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The Stress Doc Letter
Cybernotes from the Online Psychohumorist ™

DEC 2010, No. I

Fight when you can
Take flight when you must
Flow like a dream
In the Phoenix we trust!

Table of Contents: 

Notes from the Stress Doc

Shrink Rap I:  The Reorg Rag (with apologies to no one)

Main Essay:  The Stress Doc's "Top Ten Commandments" for Transforming Reorganizational Crisis:  Generating the Four "R"s -- Relief and Reflection, Rejuvenation and Recommitment -- Part I & Part II

Testimonials:  DC Retirement Board and Leadership Prince William, VA

Readers Submissions:  Groaners for the Educated, Responses to The Reorg Rag & Transforming Reorg Crisis Series; Poll Question Responses to Preferences around length and frequency of Stress Doc writings

Phone Coaching-Consultation-Counseling with the Stress Doc ™ and Offerings:  Books, CDs, Training/Marketing Kit:  Email stressdoc@aol.com or go to www.stressdoc.com for more info.

Notes from the Stress Doc™:

With the dawning of a New Year, as a N'Awlins friend in the PR world would say, "Hype Springs Eternal!"  My hope, if not hype, for 2011 is to begin emailing "lean-and-Mean" essays, that will "do more with less."  However, today's newsletter basically brings together my recent writings on Reorganization -- The Reorg Rag ™ lyric and the Transforming Reorganizational Crisis series (Parts I & II).  Again, your feedback throughout the year has meant a great deal.  Taking my lead from Mr. Shakespeare -- "Brevity is the soul of wit"... and "wisdom" (as many of my readers would suggest), I will simply say, joy, understanding, peace and good adventures in the New Year!

Overview:

1. Shrink Rap I:  "The Reorg Rag" ™.  Dark, wicked and witty lyric that captures the contemporary angst of the reorganizing, downsizing and merging workplace.

2.  Main Essay:  The Stress Doc's "Top Ten Commandments" for Transforming Reorganizational Crisis -- Parts I & II.  Dynamics of and Interventions for Generating the Four "R"s -- Relief and Reflection, Rejuvenation and Recommitment in a rapidly changing work environment.

Shrink Rap:

The Reorg Rag
(with apologies to no one)

By Mark Gorkin, LICSW, "The Stress Doc" ™

stressdoc@aol.com; www.stressdoc.com


It can't happen here, I have too much to do…
Who took my desk and chair, my computer, too?
They can't replace me -- the Branch Techno-file
What do you mean I'm still in denial?

Reorg Rag, Reorg Rag,
Why does it feel I've been fragged?
Reorg Rag, Reorg Rag,
Maybe I'm just on a jag.
Reorg Rag, Reorg Rag,
I'm still on the Reorg Rag!


Rejoice, you're employed…so they've frozen your pay
And put on your backs the recovery.
Two free weeks furlough to re-"leave" your stress
What a friend you have in the 112th Congress!

Work's now a casino, a high tech RIF** RAFFle
When will we know?  Why does management waffle?
The Computer decides who's pink slipping away...
Here's your ticket to ride; shopping's good in Bombay.

Reorg Rag, Reorg Rag
Why do I just want to gag?
Reorg Rag, Reorg Rag,
Whatever happened to my swag?
Reorg Rag, Reorg Rag
I'm still on the Reorg Rag!



You'll "Do more with less," when "There's no 'I' in team"
So "Dress for Success," then become "lean-and-Mean."
Keep reading those posters, your glass is half full
Though, beware "going postal" in the face of this bull.

Ignore the slacker; just take up his load.
Put in for a transfer; oops, no off ramp for this road.
The boss is a bully; the "Old Boys" turn an eye
You're getting an ulcer -- such a "nice gal or guy."

Reorg Rag, Reorg Rag
Why has life become a drag?
Reorg Rag, Reorg Rag
Should I raise that white flag?
Reorg Rag, Reorg Rag
I'm still on the Reorg Rag!


Now you've had enough, playing Raggedy Ann
Start calling their bluff; draw a line in the sand.
You are a survivor; just never forget
To bring out your "Inner Rambo or Rambette!"

So "Do know your limits; don't limit your 'No's"
There's life beyond widgets; you've taken their blows.
Break away from the mob, you've surpassed your quota
And have won your job…but now in North Dakota!

Reorg Rag, Reorg Rag,
Once again in a trick bag.
Reorg Rag, Reorg Rag,
Back into the old gulag
Reorg Rag, Reorg Rag,
I'm still on the Reorg Rag
Reorg Rag, Reorg Rag
Forever on the Reorg Rag!

 

**RIF = Reduction In Force

© Mark Gorkin  2010
Shrink Rap ™ Productions


Mark Gorkin, MSW, LICSW, "The Stress Doc" ™, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, is an acclaimed keynote and kickoff speaker as well as "Motivational Humorist & Team Communication Catalyst" known for his interactive, inspiring and FUN programs for both government agencies and major corporations.  In addition, the "Doc" is a team building and organizational development consultant.  He is providing "Stress and Communication, as well as Managing Change, Leadership and Team Building" programs for the 1st Cavalry Division and 13th Expeditionary Support Command, Ft. Hood, Texas and for Army Community Services and Family Advocacy Programs at Ft. Meade, MD and Ft. Belvoir, VA.  The Stress Doc is the author of Practice Safe Stress and of The Four Faces of Anger.  See his award-winning, USA Today Online "HotSite" -- www.stressdoc.com -- called a "workplace resource" by National Public Radio (NPR).  For more info on the Doc's "Practice Safe Stress" programs or to receive his free e-newsletter, email stressdoc@aol.com or call 301-875-2567.

Main Essay:

The Stress Doc's "Top Ten Commandments" for Transforming Reorganizational Crisis:  Generating the Four "R"s -- Relief and Reflection, Rejuvenation and Recommitment -- Part I

This past week I led programs with Metro-DC city and county government agencies that are in the throes of reorganization:  a) the quasi-private/city government agency is anticipating major overhauls and upgrades to their information processing system which may result in significant job restructuring and redesign, as well as possible job loss, b) the county government folks have been caught in the web of budget cuts and position downsizing (or RIFs -- "Reduction in Force") for the past two years.  The palpable psychological tone of the city folks was uncertainty mixed with anxiety, while an edgy feeling of helplessness colored by cynicism and callousness (signs of third stage burnout; email me for the classic article) predominated at the county offices.  In fact, liaisons with both groups warned me to expect some anger and attitude, especially from the county contingent.

As it turned out, the two workshops -- an all day program with the city agency and a two-hour class with county personnel -- were very productive.  We began transforming group angst into open and meaningful sharing, to change the unspoken mantra of "we're on a sinking ship" to "we're all in this boat together" (even if does have too many holes).  Both agencies have already expressed interest in follow-up workshops.  So how do you get angry, cynical and/or anxious participants to engage with you and interact with each other to generate:  a) an unexpected level of openness and candor, b) appropriate venting of frustration and anger behind the palpable fear and hovering feelings of helplessness or hopelessness, c) a quality of interaction that cuts through feelings of isolation and rejection while allowing for respectful "agree to disagree" dialogue, and d) tension relieving and anger reducing problem solving strategies that are generously and compassionately shared with one's colleagues?  How can you become an "orchestra leader" helping others bring out their best music?  Consider "The Stress Doc's 'Top Ten Commandments' for Transforming Reorganizational Crisis into Relief and Reflection, Rejuvenation and Recommitment." Let's begin with three foundational, stage-setting interventions:

1.  Bring Your Inner Clint Eastwood.  I recall a workshop with overworked, angry employees at Howard University Medical Center in Washington, DC.  After about an hour of venting and testing my ability to handle their frustration and understand their plight, one of the participants said aloud, "This guy's like Clint Eastwood."  (While said admiringly there was also a touch of playful irony:  for these folks, perhaps, a white male seemingly had to be a cultural icon to relate and connect meaningfully with this predominantly female, African-American audience.)

For me, a vital thread among the Medical Center program and the recent forays into the city and county lions' dens was not being intimidated by audience aggression.  A cool and comfortable demeanor, voice tone and body language suggests a willingness to listen to anger and tolerate some attitude, while, at the same time, not accepting abusive language.  This posture also reassures the less aggressive in the room that I'm not going to let the program run rampant, and will rein in any excessive provocation.  Informing folks of my experience as a "Stress and Violence Prevention Consultant" for the US Postal Service usually gets a laugh (especially with my military audiences); more important, this information establishes my street and stress cred:  "Hey, this dude is battle-tested!"

2.  Warm Up and Cool Down the Audience.  After outlining the program objectives, I usually share some edgy humor.  For example, a haughty state department manager once challenged me during a stress program, provocatively asking, "What do you call it if you don't have any stress?"  My immediate reply to Mr. Bluster:  "Denial!"  After the laughter subsides, I move into an initial small group warm-up exercise which has participants sharing signs of transition stress.  People quickly discover how our 24/7, "do more with less" days/daze puts us all on a familiar stress path.  (Not only are colleagues walking in your shoes…they are feeling your bunions.)  I also play with the stress smoke signals while bantering with the audience:  "How many folks eat more than usual when feeling those stomach stress knots?"  Many hands shoot up.  Conversely, when I ask, "How many lose their appetite and eat less under stress?" a few hands flutter.  Of course my immediate reply:  "And we hate those people, don't we!"  Venting and laughing at our own flaws and foibles is good way to reduce elevated blood pressure, for individuals and groups.  And as I've previously penned:  "People are more open to a serious message that is gift-wrapped with humor."

3.  Structure Stress and Conflict through the Cognitive Challenge of TLC and PANIC.  The city employees and managers anticipating a major restructuring did two small group assessments - first a Personal then an Organizational Analysis of the perceived looming changes.  Here's a brief outline:
a) Personal-TLC.  Each participant shares with his group to what extent he or she expects the reorg to involve unsettling TLC:
T = Threat to job, career path, promotional opps, being pushed out of skill and comfort zone, etc.
L = Loss of control, whether of operations or emotions, of identity, work or support group, dreams, etc.
C = Challenge involving both the danger and opportunity to develop new skills, explore new roles, etc.

b) Organizational-PANIC Assessment.  Now the groups discuss their sense of PANIC:
P = Purpose of the reorg, from both the perspectives of upper management and employees
A = Actuality, that is, will the reorg really happen and, if so, what will it look like
N = Needed/Necessary, that is, do people believe this transition is essential and, if so, detail management-employee strategies and steps necessary for the reorg to be effective and efficient
I = Impact, personal, professional and organizational in the short-term of the reorg
C = Consequences, for people and the organization in the long-term

These assessments allow for a level of emoting, sharing and brainstorming that is intimate yet still professional, appropriately shaped by engaging both head and heart in a supportive and analytical small group context.  They also generate "raw" data for Four "R" -- Relief and Reflection, Rejuvenation and Recommitment -- problem-solving.  Open ended venting can more readily regress into a "gripe or blame session" that may feel good for some but, ultimately, encourages the shirking of personal responsibility and doesn't challenge the group to turn crisis and conflict into creative collaboration.

Concluding Summary

Three necessary transition stress interventions for engaging an audience on "The Reorg Rag" ™ have been outlined: 1) "Bring Your Inner Clint Eastwood," 2) "Warm Up and Cool Down the Audience," and 3) "Structure Stress and Conflict through the Cognitive Challenge of TLC and PANIC."  The first intervention requires the leader to be battle-tested, to be prepared -- head- and heart-wise -- to walk into the lion's den.  The second involves an ability to quickly thaw the icy mistrust and begin to engage even the most anxious or cynical.  Generating universal empathy and some healing humor (especially the self-effacing variety) are essential for your opening gambit.  And the final strategic step is providing the audience problem solving exercises that allow for both emotional venting and diagnostic-tactical analysis of the crisis state, to better appreciate both the danger and opportunity in times of change and conflict.  As American philosopher and 19th century pioneering educator, John Dewy, observed:  "Conflict is the gadfly of thought.  It stirs us to observation and memory.  It shocks us out of sheep-like passivity.  It instigates to invention and sets us at noting and contriving.  Conflict is the sine qua non of reflection and ingenuity."
-----------------

Transforming Reorganizational Crisis -- Part II

To help others bring out their best music you need to be a psychologically and interpersonally savvy "orchestra leader."  Combined with the three basic interventions, here are three additional concepts, strategies and emotional skillsets compromising "The Stress Doc's 'Top Ten Commandments' for Transforming Reorganizational Crisis into Relief and Reflection, Rejuvenation and Recommitment."

4.  Do a Burnout/Burn Up Assessment.  During a major reorganization people can start burning out (or burning up) from "doing more with less", i.e., becoming exhausted or "lean and MEAN."  Or folks can implode or explode from the fear, frustration and fatigue of chronic uncertainty, e.g., constantly worrying about looming cuts and how sweeping they will be.  Let me provide a definition of burnout and then four concise warning signs.

Burnout is a gradual process by which a person detaches from work and other significant roles and relationships in response to excessive and prolonged stress and mental, physical, and emotional strain.  The result is lowered productivity, cynicism, confusion, a feeling of being drained having nothing more to give.  Doesn't sound like fun!  Briefly, here are "The Four Stages of Burnout":

1)  Physical, Mental and Emotional Exhaustion.  Does this sound familiar?  You're still holding it together at work, but as soon as you get home you hit the fridge, get out the Ben & Jerry's or lite beer, put on the tube, hit the sofa, and you're comatose for the rest of the evening…or wish you could be!  Stress unchecked can spiral…into a state of burnout.  In fact, I call burnout the "erosive spiral,"
 
2)  Shame and Doubt.  Now the concern is that family, friends and colleagues might notice that you are energy drained or slacking off.  Or you're ready to join the Stress Doc's "Frequent Sighers' Club."  Believe me, these days it's taking off.  Basically, you're confronting "The Intimate FOE:  Fear of Exposure."

3)  Cynicism and Callousness.  You've had enough of this uncertainty and vulnerability.  "Look out for # 1," "Get out of my way," or "Who gives a d_ _m."  If you get abrasive enough, people start avoiding you.  So put on the heavy armor:  "No one's getting to me"…Of course, nothing's getting out.  All the tension and frustration is boiling inside.  As I like to say, strong silent types get a lot more ulcers than they do Oscars!

4)  Failure, Helplessness and Crisis.  Now you start obsessing, "Damned if I do, damned if I don't; damned if I stay, damned if I leave."  Your coping structure's coming unglued; next stop the Stress Doc's couch.  There's one positive:  once you've hit bottom there's only one way to go -- back up -- if you can reach out for appropriate help.

5.  Letting Go and "The Four 'R's."  How to stop this vicious cycle?  How to ready yourself for reaching out?  Here's the critical step.  Grapple with "The Vital Lesson of the Four 'R's":  If no matter what you do or how hard you try, Results, Rewards, Recognition and Relief are not forthcoming and you can't say "No" or won't "let go", that is, you can't step back and get a new perspective; there's only one right person, position, or possible outcome because in your mind you've invested so much time, money, and ego…trouble awaits. The groundwork is being laid for apathy, callousness, and despair!

How to let go?…See right below.

6.  Grieving and "The Six 'F's for Surviving and Mastering Loss and Change."  Upon observing that major reorganization often felt like a death, or that something of real meaning appeared to be dying -- a sense of trust, security, loyalty, being valued, etc. - a wave of nodding heads circled the room. Understandably, the county personnel were in the throes of grief.  However, there is still hope.  As I once penned:

Whether the loss is a key person, a desired position or a powerful illusion, each deserves the respect of a mourning.  The pit in the stomach, the clenched fists and quivering jaw, the anguished sobs prove catalytic in time.  In mystical fashion, like spring upon winter, the seeds of dissolution bear fruitful renewal.

To turn potential transition danger into personal and professional opportunity, engage with "The Stress Doc's Six 'F's for Surviving and Mastering Loss and Change":

1) Loss of the Familiar. Grapple with the anxiety, rage, hopelessness or sadness in letting go of the familiar role or predictable past.  The big question:  Who am I?  This role or these relationships, this skillset, etc., has been such a big part of my identity.  I recall a management trainee's lament about her government agency's downsizing:  "I once had a career path…then this boulder fell from the sky and crushed it!"  Still, sometimes your former niche of success now has you mostly stuck in the ditch of excess and regress.  There's a critical -- danger and opportunity -- crossroad ahead,

2) Uncertain Future. Clearly the horizon appears cloudy and threatening, lacking direction and clarity.  What will be expected of me?  Who will I now have to report to or work with?  Beware letting present anxieties cloud your critical faculties:  just because your past or traditional relations, roles and responsibilities may be changing doesn't mean you can't transfer personal and professional experience and skills into new challenging arenas, affiliations or ambitions,

3) Loss of Face. Some loss of self-esteem and self-worth is all too common, especially when our life puzzle has been broken up other than by one's own hand.  Would this scenario be unsettling:  "Two months ago you gave our department a great performance review?  Now you're cutting our budget in a major way, and no one knows if there will be layoffs."  Shame and guilt, rage and diminished confidence are frequent early traveling partners on an uncertain and profound transitional journey,

4) Regain Focus. Major change can be scary.  Underlying feelings may include rage, helplessness, hopelessness and humiliation.  Sometimes we need a little rage to break through chains of mind-body-behavior paralysis.  Of course, rage needs to be tempered.  Remember, more people shoot themselves in the foot than go postal!  (And, let me say, as a former Stress and Violence Prevention Consultant with the US Postal Service, I know "Going Postal.")  Often with professional support, learn to temper your rage by courageously embracing those underlying vulnerable emotions; this leads to a productive, yin-yang state of "focused anger":   "I may not like the cards that have been dealt, but how do I make the best of my reality right now."  And you'll likely start hatching a new perspective with, if not crystal clear targets, then an intuitive, crystal ball-like enlightenment.  Suddenly this Stress Doc mantra starts resonating:  "I don't know where I'm going...I just think I know how to get there!"

5) Seek Feedback. You have to work hard to find someone who can provide clear, clean, and honest feedback.  Many don't really have a clue how to give it.  Or people are fearful you won't know how to handle it.  Still, we all benefit from the Stress Doc's version of TLC:  "Tender Loving Criticism" and "Tough Loving Care."  You need a "stress buddy" to help sort out the wheat from the chaff.  Before you blow up in a supervisor's office check in with your TLC partner and ask, "Am I seeing this situation objectively or not?  What's my part in this problem?"  In times of rapid or daunting change, trustworthy feedback helps us remember who we are; that our basic, core self remains intact despite being shaken by unsettling forces or errors. 

6) Have Faith. Having the courage to grapple with the aforementioned "F"s now yields strength to understand what in your present life rests in your control and what lies beyond.  Of course, there's always an unpredictable element or moment in major transition.  Life is not a straight line progression.  However, by doing your "head work, heart work and homework" you are in a much stronger personal and professional position.  You are building cognitive and emotional muscles; you can have faith in a growing ability to handle whatever will be thrown at you.  Going through this process means you are evolving the psychological capacity for dealing with ambiguous and unpredictable twists and turns on life's journey.  Remember…

For the Phoenix to rise from the ashes
One must know the pain
To transform the fire to burning desire!


And how do you transform mystical or mythical maturation into everyday evolution?  Consider the prescient words of the great scientific/polio pioneer, Dr. Jonas Salk:  Evolution is about getting one more time than you fall down; being courageous one more time than you are fearful; and trusting just one more time than you are anxious.

Concluding Summary

Part II extended the transition-transformation process by outlining a variety of psychological and interpersonal issues and interventions:  4) Do a Burnout/Burn Up Assessment, 5) Letting Go and "The Four 'R's," and 6) Grieving and "The Six 'F's for Surviving and Mastering Loss and Change."  Specifically, Part II focuses on key emotional effects of reorganization and RIF (Reduction in Force) and provides some necessary problem solving actions:  a) "do more with less" exhaustion and "The Four Stages of Burnout," b) short-circuiting the "erosive spiral" by accepting the sense of loss when bereft of "Results, Rewards, Recognition and Relief," then stepping back and gaining a new perspective through "The Vital Lesson of the Four 'R's," and c) learning to "let go," "go with the flow" and "grow through grief" by engaging the Six "F"s - loss of the "Familiar," the uncertain "Future," loss of "Face," regaining "Focus," seeking "Feedback" and having "Faith."  And Part III will complete the Top Ten Commandments.  Words to help us all survive if not thrive during major change, to experience the possibility of rebirth and to…Practice Safe Stress!

Transforming Reorganizational Crisis – Part III

Finally, Part III highlights conflict resolution, boundary setting and trust building tools and techniques in the interpersonal arena along with tips for developing “The Four ‘C’s of Psychological Hardiness.”  Here are the four remaining pieces of The Stress Doc’s “Top Ten Commandments” for Transforming Reorganizational Crisis:  Generating the Four “R”s – Relief and Reflection, Rejuvenation and Recommitment:

7.  Stand Up to the Bully Manager.  In my years working as a consultant, the most intense source of stress (after downsizing and “do more with less”) reported by employees has been the rigidly controlling, vengeful or bullying manager, with the dysfunctional-detached manager a close second.  (Conversely, for managers, the biggest thorn is usually hostile, slacker or passive-aggressive employees.)  And during tumultuous times the shift from authoritative to authoritarian only gets more pronounced. 

Before proceeding, let me underscore that taking on the bully can feel overwhelming and draining, especially in a dysfunctional work environment; the belief that "I don't have it in me" or "I can't just walk away," may have you trapped in an unending battle zone.  In somewhat analogous fashion, like for so many of our military in Iraq and Afghanistan, repeated or extended tours of war zone duty take a toll.  PTSD anyone?  My concern is that by clinging to the job, you may be seriously sacrificing your physical and emotional health, as well as your basic sense of worth and self-confidence.  And once caught in this vicious cycle, it becomes even more daunting to perceive other options. Try not to wait till your desperate or desperately ill to take action; very few jobs are worth that price.  Now, here are five tips and techniques for handling an overly aggressive authority:

1) Don't Fight Fire with Fire.  If a senior partner/manager hits you with unfair criticism, don't follow this paralegal’s lead:  “It’s not my fault…you didn't give me the right instructions.”  Alas, it’s not a fair fight.  One party has the bigger flamethrower.  Avoid blaming “you” messages.  Let the partner know your open to criticism or feedback, but don’t appreciate being attacked.  Try, “Obviously I wasn't (or we weren't) on the same page.”  (Conversely, don't hang your head and blurt out, “I guess I screwed up,” especially if that’s not the case.)  “Let’s make sure I understand what’s needed and I/we do what it takes to rectify the situation,”

2) Document, Document, Document.  Once a pattern of hostility or bullying has been established (two times suggests a tendency, three times a pattern) keep a written file of any offensive behavior or communication.  Be ready to share it with the proper authorities.  And sometimes you don't wait for a pattern,

3) Seek Inside Support.  For example, in the above scenario, with a manager who continues his verbal assault, blasting aside your tactful acknowledgement, assert the following:  “I'm sorry if any of my actions contributed to this problem, but this attack is not professional or acceptable.  I will only continue this discussion with Human Resources (or, in other circumstances, a union rep) present,”

4) Obtain Outside Counsel.  Unfortunately, too often I've heard how the “Old Boys Network” prevented an impartial investigation or adjudication of in-house interpersonal problems.  Or the union did not really stick up for the employee.  If you can't get legitimate internal support, consider these two options:  a) set up an appointment with an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Counselor who may be able to mediate as an “intimate outsider” or b) seek outside legal counsel.  As one county employee noted, when all other attempts failed, just a strong-worded letter from her attorney to upper management led to the cessation of the formal relationship with her bullying supervisor.  (Of course it isn’t fair that you have to pay for outside counsel, but that’s another thing of which we need to “let go” – that life is fair!), and

5)  Be Aware of Authority Dynamics.  Based on one’s family or marital history, many people have some degree of control, competition or self-esteem issues with authority or “significant family” figures at work, whether the issues-relations have parent-child overtones or are acted out in a sibling rivalry context.  And again, transitional tension and uncertainty only magnifies the propensity for psychological transference, where hurt and anger from the past too easily gets projected onto emotionally provocative figures in the present.  If anger or intimidation significantly colors your authority or collegial relations, speak to a psychological counselor.

8.  Learn to Say “No.”  For survival in a “do more with less” work climate it’s vital to practice a Stress Doc mantra:  Do know your limits and don’t limit your “Nos.  Of course, you have to learn to say “No” assertively and tactfully.  Consider these two limit setting scenarios:

a. With Colleagues.  In response to a colleague’s request, don't give a one-sided response.  First, listen for details and acknowledge the importance of the request.  Then, in a concise and straightforward manner, say, “Based on my schedule I can't do ABC, however, I believe I can help you with DEF.”  You're not slamming the door on anyone.  In fact, you're offering realistic assistance, affirming your own integrity yet also declaring your status as a team player.

Now let your colleague disagree for a reasonable period of time.  Remember, usually we don't fight over facts and figures, but over the status of the relationship.  That is, the other wants to know they are entitled to say, “I'm right and you're wrong.”  Naturally, acknowledgement doesn't necessarily mean agreement.  Mostly, people want to feel they have been heard.  And once feeling acknowledged, research indicates the other party is more open to considering your initial position.  Finally, in a concise and to the point manner, reaffirm you're original position.  (Over talking undermines your own conviction and authority.)

b. With Bosses.  As your interaction moves up the authority chain, you likely will need to forego the above-mentioned ABC approach.  Now the key is affirming boundaries.  Let me explain.  Especially in a TnT (Time- ‘n Task-Driven) environment, too often higher ups approach subordinates with anxious intensity:  The sky is falling down.  Drop everything!  (Though, of course, all projects still remain on your “To Do” list.)  The critical first step is not to let another’s false sense of “urgency or emergency” become your anxiety.  Remember, an emergency is basically a “life and death” matter; everything else can be prioritized.  Try these two steps:

1) Reaffirm Importance.  Reaffirm with the authority that you understand that the request-demand is very important.  With this reframe from “urgent” to “very important” not only are you injecting some rationality into the discussion, but you're taking some control both of the individual projection (“you must become as anxious as I am”) and the interpersonal process, i.e., you're not willing to be a mindless puppet, and

2) Reprioritize and Focus.  Having reaffirmed the importance of the request-demand now set some boundaries on the implementation process, by adding:  “Because the project is so important, let’s take five minutes to reprioritize my project list so I can give this new, (or vital, emergent, etc.) project the time and energy it deserves…so we can be successful.”  The implicit message:  “Let’s detail workable tactics and not just jump in over our heads and then flounder.”  Once again, while available as a team player-partner you are also preserving integrity while protecting yourself from burnout.

9.  Disarm Power Struggles While Building Trust.  Let’s flip the focus:  what if a surly employee challenges an authority figure (literally or in so many words) with, “You can't make me!”  And the manager takes the bait:  “Oh, yes I can!”  Unless it is a truly critical situation, fighting fire with fire is frequently not the best way to deescalate tensions and develop partners.  Consider these conflict resolving steps:

1)  Be Vital and Vulnerable.  Try this response:  “I don't know if I can make you or I can't make you.  That’s not where I'm coming from.”  [You're resisting the provocative bait.  Not immediately playing the authority trump card, you are confidently tentative without giving up your power potential.],

2) Be Humble and Open.  “If we have a problem – if I’m bugging you or our situation is a pain – can we talk about it?”  [Can we assume that if there is a serious power struggle someone is pained or upset about something?  I think so.  Also, I believe the fastest way of reducing status differences between antagonists while generating adult-to-adult dialogue is by “asking a good question,” as illustrated above.  For me, there are two essential pillars of “a good question”:  a) Be Humble – the question says, “I don't have all the answers,” and b) Be Open – the question invites the other party to share his or her point of view, with the implicit message, “Maybe I can learn something new.”

Also, you are being courageous:  inviting criticism often elicits real and raw feedback; you can handle another’s anger.  And, when others perceive you as handling criticism without becoming defensive or quickly having to prove who’s right or wrong, you help build trust, which is invaluable.  (As mentioned before, I accept anger and even some attitude, but I don't tolerate abuse.)

3) Win/Win Posture and “Drop the Rope.”  The last part of your power struggle-reducing intervention:  “I need your contribution to meet our goals.  I believe I'm in a position to help you.  For us to succeed, we have to be pulling together, not be pulling apart.”  [I use the image and metaphor of learning to “Drop the Rope” when people are caught up in a “tug of words.”  Under duress, this option neither pulls harder nor vacates the arena of conflict.  Dropping the rope basically says, “Pulling back and forth, trying to overpower, outsmart or out shout one another isn't working for me.  Can we figure out another way of approaching the problem?”  So, in addition to “letting go,” you also need to step up to the plate, that is, to be present and invite problem solving discussion.  These are vital steps in both trust and partnership building.]

10.  Develop Psychological Hardiness.  Psychological hardiness is a concept developed by Dr. Suzanne Kobasa and her research team while studying the health of AT&T executives during the late 20th century stressful breakup of “Ma Bell.”  Some execs were having a hard time physically and emotionally, while others were coping effectively with the transitional storm.  The hardiest executives demonstrated what I call “The Four C’s of Psychological Hardiness”:

1) Commitment.  While not happy about the major restructuring and resulting turbulence, the hardiest executives did not give up; they were determined to do quality work.  They also had a life outside the office and received support from family, friends, colleagues and spiritual activities, as well as from hobbies. Hobbies allow you to take time out and to stimulate and nurture yourself.  These folks were committed to finding some work-life balance,

2) Control.  The hardy execs also had a realistic sense of control and less rigid need to wield it.  They understood the necessity of giving up some turf positions and status posturing. Letting go of your cherished territory often provides a new vantage point for strategically surveying the emergent big picture,

3) Change.  The hardy individuals had a realistic attitude toward change.  For them, change was a natural part of life, not something to be resisted.  Even when facing unpleasant or unhappy changes, they quickly grappled with their emotions.  They grieved the loss of their familiar world, and then prepared themselves for the new or unknown.  With this resilient and enlightened perspective, change was more a stepping-stone than a stumbling block, and

4) Conditioning.  Finally, the hardiest of the execs engaged in regular aerobic exercise or physical conditioning.  Why is it so critical?  As we've seen, not only does exercise help you stay fit, manage your weight and improve your cardiovascular health, but it also releases mood-lifting endorphins, a good antidote to mild feelings of agitation and/or depression.  Also, when everything’s up in the air – you can't seem to close any projects, reports or sales or meet elusive deadlines – structured exercise provides a self-defined beginning and endpoint for a tangible sense of accomplishment and control…a “success ritual!”

Closing Summary

Based on work with a variety of organizational and corporate clients, this three part series has outlined The Stress Doc’s “Top Ten Commandments” for Transforming Reorganizational Crisis:  Generating the Four “R”s – Relief and Reflection, Rejuvenation and Recommitment.  The “Top Ten” are:

1)  Bring Your Inner Clint Eastwood

2)  Warm Up and Cool Down the Audience

3)  Structure Stress and Conflict through the Cognitive Challenge of TLC and PANIC

4)  Do a Burnout/Burn Up Assessment

5)  Letting Go and “The Four ‘R’s”

6)  Grieving and “The Six ‘F’s for Surviving and Mastering Loss and Change"

7)  Stand Up to the Bully Manager

8)  Learn to Say “No”

9)  Disarm Power Struggles While Building Trust

10) Develop Psychological Hardiness

 

Commandments 1-3 are foundational tools for breaking down mistrust and engaging an audience in the throes of reorganization.  Commandments 4-6 identify signs and stages of burnout and also provide a psychosocial skillset for letting go, grieving and surviving major loss and change.  Commandments 7-10 provide workplace conflict resolution, power struggle defusing and trust building tools and skills; the last commandment provides concepts and steps for developing resilience or “psychological hardiness” especially during times of change and crisis.

Finally, by practicing these commandments, not only will you have a transitional stress tool kit, but you will generate a work world and a lifestyle that is more balanced, has boundaries and also is charged with enhanced esteem and expanded energy. You have an awareness and action plan that prevents stress smoke signals and interpersonal conflict from smoldering and erupting into that burnout fire. You will have truly learned how to...“Practice Safe Stress!”

Testimonials:

District of Columbia Retirement Board (DCRB)
[Three One-Day sessions on "Stress Management, Interpersonal Skills Training and Team Building in Times of Reorganization"]

Dec 21, 2010

Mark,
 
I am very apologetic that I have not responded sooner. It has been a whirlwind of activity and the time just went by faster each day. I am hoping for a slower week this week and should be able to finalize some information as well as craft a beautiful – honest – praise for the wonderful eye-opening training that you have provided DCRB. You set a bar that many trainers will now need to live up to…
 
Hopefully, I will be able to provide you with some more information over the last week of December and we can discuss it early January.
 
Happy Holidays!  Be safe.
 
Thank you,
 
Susan D. Washington, PHR
Human Resources Manager
District of Columbia Retirement Board
900 7th Street, 2nd floor
Washington, DC 20001
 
202-343-3227 (office direct)
202-343-3200 (office)susan.washington@dc.gov
 
www.dcrb.dc.gov
---------------------


Leadership Prince William, VA

[Holiday Stress, Envisioning Change and Team Building Program for Alumni Group affiliated with Chamber of Commerce]

Dec 15, 2010

Good Afternoon Mark,

One normally wouldn't associate stress with humor and entertainment...those people don't know you!  Thank you so much for conducting the recent workshop, "Practicing Safe Stress", for Leadership Prince William.

Our participants enjoyed your upbeat delivery and offbeat sense of humor!  Thank you for guiding, enlightening and challenging our Leadership group.

Let’s stay in touch.  Best wishes for a delightful holiday season~

Kathy

Kathy Ellington, Director
Leadership Prince William
t. 703.993.9607

www.leadershipprincewilliam.org
-----------------------

Dec 14, 2010

Hello Mark,

Thank you for coming to Manassas to present to Leadership Prince William. I enjoyed your message and humor.  What you shared about the 4 "R's" really resonates in one aspect of life.  I haven't determined how to approach it, but you've definitely gotten me thinking.  Put in your perspective, it seems pretty well defined.

I wish you a wonderful holiday season.  I truly hope to have the opportunity to see you again.  Regards,

Kendra Kielbasa, Public Relations Director
Lewis & Leigh, Inc. dba
Home Instead Senior Care, Manassas Office
9100 Church Street, Suite 107
Manassas, VA 20110

703.530.1360 - Office (24/7)
703.909.0086 - Cell
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Reader's Submissions:

Subject: Groaners for the Educated

From:  PCorell@HOPSTEINER.com

1.   King Ozymandias of Assyria was running low cash after years of war with the Hittites.  His last great possession was the Star of the Euphrates, the most valuable diamond in the ancient world.  Desperate, he went to Croesus, the pawnbroker, to ask for a loan. Croesus said, "I'll give you 100,000 dinars for it."  "But I paid a million dinars for it," the King protested.  "Don't you know who I am?  I am the king!"  Croesus replied, "When you wish to pawn a Star, makes no difference who you are."

2.   Evidence has been found that William Tell and his family were avid bowlers.  Unfortunately, all the Swiss league records were destroyed in a fire...and so we'll never know for whom the Tells bowled.

3.   A man rushed into a busy doctor's office and shouted, "Doctor!  I think I'm shrinking!  "The doctor calmly responded, "Now, settle down.  You'll just have to be a little patient."

4.   A marine biologist developed a race of genetically engineered dolphins that could live forever if they were fed a steady diet of seagulls.  One day, his supply of the birds ran out so he had to go out and trap some more.  On the way back, he spied two lions asleep on the road.  Afraid to wake them, he gingerly stepped over them.  Immediately, he was arrested and charged with transporting gulls across sedate lions for immortal porpoises.

5.   Back in the 1800's the Tate's Watch Company of Massachusetts wanted to produce other products and since they already made the cases for watches, they used them to produce compasses.  The new compasses were so bad that people often ended up in Canada or Mexico rather than California.  This, of course, is the origin of the expression, "He who has a Tate's is lost!"

6.   A thief broke into the local police station and stole all the toilets and urinals, leaving no clues.  A spokesperson was quoted as saying, "We have absolutely nothing to go on."

7.   An Indian chief was feeling very sick, so he summoned the medicine man.  After a brief examination, the medicine man took out a long, thin strip of elk rawhide and gave it to the chief, telling him to bite off, chew, and swallow one inch of the leather every day.  After a month, the medicine man returned to see how the chief was feeling.  The chief shrugged and said, "The thong is ended, but the malady lingers on."

8.   A famous Viking explorer returned home from a voyage and found his name missing from the town register.   His wife insisted on complaining to the local civic official who apologized profusely saying, "I must have taken Leif off my census."

9.   There were three Indian squaws.  One slept on a deer skin, one slept on an elk skin, and the third slept on a hippopotamus skin.  All three became pregnant.  The first two each had a baby boy.  The one who slept on the hippopotamus skin had twin boys.  This just goes to prove that the squaw of the hippopotamus is equal to the sons of the squaws of the other two hides.

10.   A skeptical anthropologist was cataloging South American folk remedies with the assistance of a tribal Brujo who indicated that the leaves of a particular fern were a sure cure for any case of constipation. When the anthropologist expressed his doubts, the Brujo looked him in the eye and said, "Let me tell you, with fronds like these, you don't need enemas."

Readers' Responses to The Reorg Rag/Reorg Crisis Series

HI, Mark.  I did see it and thought it was very well-done.  I thought you captured the angst that's just going to be setting in with the issuance of President Obama's making the 2-year pay freeze a reality with yesterday's Executive Order extremely well. <smile>
 

Thanks,
Dawn N
Federally Employed Women (FEW)
-----------------------------


Edgy?  Scary is closer to the truth.

John S
VP, Information Technology

------------------------

Hysterical…and quite on point! I bet if you put it to YouTube, you’ll get a following!!

Shira Harrington

Managing Director,
Association & HR Practice
Armstrong Franklin
-----------------------------

And it doesn’t get better the 2nd and third time around. Folks used to take a big breath when they escaped the RIF [Reduction in Force] or cut last year or the year before. Now as job classes are signing off on RIF letters  for the 3rd or 4th time they wonder …is this the one? So even the workers are stressed out.

Carol
Program Director
-----------------------------

This is soooooooo Cooooooool.

I loved this part:
You are a survivor; just never forget
To bring out your "Inner Rambo or Rambette!"

So "Do know your limits; don't limit your 'No's"

Cheers!
BJ
------------------------------

Lynnda P. writes:

You made me laugh so hard, coffee came up through my nose!!  Christmas blessings
to you Mark
------------------------------

Hi,

This was very helpful to read -- thank you for your work.  I just learned we will be going through a major change beginning in January as we prepare the staff and the church to go multi-site in September.  How might I be able to read Part III of the Top Ten Commandments which you describe as words to help us all survive if not thrive during major change, to experience the possibility of rebirth and to…Practice Safe Stress! 

This sounds so helpful!

Pr. Sharon
Light of Christ, Algonquin, IL

---------------------------

Hey Stress Doc,

          Thanks for the email which I finally have a chance reading it.  I for one having the Reorg crisis in the work place and it took many years to finalize the blue print.  I, for one not map in the print and have to re-apply for my position.  I was not picked for the job that I re-apply and realized later that I was not picked because I don’t have enough seniority as others in the agency.  To make a long story short, I finally get placed for a job two days before Thanksgiving this year!  I know is because I work hard and try to make a difference in my work place.  I like the motto said “Doing a good job here is like wetting your pants in a dark suit you get a warm feeling but no one else notice.”  It is all about having the right attitude and positive outlook and eventually somebody recognized and get notice me!!   I like to make a difference in my work place, start with a “good morning” and/or smile J that I know I win some positive energy or even a friend already!  Agree? 

          Hey Mark, Have a wonderful Christmas and Holidays!   

Kitty
-----------------------------

Editorial comments from my good friend Larry P.

7.  Stand Up to the Bully Manager.  In my years working as a consultant, the most intense source of stress (after downsizing and “do more with less”) reported by employees has been the rigidly controlling, vengeful or bullying manager, with the dysfunctional-detached manager a close second.  (Conversely, for managers, the biggest thorn is usually hostile, slacker or passive-aggressive employees.)  And during tumultuous times the shift from authoritative to authoritarian only gets more pronounced. 

Before proceeding, let me underscore that taking on the bully can feel overwhelming and draining, especially in a dysfunctional work environment; the belief that "I don't have it in me" or "I can't just walk away," may have you trapped in an unending battle zone.  In somewhat analogous fashion, like for so many of our military in Iraq and Afghanistan, repeated or extended tours of war zone duty take a toll.  PTSD anyone?  My concern is that by clinging to the job, you may be seriously sacrificing your physical and emotional health, as well as your basic sense of worth and self-confidence.  And once caught in this vicious cycle, it becomes even more daunting to perceive other options. Try not to wait till your desperate or desperately ill to take action; very few jobs are worth that price.  Now, here are five tips and techniques for handling an overly aggressive authority:

1) Don't Fight Fire with Fire.  If a senior partner/manager hits you with unfair criticism, don't follow this paralegal’s lead:  “It’s not my fault…you didn't give me the right instructions.”  Alas, it’s not a fair fight.  One party has the bigger flamethrower.  Avoid blaming “you” messages.  Try, “Obviously I wasn't (or we weren't) on the same page.”  (Conversely, don't hang your head and blurt out, “I guess I screwed up,” especially if that’s not the case.)  “Let’s make sure I understand what’s needed and I/we do what it takes to rectify the situation,”

I LOVE THIS ADVICE.  ARGUE FROM A POSITION OF STRENGTH…WITH HUMILITY.  UNDERSTAND THAT YOU ARE THERE TO SERVE, BUT YOU AREN’T A SERVANT.  AND UNDERSTAND THAT THERE ARE LINES IN THE SAND THAT YOU WILL NOT TOLERATE ANYONE CROSSING…EVEN IF THEY ARE SIGNING YOUR PAYCHECK.  MY FAVORITE QUOTE ON THIS TOPIC COMES TO US FROM JOHN WAYNE’S LAST MOVIE, “THE SHOOTIST”…

“I won't be wronged. I won't be insulted. I won't be laid a-hand on. I don't do these things to other people, and I require the same from them.”

2) Document, Document, Document.  Once a pattern of hostility or bullying has been established (two times suggests a tendency, three times a pattern) keep a written file of any offensive behavior or communication.  Be ready to share it with the proper authorities.  And sometimes you don't wait for a pattern,

OK…DEFINE HOSTILITY AND BULLYING BEHAVIOR.  ALL OF THE TRAINING I HAVE HAD ON THE TOPIC SAYS REDRESSING A WRONG STARTS WITH FIRST IDENTIFYING THE WRONG TO THE PERSON WHO HAS WRONGED YOU.  IF YOU FIND SOMETHING OFFENSIVE, DON’T YOU FIRST HAVE AN OBLIGATION TO TELL THEM YOU FIND THE BEHAVIOR UNACCEPTABLE?  JUST ASKIN’!

3) Seek Inside Support.  For example, in the above scenario, with a manager who continues his verbal assault, blasting aside your tactful acknowledgement, assert the following:  “I'm sorry if any of my actions contributed to this problem, but this attack is not professional or acceptable.  I will only continue this discussion with Human Resources (or, in other circumstances, a union rep) present,”

HMMMM…..I AGREE IN PRINCIPAL, BUT ALSO I KNOW THAT THIS IS FURTHER THROWING DOWN THE GAUNTLET.  “I AM TAKING THIS PROBLEM ELSEWHERE”.  HOW WILL THAT PLAY?  AGAIN…NOT AN EXPERT, JUST ASKIN’!

4) Obtain Outside Counsel.  Unfortunately, too often I've heard how the “Old Boys Network” prevented an impartial investigation or adjudication of in-house interpersonal problems.  Or the union did not really stick up for the employee.  If you can't get legitimate internal support, consider these two options:  a) set up an appointment with an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Counselor who may be able to mediate as an “intimate outsider” or b) seek outside legal counsel.  As one county employee noted, when all other attempts failed, just a strong-worded letter from her attorney to upper management led to the cessation of the formal relationship with her bullying supervisor.  (Of course it isn’t fair that you have to pay for outside counsel, but that’s another thing of which we need to “let go” – that life is fair!), and

I AM NOT SMART IN LABOR LAW…SOUNDS REASONABLE…I JUST DON’T KNOW WHAT I DON’T KNOW.

5)  Be Aware of Authority Dynamics.  Based on one’s family or marital history, many people have some degree of control, competition or self-esteem issues with authority or “significant family” figures at work, whether the issues-relations have parent-child overtones or are acted out in a sibling rivalry context.  And again, transitional tension and uncertainty only magnifies the propensity for psychological transference, where hurt and anger from the past too easily gets projected onto emotionally provocative figures in the present.  If anger or intimidation significantly colors your authority or collegial relations, speak to a psychological counselor.

I LIKE THIS A LOT.  IT IS SO TRUE.  WHAT WE SOMETIMES PERCEIVE AS PROBLEMS IN OTHERS ARE REALLY PROBLEMS BETWEEN OUR OWN EARS.  TWO THUMBS UP!
-------------------------

Readers' Responses to Poll Question

Preference for Shorter More Frequent Pieces


You are a gifted and insightful writer -- don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise. For me (and my reading speed is in the 10th percentile) I value the reduction of the concepts to what amounts to the single sentence in a paragraph that tells me what I should conclude after I read the details. This may seem like a list of 10 second bullets. For me, it is a way to accumulate information that counts despite my reading troubles.  I will understand if you choose to go longer.  I wish you all success -- your contributions to the greater good are much appreciated by me.

Jane M
Federally Employed Women
-----------------------------

Dear Mark,

Feedback: Would prefer getting smaller segments to read (perhaps once per week or so).

BJ

Part III is superfantabulously awesome!
------------------------------

You’ll probably receive many (legitimate) responses with both points of view. I’d like to consider the issue in a different way.

I moderate many Yahoogroups forums. My readers prefer frequent postings, and they complain when a group is silent for a week or two.

I would guess that Stress Doc postings would be similar. People have short memories, and they would like to receive the Stress Doc frequently.

However, a brief, serial posting cannot refer to a previous installment, for the same reason – people have short memories. Each installment must stand on its own.

Thank you for asking, Mark, and keep up the good work.

David Grossman
-----------------------------

Hi, Mark.  Yes, I would appreciate shorter segment, on a weekly basis.  All too often I know I need all the information the lengthier articles contain, but just don't have time to read them all the way to the end.  I would much rather have shorter segments once a week that I can read through, pull out what's pertinent to me, and move on to the next thing than miss out entirely.
 
Thanks,
Dawn
-----------------------------

While I would love to sit down for half an hour and really digest these articles, sound bites, unfortunately, are the way to go in this hurried day and age.

Stacey G. Hunt, CLA, CAS | Paralegal |

------------------------------

I like the idea of weekly shorter segments But when I do not have time to read I either print out or save in my Stress Doc folder e-mails to refer to later.

Whatever works for you “clients” or other professional staff is ok by me.

Carol Fuentevilla
Holiday Park Senior Center
Program  & Center Director
----------------

HI MARK .  I PREFER SHORT STORIES . THE MIND DOESNT STAY FOCUSED FOR TOO LONG.  HAPPY HOLIDAYS

COUSIN ANDY

-----------------------------

Hi Mark,

This is really good. I think our Dept. Director needs it. The reduction in work force went from nearly 200 to 99. Not many programs have been eliminated but with further cuts that is the next step.

How are you doing? You have so much to contribute to so many different groups and concerns. Most of all I love your step by step approach to dealing with whatever the issue is.

Are you still getting to Montg. Co. occasionally? 

Carol Fuentevilla
Holiday Park Senior Center
Program  & Center Director
Wheaton, MD
------------------------------

Preference for Longer/Less Frequent Pieces

Hi Mark-

Thanks for your continued expertise -- and nurturning my soul! In my position, I'm serving as a 'limited contact -- one time only consultant'. With the existing external and internal constraints, 'inside' managers and workers face 'do more with less', make it work --"somehow', and, oh, by the way, remember that the desired -- 'accepted' outcome is success. I've suggested your newsletter a number of times as a resource.

My own preference is to keep Stress Doc available -- my own preference is going with either a monthly or bimonthly newsletter. My mailbox is often so full -- and I get to check two of them all the time!

If I were to see 'shorter, more frequent' messages, I know that I'd 'speed through' the soundbite, may or may not 'continue' to link the dots over multiple messages, and LOSE the value that is present in your information...

Getting the 'full input' allows me to make the time to read it, think about the current applications, and develop strategies for implementation.

Some thoughts, and I know you'll get many more from your fans! Keep Stress Doc coming!

Carol

PS Continue to share individual letters upon arrival- some with colleagues in same role as mine, as well as a couple of life coaches. Thank you for being an 'active force' in shaping our brain dialogues!
------------------------------

Hello Mark -- I prefer the long ones/less frequent which I usually save and go back to with coffee.
 
I just submitted a part two of an article on bullying for www.ourjourneythruautism.com
 -- something must be lined up in the cosmos as I see your "Stand Up to the Bully Manager" in this group of essays.  If that is on your website too, let me know as I will link to it on my site -- I am adding a page on bullying resources.
 
It is official -- I am a credentialed Hypnotherapist.  I will soon also have a "heart centered hypnotherapy" certification.  If you have never tried it, I highly recommend the therapeutic experience.  It opened a lot of windows in my brain and caused me to make some awesome changes in my life.  It also lets my clients know that I participated in the process and wouldn't have them do anything I haven't done myself.  People walk out feeling better.  I love that.
 
Best wishes to you and yours for a most blessed holiday season.  Let me know when you are going to be in Joisey again.
 
Annette
------------------------------

Hi Mark,

Always glad to hear from you; the current schedule is fine with me. Your notes are informative.  Happy New Year!

Jeri

------------------------------

Mark:
 
Love your stuff.  Hope you are doing well.  How is busindess?  Still dating the girl in Cleveland?  Will you be there around the holidays?  Let's catch up when you get a chance.
 
Rich


Coach Z


Mark Gorkin, MSW, LICSW, "The Stress Doc" ™, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, is a one-of-a-kind "Motivational Humorist & Team Communication Catalyst."  The "Doc" is an acclaimed keynote and kickoff speaker known for his interactive, inspiring and FUN speaking and workshop programs.  The "Stress Doc" is also a team building and organizational development consultant for a variety of govt. agencies, corporations and non-profits.  And he is AOL's "Online Psychohumorist" ™.  Mark is an Adjunct Professor at Northern VA (NOVA) Community College and currently he is leading "Stress, Team Building and Humor" programs for the 1st Cavalry and 4th Infantry Divisions and Brigades, at Ft. Hood, Texas and Ft. Leonard Wood, MO.  A former Stress and Conflict Consultant for the US Postal Service, the Stress Doc is the author of Practice Safe Stress and of The Four Faces of Anger.  See his award-winning, USA Today Online "HotSite" -- www.stressdoc.com -- called a "workplace resource" by National Public Radio (NPR).  For more info on the Doc's "Practice Safe Stress" programs or to receive his free e-newsletter, email stressdoc@aol.com or call 301-875-2567.

(c)  Mark Gorkin  2010

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