'Working Wounded': Say Goodbye to Stress

DEAR WOUNDED: The stress at work is really starting to get to me. Any advice on how to just survive today's workplace?

ANSWER: Just when you thought the workplace was overstressed, comes word from Microsoft that it's going to get worse. Microsoft's British division announced an Internet-ready portable outhouse with a computer and a plasma screen. Initially Microsoft said it was a hoax, but later Microsoft U.K. admitted that it had been working to debut this product at British festivals.

This story reminded me that in the future the workplace is only going to get faster, more complex and more stressful. So when it comes to stress, these are the good old days. I've listed a series of stress-busting strategies below. For more, check out Wolf Rinker's book, "Don't Oil the Squeaky Wheel" (McGraw Hill, 2004).

Do you change the changeable? Let me give you a small example. When I would write this column each week I would get frustrated at having to go to a bunch of pulldown menus in my word processing program to find things that I needed. One day I realized that I could put all the stuff I used each week on the menu bar so they were only one click away. How many issues are like this at work? Where we can eliminate our headaches if we only know what they are and do a bit of digging to explore all of our options?

Do you seek to accept the unchangeable? I get a lot of e-mails every week from people who complain that they would have the perfect job if it wasn't for [fill in the blank with boss, co-workers, customers -- or whatever ails you]. The question that I always ask, is your headache worth leaving your job over? They seldom are. That's why we often need to learn how to accept, turn our back on or to get as far away from certain stressors at work.

Do you remove the unacceptable? If the unchangeable is starting to really bug you, then sometimes you have to take drastic action, like quitting your job. Yes, sometimes the ultimate removing the unacceptable is to take yourself out of the equation. There are other times where you need to fire an employee, quit a committee or otherwise take yourself out of harm's way.

Do you look for opportunities to simplify? Recently I've moved into a small apartment after living in houses for many years. I can't begin to tell you how wonderful it is to simplify your lifestyle. Its amazing how often we get stuck supporting hobbies, habits, behaviors, etc. that just aren't necessary.

Do you focus on the positive? The best stress reliever I know is to always surround yourself with people with positive attitudes.

Normally, I try to finish my column with a pun based on the opening story. But given this week's topic, I thought I'd take some of the stress off me this week and just say goodbye.

We'd like to hear your strategy for handing stress at work. I'll give an autographed copy of "Working Wounded: Advice that adds insight to injury" (Warner, 2000) to the best submission. Send your entry, name & address via: http://workingwounded.com or via e-mail: bob@workingwounded.com. Entries must be received by Wednesday (June 29).

Online Ballot and Contest

Here are the results from a recent workingwounded.com/ABCnews.com online ballot:
What is the most important part of being more resilient at work?

       Not trying at all, 13.2 percent
       Trying softer, 31 percent
       Trying harder, 55.7 percent

Winning Strategy

Our winning strategy for being resilient comes from R.L. in Toronto:

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