The Stress Doc Letter
Cybernotes from the Online Psychohumorist
2005, Sec. I
Fight when you can
Take flight when you must
Flow like a dream
In the Phoenix we trust!
Table of Contents
Work Q & A:
Gearing Up after Tearing Down
Readers: Jewish Dog, Should Children Witness Childbirth?,
Offerings: Phone Consultation/Coaching and Books
Six Steps for
Generating an Intimate Ambiance (Addendum: Don't
Clock the Writer's Block and The Gospel of a Country
Heads Up: Virginia Intl. Personnel Management Assn., Kirkpatrick
Firm, PositionsInc, Australian Embassy, CFUnited
Overview: Secs. I & II
1) Work Q & A: Stress Doc presents "Five Strategic Ramping Up Interventions"
for an organization cycling between downsizing and gearing up
2) Main Essay: The Stress Doc reflects on a recent book reading and contrasts
this ambiance with his typical keynote speaking programs. In this unfamiliar
public forum, with its limited physical space and smaller audience, he discovers
the potential for uncommon psychological closeness. Consider his steps for the
"Dance of Presenter-Audience Intimacy."
a) Don't Clock the Writer's Block: The Stress Doc describes his anxiety as a
radio taping is approaching and he can't come up with an idea for a script. How
does he find "the pass in the impasse?"
b) The Gopsel of a Country Road: The Stress Doc captures the colorful sights,
animated and soothing sounds and profound silences as one travels down a
mountain country road. Once again, he must escape the big city to nurture fully
all his senses and tune in to the big picture.
Work Q & A: Gearing Up
after Tearing Down
Q. Our company location is gearing up big time after scaling down for a
year. We've had to recruit almost double the staff. There's a great deal of
pressure on all of us: supervisors, managers; hourly folks; HR to get our
production rates up quickly during a massive re-vamping effort. It's becoming
dog-eat-dog around here for management with finger pointing abounding. For our
hourlies, they've been looking at overtime and weekends for months. Any
suggestions to help ease our stress?
A. While much of the pressure you describe is often associated with the initial
reactions to a company downsizing, clearly, reversing gears and quickly ramping
up often puts all parties on edge. And then there's the added tension of
wondering if this is just another transient phase in a manic-depressive cycle.
I suspect you too well understand that many of your employees and supervisors
are still grappling with unresolved feelings of loss, rejection and anger --
from loss of friends and colleagues to reduced budgets and changed assignments
-- from the past year's reductions and attritions. Not to mention the natural
schism between organizational survivors and newbies.
The immediate challenge is to prepare your people for a marathon, not just have
them run a hyper-paced hundred-yard dash and then quickly burn up or burnout.
To ensure that all organizational levels are ready and able to renew their
commitments to company and individual goals, to revive and sustain productivity
along with team morale, consider these "Five Strategic Ramping Up
1. Loss and Change Workshop. Start running workshops that allow
participants to acknowledge and vent about: a) the past year's trials and b)
present and future uncertainties and anxieties; let people get out "the
negative" before asking them to be excited or positive about what lies ahead.
Based on extensive experience, I have found that interactive yet safe workshops
(run by an expert in organizational change and adult learning) enable people to
"let go" of the past. Such "hands on" and "how to" programs facilitate
productive problem solving and build motivation and morale. These workshops are
especially effective when all levels of the department or multiple departments
in a division or in the organization participate. This engagement helps
attendees realize that they are not alone with their stress. Other sections are
also under the gun. You can begin to break down organizational silos as people
personally understand the crosscutting nature of ramp issues and that success
depends on mutual coordination.
2. Save the Retreat Committee. The above workshops will not only
identify ramp-up stress and transitional barriers but will broadly formulate
problem-solving objectives and action plans. Have a post-workshop matrix
committee -- again, composed of differing personnel levels and department
representatives -- clearly define and prioritize the conceptual output. Resist
trying to tackle too many problems at once. Target three or four key action
items with objectives, time lines; then determine locus of responsibility and
3. Organization-Wide Team Building. In light of all the past and
present changes, again, call on an outside expert to help departments and teams
integrate and implement workshop ideas and strategies. And depending on the
nature of the working relationships between departments, cross-sectional team
building may be wise.
4. Fail Safe Focus Group. If there is considerable mistrust or a
breakdown in communication between employees and managers, consider having your
CEO, HR Head and or Safety Director hold monthly meetings with a broad segment
of employees and frontline supervisors. Hopefully, this will speed up healing
the breach of trust. (Such a forum may also be useful for socializing new
employees to the organizational culture.)
5. Burnout Prevention. It may seem that your ramp-up success depends on
having employees work overtime and weekends for an undefined period of time.
Alas, in the long run this is an invitation to burnout, excessive operational
errors, dysfunctional conflict and perhaps having personnel acting out their
frustrations through sabotage. Even the US Postal Service, which mandates
overtime during peak mailing periods, e.g., Christmas rush, tax season, etc.,
has learned the importance of regulating overtime. Set a ceiling on the hours.
Come up with a rotational system that fairly and wisely distributes the overtime
and weekend work demand.
By incorporating these five ramp-up strategies and structures you will: a) help
generate a renewed sense of individual and organizational energy, participation
and purpose, b) orient and integrate effectively new employees, c) build
communicational bridges between employees and management and among departments
and d) ensure the long-term productivity and morale of the troops. Especially
at the rapidly cycling and ramping up burnout battlefront, one and all must…Practice
Subj: Jewish Dog ("kvetch" is complain in Yiddish
Morty visits Dr. Saul, the veterinarian, and says, "My dog has a problem."
Dr. Saul, "So tell me about the dog and the problem."
"It's a Jewish dog. His name is Irving and he can talk," says Morty.
"He can talk?" the doubting doctor asks.
"Watch this!" Morty points to the dog and commands: "Irving, Fetch!"
Irving, the dog, begins to walk toward the door, then turns around and says, "So
why are you talking to me like t hat? You always order me around like I'm
nothing. And you only call me when you want something. And then you make me
sleep on the floor, with my arthritis. You give me this fahkahkta food with all
the salt and fat, and you tell me it's a special diet. It tastes like dreck! YOU
should eat it yourself! And do you ever take me for a decent walk? NO, it's out
of the house, a short pish, and right back home. Maybe if I could stretch out a
little, the sciatica wouldn't kill me so much! I should roll over and play dead
for real for all you care!"
Dr. Saul is amazed "This is remarkable! What could be the problem?"
Morty says, "He has a hearing problem! I said 'Fetch', not 'Kvetch'
Subj: Should Children Witness Childbirth?
Due to a power outage, only one paramedic responded to the call. The house was
very, very dark, so the paramedic asked Kathleen, a 3-year old girl, to hold a
flashlight high over her mommy so he could see while he helped deliver the
baby. Very diligently Kathleen did as she was asked.
Her mother Heidi pushed and pushed, and after a little while Connor was born.
The paramedic lifted him by his little feet and spanked him on his bottom.
Connor began to cry. The paramedic then thanked Kathleen for her help and asked
the wide-eyed 3-year-old what she thought about what she had just witnessed.
Kathleen quickly responded, "He shouldn't have crawled in there in the first
place. Smack his ass again."
Subj: Religious Humor
Smith climbs to the top of Mt. Sinai to get close enough to talk to God. Looking
up, he asks the Lord, "God, what does a million years mean to you?"
The Lord replies, "A minute." Smith asks, "And what does a million dollars mean
to you?" The Lord replies, "A penny."
Smith asks, "Can I have a penny?"
The Lord replies, "In a minute."
A man goes to see the Rabbi. "Rabbi, something terrible is happening and I have
to talk to you about it." The Rabbi asked, "What's wrong?"
The man replied, "My wife is poisoning me." The
Rabbi, very surprised by this,asks, "How can that be?" The man then pleads, "I'm
telling you, I'm certain she's poisoning me.
What should I do?" The Rabbi then offers, "Tell you what. Let me talk to her.
I'll see what I can find out and I'll let you know."
A week later the Rabbi calls the man and says. "I spoke to your wife...spoke to
her on the phone for three hours. You want my advice?" The man said yes, and the
Rabbi replied, "Take the
A Jewish congregation in suburban Boston honors its Rabbi for 25 years of
service by sending him to Hawaii for a week, all expenses paid.
When he walks into his hotel room, he finds a beautiful nude woman lying on the
bed. She greets the Rabbi with, "Hi, Rabbi, I'm a little something extra that
the President of the Temple arranged for you."
The Rabbi is incensed. He picks up the phone, calls the President of the
Temple and shouts, "Greenblatt, what were you thinking? Where is your respect?
I am the moral leader of our religious community! I am very angry with you and
you have not heard the end of this."
Hearing this, the naked woman gets up and starts to get dressed. The Rabbi turns
to her and asks, "Where are you going? I'm not angry with you."
1. Consultation-Counseling-Coaching Service from the Stress Doc ™
Mark Gorkin, MSW, LICSW, the "Stress Doc," is an uncommon psychotherapist-coach
with nearly 30 years experience. Why the distinct perspective? In addition to
being an acclaimed Keynote Speaker and Workshop Leader, Mark is also an
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Expert, and Critical Incident Specialist (with 25 years experience as a
consultant and coach, including a stint as a Stress & Violence Prevention
Consultant for the US Postal Service).
Much information can also be obtained from his multi-award-winning website --
The Stress Doc is also the author of two books: Practice Safe Stress:
Healing and Laughing in the Face of Stress, Burnout & Depression and The
Four Faces of Anger: Transforming Anger, Rage, and Conflict Into Inspiring
Attitude and Behavior. The Doc runs a weekly "Shrink Rap ™ and Group Chat"
as AOL's "Online Psychohumorist" ™.
Expansion of Service: In-Office, Phone or Online
The Doc's areas of expertise as a consultant, counselor and speaker include:
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Flexibility in length and availability for coaching-consultation sessions; day
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The first phone or online contact/consultation (up to 15 minutes) is free.
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of Commerce, US Postal Service, Fairfax County Govt., Suffolk, VA
2. Stress Doc Books:
Make check to: Mark Gorkin
1616 18th Street, NW #312
Wash, DC 20009
a) Really Hot: The Paperback Version of Practice Safe Stress:
Practicing Safe Stress: Healing and Laughing in the Face of Stress, Burnout, &
Depression; Stress Doc Enterprises
Published: 2004; Pages: 372
Price: $20 + $4.95 priority shipping in US; $3.95 in Metro, DC area; $27 in
Mexico and Canada; other international destinations to be determined
Or, download: The Stress Doc's Store Front: www.stressdoc.com
Ebook Price: $15
Practice Safe Stress tackles the "Toxic-Traumatic Trio" -- stress, burnout, and
depression. Learn practical and playful, inspiring and insightful strategies
for transforming these toxins into life-affirming energy, creative focus, and
goal-achievement. Bringing a personal, professional, and organizational
perspective, the book is alive with imaginative language and memorable "how to"
§ Understanding the "Four Stages of Burnout," the "Erosive Spiral"
§ Rebuilding your fire and developing "Natural SPEED"
§ Achieving liberation through "Emancipation Procrastination"
§ Reducing conflict as a healing or motivational "psychohumorist" ™
There are satirical essays on "lean-and-MEAN" managers and on mismanaged
downsizings. Learn to "laugh in the face of layoffs" and ponder the possibility
of "Van Gogh, Prozac, and Creativity." The Stress Doc also shares his his own
trials, errors, and triumphs in battling the "Toxic Trio."
Safe Stress provides many discrete "Top Ten" lists and "strategic tips" essays
useful as educational/informational handouts. To quote the Internet Newsroom:
Your Guide to the World of Electronic Factgathering: "The most outstanding
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b) The Four Faces of Anger: Model and Method
Transforming Anger, Rage and Conflict Into Inspiring Attitude and Behavior
The "Four Faces of Anger" presents an elegantly simple yet intellectually
powerful model that will challenge your beliefs about anger -- both regarding
its range of emotion and its potential for positive communication. The book is
a dynamic blend of popular psychohumor articles, essays, case examples and short
vignettes, as well as Stress Doc Q & As and even "Shrink Rap" ™ lyrics. You
will gain ideas and tools, skills and techniques for personal control, playful
intervention and conflict mastery. Learn to:
Ř Identify self-defeating styles of anger and violence-prone personalities
Ř Transform hostility and rage into assertion and passion
Ř Confront directly or disarm outrageously critics and (passive) aggressors
Ř Bust the guilt not burst a gut
Ř Prevent emails from becoming e-missiles
And finally, his years as a multimedia psychotherapist and as a Stress and
Violence Prevention Consultant for the US Postal Service yield a survival and
spiritual mantra at the heart of the "Four Faces of Anger":
Seek the higher power of Stress Doc humor…May the Farce Be With You!
Published: 2004; Pages: 114
Paperback: $20 + $4.95 priority shipping in US; $3.95 in Metro, DC area; $27
in Mexico and Canada; other international destinations to be determined
Mark Gorkin, LICSW, "The Stress Doc" ™, is a psychotherapist and
"Motivational Humorist" whose Interactive Keynotes and Kickoffs draw wide and
"amazing" acclaim - from Fortune 100s and Federal Agencies to around the world
with Celebrity Cruise Lines. An OD/Team Building Consultant, Mark is the
author of Practice Safe Stress: Healing and Laughing in the Face of Stress,
Burnout & Depression and of The Four Faces of Anger: Transforming Anger,
Rage, and Conflict Into Inspiring Attitude and Behavior. Also, the Doc is
AOL's "Online Psychohumorist" ™ running his weekly "Shrink Rap ™ and Group
Chat." See his award winning, USA Today Online "HotSite" --
www.stressdoc.com (cited as a workplace resource by National Public Radio
(NPR). Finally, Mark is an advisor to The Bright Side ™ --
www.the-bright-side.org -- a
multi-award winning mental health resource. Email for his monthly newsletter
showcased on List-a-Day.com. For more info on the Doc's speaking and training
programs and products, email email@example.com or call 301-946-0865.
(c) Mark Gorkin 2005
Shrink Rap Productions