an organizational development consultant I am always working with organization leaders and managers to develop strategies and techniques to minimize workplace stress, I believe that emotional intelligence is the coping mechanism that best equips us to manage stress in today’s workplace.
Even with the ongoing efforts from organizations to reduce stress, it is unlikely that it will ever be eliminated. Therefore, whether we are C-suite leaders, middle managers, front-line supervisors, professionals in a nonmanagement role or consultants, developing our ability to manage our own emotions and mental health is where we need to start.
How we view our situation sets off an alarm in the brain. The nervous system is programmed biologically to release hormones that prepare us for fight or flight.
There are various strategies you can use to relieve stress, such as meditation, exercise, having a stress ball at your desk or engaging in a day of pampering at the spa. These strategies, although helpful, are somewhat temporary.
Emotional intelligence (EI) is a social intelligence that enables people to recognize their own emotions as well as other people’s emotions. EI has also been defined as the ability to use your awareness to recognize your feelings and resist impulsive reactions. The research leads us to believe that this skill can be learned and developed.
As a performance coach and organizational development consultant who has studied human development, I am a firm believer that EI can have a significant role in managing stress in our personal and professional lives. The ability to manage our own emotions and impulses to be more flexible, detach from issues that are not in our control and to express emotions in an assertive constructive manner can be a real resource for professionals dealing with workplace stress and job burnout.
With the constant and yet inconsistent changing workplace, I believe the role of EI in managing stress and job burnout can be a game changer. Minimizing poor emotional baggage and improving emotional skills are essential in managing workplace stressors. Developing emotional competence, self-confidence, flexibility, a growth mindset, empathy, social skills and patience are the attributes needed to facilitate resilience, positive attitudes, improved performance and personal well-being. The fact that people spend most of their time at work is a strong enough reason to introduce EI as a professional development subject.
Published by Forbes Council Post on Jun 26, 2019,
By Ann Holland, PhD, Organizational Development Consultant and ICF Certified Professional Development Coach