Blog: How to work with a colleague who is always under stress

Life @ Work

How to work with a colleague who is always under stress

There is no point ridiculing colleagues who tumble and toss under stress. Empathize, for all you know theres someone who is doing the exact same thing with you.
How to work with a colleague who is always under stress

Stress is a part of our everyday life. For some people, however, it is a way of life. They are always stressed out and get overwhelmed for reasons that seem trivial to you. Now imagine you are put in a team with such an individual.  To clarify, they constitute a colleague-type that is always buried under piles of work and never have time to unwind. Will you distance yourself from them since their behaviour is annoying and or will you practice patience and make an effort to calm them down? In either case you will have to think of self-preservation because stress is a toxic emotion. 

Don’t pass judgements

First of all you need to understand that everyone has a different threshold for stress. Theirs is perhaps low or they just function that way. In any case, don’t diss them in front of other colleagues or say anything that shows you are judging them for their personality trait or who they are. It will only make you look like a school bully who is breaking someone’s confidence. 

Help them

If you notice your colleague is crumbling under pressure them offer help. Your gesture might alone provide respite and that they need to take care of their psychological well-being. What is it that’s troubling them? Do they need more resources or time or both? If you do know how the task can be done then share your perspective. Say, “I have been in your spot, but it is doable so don’t worry. You can do it the way it worked for me or we can together work out a possibility’. These words are reassuring to them since you are someone with both experience and expertise. Good use of both, right?

Show you care and shower praise

You can easily identify people who are genuinely stressed and others who make noise. The former is who you need to acknowledge. Show them you care and that they can get through it. Drop by their desk and say, “Hey, I was wondering when you left yesterday since I left quite late myself”. This expresses your concern. Appreciate them for their hard work for this way you show them that they are competent and are giving their best. “How are you holding up on your project; I loved how you tackled all the questions volleyed at you.” Never agitate them by saying stuff like, “Had I been in your place I would have given up way too soon. How do you stand working under a boss who doesn’t care?” It’s not helpful at all. 

Give work in manageable chunks

If you are aware of a colleague who gets overwhelmed when given work in one go, then go easy on them. Breakdown the task for them, or explain how it is to be done in steps. Clearly stating what you expect of them makes them focus on work better and deliver work step-by-step. In due time they will learn to divide bigger assignments/projects themselves and learn to function better under stressful situations. 

Avoid getting sucked into it

It is important to know that stress can get into your system without announcement. The only way to keep getting sucked into it is by being aware of what’s going on in your mind and who is it you interact most with at work. It is best to be on your guard and distance yourself from them. However, if you have to collaborate someone with an ‘I’m always stressed-out’ disposition then try to limit your interaction if you can’t bring them to not whingeing or worrying. Speak only as much is necessary without sounding arrogant. Maintain a cordial equation. 

Know of someone who might need your empathy, support, and encouragement? 

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Topics: Life @ Work, Watercooler

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