Five Ways to Ease Tension at Work

Most of us want to enjoy positive relationships in our workplaces, yet the workplace is often a source of relational frustration. Here are five tips to help you mitigate some of the tension that occurs in workplace relationships.

Understand personalities. Begin to study the people you work with. What makes them tick? What ticks them off? Over time, you can see patterns and learn to smile about some tendencies. You can also develop strategies when you know what you are dealing with. For example, if your co-worker is very talkative when you walk in the door, plan your arrival time to be a bit earlier than him or her so that you are already busy at your desk when they come in.  Have a boss that is a quick mover and decisive? Don’t go into his office with information that will take several minutes to download. Tell him what you need from him in a bottom line fashion, and then ask if he wants rationale.

Accept that everyone is different. This is not new advice. But we often have trouble making the connection between saying we understand this concept and living it. If you feel a rise in your blood pressure whenever someone thinks differently than you do, you might want to begin to examine why it is so important to you to be around Yes people. Successful companies invite respectful disagreement. It often helps create new ideas and solutions.

Find something to be thankful for. Watch for coworkers to do something well and thank them for it. Make it a practice to say “thank you” at least a couple of times a week. (Don’t overdo this or it will seem insincere after awhile. This is usually not a danger in most workplaces though.) People crave a pat on the back, and encouragers often receive kindness and cooperation from others in exchange.

Engage in non-work conversation. I know an individual who has build great relationships with people she regularly needs info from. They are willing to break their necks for her because she simply treats them well and engages in reasonable conversation with them that does not always center just around work. Yes, you can overdo workplace chit-chat, but relationships are fluid and personal/work lives will intersect no matter how much you try to divide it. So instead, build bridges and relationships that will naturally lead to productivity.

[Tweet “They are willing to break their necks for her.”]

Lighten up. Feeling irritated more and more often lately? Is it possible that YOU are at least part of the problem? Step back and think about why you think the world is against you (or your coworkers.) Be willing to see the hard things about yourself and make some changes.

While we can’t create perfect workplaces, we can do our part to make them more pleasantfor ourselves and everyone else.

Remember:  This is the post that was shared when my Boost Your Workplace Morale book came out. (Note that some promotional info no longer applies, but there is still helpful and fun info!)

Benefit from: My book, Boost Your Workplace Morale gives lots of practical ideas for easing tension at work. You may also be interested in my “Strife vs. Peace” workplace Bible study download. Only $1.99!

Engage: What causes the most tension at your workplace? People, workload, or lack of resources?

Also enjoy (note: I have looked over these articles but this does not mean I endorse all content on other sites):

Seven of the Most Dangerous Words in Time Management

Take note:

It’s funny what you can learn about a person’s day via Facebook.

Here’s the status one of my friends put up (sharing with her permission):

My Day: Wake up and and tell myself to write two stories, find a missing tax file, and fill out a detailed form. Then leave the house for six hours to go to a consultation and then run all kinds of errands—since I’m out anyway. (Do you ever do that?) Now I’ll have to leave again in an hour to take the cat to the vet for a followup. In the end, not a great day for writing two stories, finding a missing tax file, and filling out a detailed form.

My friend fell victim to seven of the most dangerous words in time management. (I can relate.)

[Tweet “My friend fell victim to 7 of the most dangerous words in time management.”]

What are they?

“While I’m here I might as well…”

Any of the following sound familiar?

  • While I’m in town, I might as well go to the dry cleaners.
  • While I’m in the break room, I might as well wash the dishes.
  • While I’m filing this paper, I might as well pull out those old files from last year.
  • While I’m talking with my boss on the phone, I might as well check my email.
  • While I’m working at home, I might as well get five loads of laundry done.

Maybe you are more disciplined, but sometimes I’m a victim of believing that multi-tasking is generally a good thing. I haven’t fully bought into the current mindset that multi-tasking is more harmful than good, although I’m starting to wonder if it is.

The problem with these seven words is that although they sound efficient (after all, isn’t batching tasks or errands a good thing?) they generally derail us. Here’s why:

  1. They lead to unplanned tasks. Notice it doesn’t say, “When I go into town, I plan to (list.)” It’s, “While I’m in town I might as well (list).” Big difference. A spontaneous, as-you-go approach can sometimes lead to more stress, kind of like picking up extra items at the grocery store that weren’t on your list, and your receipt is much bigger than you budgeted. You are often better off making a plan first.
  2. It leads to unrealistic expectations. Just because we are in proximity of a task, doesn’t mean this is the best time to accomplish it. We often think it will only take a few minutes but it often steals more time away than we thought it would.
  3. It keeps us away from other tasks--ones that were planned and prioritized. In the example above, my friend had important tasks planned. But she got derailed by what looks like the efficient batching process and handling things as they come up. In the end, it left her priority tasks undone.
  4. It derails our focus. Spontaneously adding on more tasks takes our minds off the things that we were planning to get done.

How to fight back:

  1. Use a timer. I advocated this in another blog post, but a timer is a great friend. Many of us have smart phones now so it’s easy to find a timer app to suit you.
  2. Use lists ruthlessly. When you think of something else you could have done “while I’m here” jot it down on a task list and stick with your original plan. The very act of writing it down will help you pause long enough to think it through.
  3. Retrain yourself. You probably go through similar errand loops or task sequences weekly. When you get that spontaneous urge to add something to your current process/errands, make yourself add it to the list for NEXT time instead. This will help you retrain your brain to be comfortable with waiting, knowing it will get done in the next cycle. You’ll learn to trust the system you set up.
  4. Give in–sometimes. In other words, add enough cushion into your calendar that if it really WOULD be practical to add that extra errand “while you’re there” it won’t derail your day completely.

Revisit: 5 Ways (Some) Multi-tasking Can Work for You 

Benefit from: Here’s an app we use for managing grocery shopping. My husband and I can sync it so he can always have the latest version of the list. But you have to add things to the list as you think of them to make it work!

Engage: When is the last time you got derailed by “While I’m here I might as well…?”

Also enjoy (note: I have looked over these articles but this does not mean I endorse all content on other sites):

Please share this article! Thank you!

Three Steps to Overcome “Paralysis of Analysis”

Think about:

There you sit, staring at your desk. There are piles of work–reports to write, messages to return, letters to type–you fill in the blank.

You’re paralyzed in thought because you don’t know what to do next. They all seem important, urgent even. Experts call this paralysis of analysis. Here’s the Wikepedia definition:

“Analysis paralysis or paralysis of analysis is an anti-pattern, the state of over-analyzing (or over-thinking) a situation so that a decision or action is never taken, in effect paralyzing the outcome. A decision can be treated as over-complicated, with too many detailed options, so that a choice is never made, rather than try something and change if a major problem arises.”

So how can you use a timer to get moving when faced with several options? Here are three suggestions.

  1. Set a timer for five minutes and do something that will reduce your stress. You’d be surprised what you can accomplish in five minutes. At the very least, organize the piles of work so your desktop is less cluttered. Go get a fresh cup of coffee. Use the restroom. Wipe out those 10 emails that feel like mosquitos hovering. Just be prepared to STOP after 5 minutes. (This also applies at home. Keep yourself in one room for five minutes and pick up, gather, etc. before moving on to another. That’s a tip from our book, Organizing from the Heart.)
  1. Set the timer for three minutes to think through what larger project you are going to do now.Take the momentum you got from your five minute sweep and pick one project to direct it to. Make sure you have everything you need nearby to attack it. Don’t overthink it. Maybe you do need to do the urgent thing that is due in two hours. But if there isn’t anything due within two hours what’s the most important thing? What will either make you feel less stressed, or will contribute most to the advancement of your business today? Ask yourself: in two hours, what will I be most happy about having gotten done or gotten past?
  2. Set the timer again, this time for a longer period that allows you to accomplish a good bit–or all–of the task. For example, if you are supposed to pre-load social media updates for your company for a week, and it usually takes you 30 minutes, set the timer for that and stay focused on the task. If it takes you an hour to write a weekly report, set it for 60 minutes and get to work!

When you’ve completed step three, go back and repeat the process as needed throughout your day!

[Tweet “A timer is your friend!”]A timer is your friend!

Remember:  Here’s another post about using a timer: The 7 Minute Organizing Challenge

Benefit from: A timer app that I have found helpful is Alarm Clock Xtreme. Photo above is a screen shot of one of the screens.

Share: which of your colleagues would benefit from some encouragement about prioritizing and getting things done? Share this with your friend or networks today and tell them to subscribe to receive 11 Strategies for a Less Stressful, More Productive Workday – a free printable!

Join in (at the blog or on social media): When’s the last time you used a timer? Why? Was it helpful? Join the conversation at the blog or on social media.

Also enjoy (although I have looked over the recommended blog posts by other bloggers in my “Also Enjoy” section below, that does not mean I endorse all contents of any other website/blog you link to from my site):

7 Strategies to Help Professionals Stop Stressing Over Meal Planning

Take a look.

Sigh. I had just finished a very full day working at home and my brain was drained. I was trying to wrap things up by 5:30 and then still had to think about making dinner.

5-6:00pm is a tricky time for me. I’m starting to get hungry. I’m feeling the pressure of not having the task list to the point I wanted it to be by now. (In other words, done.)  I am trying to eat healthier foods more often. And cooking dinner doesn’t feel like a relaxing hobby. So what’s a busy professional to do?

Come up with a strategy.

Sometimes half the battle is won in planning. It’s easier to execute good habits when you’ve taken the time to strategize. So here are seven ideas to help you combat the stress that can come with meal planning.

[Tweet “Sometimes half the battle is won in the planning.”]

1. Assign themes to specific days.

Here’s an example:

Sunday: Spend/Social/Simple Sunday (go out for lunch, spend time with friends, have simple meals like leftovers or maybe do the big family meal)

Monday: Meatless Monday (roasted veggies, salads, fruit dishes or quiche can be a healthy way to start the week and provide leftovers to use as sides the rest of the week)

Tuesday: Timer Tuesday (any meal that can use an appliance with a timer, such as a crock pot)

Wednesday: Wing It Wednesday (everyone is on their own…eat leftovers, have cereal, or I guess you could get wings!)

Thursday: Tureen Thursday (Anything that would cook up in a pot, such as soup. This is also a good way to throw in some leftovers from earlier in the week)

Friday: Fun/Finger Food Friday (quick fun stuff like pizza, sandwiches, etc.)

Saturday: Spirit/Social Saturday – (as the Spirit leads, time with friends)

2. Establish healthy routines. There’s nothing wrong with having a power smoothie every morning as your breakfast, if that works for you. So what if others would think that is boring? Find healthy versions of food themes mentioned above and use them. For example, you can make or order healthier versions of pizza. Only stock food that is reasonably healthy. If there are no chips in the pantry, you’ll find something else to eat.

3. Plan ahead. It’s a good idea to plan your meals at least a week in advance. I’m training myself to also plan my lunches and snacks, which can help me consume healthier items than just grabbing something.

4. Always make a little extra. Leftovers are great for next-day lunches and if you make a double portion of some types of meals (like pasta), you can freeze half for another full supper in a couple of weeks. This is helpful no matter the size of your family.

5. Utilize your freezer. Depending on your family size, you may want to get into the “cooking for the freezer” movement and stock up for several days or even weeks in advance. You can also pre-freeze cut up onions and veggies to throw into stir fries, soups and casseroles and have bags of frozen fruit ready for making homemade sherbet or to throw into smoothies. I freeze breakfast portions of steel cut oats, scrambled eggs, and cut up pancakes and fruit to grab as a light breakfast when I’m going to be working in an office away from home.

6. Carry at least one healthy snack with you at all times. Sometimes just staving off that feeling of hunger can give you the strength to then cook a healthier meal.

7. Save money when eating out. Watch for coupons, frequent customer cards, and savings books. We bought an Entertainment book for a fundraiser and have had fun tracking our savings. So far we’ve saved over $100 in about six months using coupons from that book during times when we would likely have gone out anyway. Plus we’ve gotten to try some new places.

Engage (at the blog or on social media): How do you usually handle meals during your busy work day?

Think about:

Why is it important to take the time to strategize about areas that cause stress for you?

Does your company encourage healthy eating?

What snack can you share with your colleagues this week that will bless them?

Do you follow a meal plan for your personal life?

Does your spiritual life play into what and how you plan for your food needs?

Do you agree or disagree with the following quotes?

acts food

Paul Prudhomme Food



Sources: [biblegateway passage=”Acts 2:46″]

Remember:  Last year I participated in a 15-day food detox. Here are 12 things I learned from the experience.

Benefit from: I highly recommend the services and resources provided by Chris DeHollander Health Coaching at Nourish2Live. She uses a variety of means to encourage us to live in a more healthful way.

Share: which of your colleagues would benefit from some fresh ideas or reminders about meal planning? Share this with your friend or networks today and tell them to subscribe to receive 11 Strategies for a Less Stressful, More Productive Workday – a free printable!

Also enjoy (although I have looked over the recommended blog posts by other bloggers in my “Also Enjoy” section below, that does not mean I endorse all contents of any other website/blog you link to from my site):