Is Your Stress Causing Professional Conflicts?

Stress Conflicts
[Copyrighted photo courtesy of: Georgie Sharp]

We all have our own way of reacting when we’re stressed:

  • Impatient
  • Short-tempered
  • Defensive
  • Suspicious
  • Weepy
  • Avoidant
  • and much more

Humans are emotionally-driven creatures, and our feelings teach us a lot about ourselves and our world–but how we express our feelings also impacts our world.

I’ve had several professional encounters recently that have really made that point hit home with me…

In this example, I was offering help to someone (not a client) who expressed interest in having a meeting with me. Imagine how shocked I was when I showed up for the call, they hadn’t, and was met by an extremely angry and abusive person ranting about how they knew they had an appointment, but dismissed it without calling me because they had to work at their business that day. Then they launched into a tirade about how horrible the staff was, how awful running their type of business is, etc. I backed away as quickly as possible, but I can’t help but feel sorry for the staff, who can’t leave without finding another job. It’s one thing to be paid as a professional nurturer, but quite another to take abuse from a boss or someone you’re doing business with.

One of my clients said I can share this story with you. He had a preliminary agreement with a website design company, where they were to make a few specific changes to his site. When he got an invoice for $100 from them, but noticed the changes weren’t made, he called them to inquire what the bill was for. The woman said she had done something alright, but it wasn’t significant and not at all what he had asked them to do. When he asked her about this, and disputed the $100 fee, she took it very personally. My client then gets a call from an upset coworker, acusing him of “hurting her feelings,” and trying to make him feel bad enough that he would pay the bill. Rightly so, my client stood his ground and said he didn’t want to pay the charge, and they dropped it. Yet in effect, their emotional blackmail did extract a price in that it was an energy drain.

I’ll tell a story about myself too. Recently, I was scheduled for my first weekend off in a month, and despite announcing it in advance, I was still getting flooded with emails and calls. I had let my boundaries slip by continuing to respond, and I was starting to feel like a victim of my own success. Fortunately, I have the best customer service person in the world, my assistant Debbie, and I called her for help. How could I show that I care, but put a boundary back in place? She finally convinced me that I must start using an autoresponder that tells people I’m out of the office on weekends. At first, I thought that seemed impersonal, but then I realized that it lessened my inner-conflict and makes it clear to others when I’ll get back to them. Thankfully, this story was nipped in the bud.

What all of these stories have in common is that the business person is clearly stressed and letting it impact their customer and/or employee relationships. So whatever stress they already have is perpetuated and worsened, and then also dumped onto the other person. The cycle of stress reactions intensifies and spreads, ruining everyone’s day. Thank you for not sharing!

If there is an answer to these stress-caused emotional conflicts, it’s found in self-awareness and implementing changes in yourself or the dynamics:

  • If you can’t control your reactions, you need to remove yourself from the situation.
  • Don’t use your emotions to manipulate others in business negotiations.
  • If you’re always upset at work, perhaps you’re in the wrong job.
  • Know thyself: Not everyone has the personality for management or customer service.
  • Don’t be an out of control entrepreneur that overworks to the point of resentment.
  • Get a support person (coach, therapist, support group) that you can safely vent to.
  • Invest time and energy into doing things that relax and fullfill you. Play. Let go. Live.

Curious on your thoughts. Got some good “don’t do this,” examples? Have some tips about how you keep your own stress reactions in check? I’m sure we’d all like to read your comments.


About the Author

Jaya Savannah - Chief Inspiration Officer. Strategy Coach for Holistic Businesses. Trainer, speaker, and writer. Spiritually aware, yet street smart. Elephant lover.