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The Stress Doc Letter
Cybernotes from the Online Psychohumorist ™

JUL 2005, Sec. I

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

Table of Contents

Section I

Work Q & A: 
   Gearing Up after Tearing Down
Readers:          Jewish Dog, Should Children Witness Childbirth?, Religious Humor
Offerings:        Phone Consultation/Coaching and Books

Section II

Main Essay:   
Six Steps for Generating an Intimate Ambiance (Addendum:  Don't
                        Clock the Writer's Block and The Gospel of a Country Road)
Heads Up:      
Virginia Intl. Personnel Management Assn., Kirkpatrick Lockhart Law
                         Firm, PositionsInc, Australian Embassy, CFUnited Conference

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 Interventions":

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 accountability.

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 Safe Stress!

Readers' Submissions

Subj:   Jewish Dog  ("kvetch" is complain in Yiddish
From:  MDodick

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?
From:  im837@sbcglobal.net

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
From:  sue123@twmi.rr.com

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 Executive/Management Consultant, Organizational Development/Team Building 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 -- www.stressdoc.com

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:

+ Stress and Burnout and Rebuilding the Fire
+ Anger Management and Managing Difficult People
+ Growing from Loss, Grief and Depression
+ Couple Counseling and Family Issues
+ Career/Life/Relationship Transition
+ Conflict Resolution and Team Building
+ Executive and Management Coaching
+ Organizational Downsizing and Change
+ Time Management and Personal Organization
+ Motivation and High Performance/Anxiety Issues

Flexibility in length and availability for coaching-consultation sessions; day and evening times.  Fee to be determined during the first contact/consultation.  The first phone or online contact/consultation (up to 15 minutes) is free.

For more information, call 301-946-0865 or email stressdoc@aol.com.

Organizational Clients have included:

Dupont Corporation, SAP--Human Capital Forum/ASUGS, Celebrity Cruise Lines, America Online, Kelley School of Business/Indiana University, Day and Zimmerman, Tellabs, Computer Sciences Corporation, SkyLink: The Airline Ticket Center, Biography Magazine, US Pharmacopeia, Skadden Arps (Intl law Firm), Patton Boggs (Intl Law Firm), LTS, Blackbaud, Georgetown University

CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2005, Human Resources Association--Natl. Capital Area, Society of Human Resource Management, Business Owners and Managers Assn Intl, Airplane Owners and Pilots Association, Association of Legal Administrators, International Personnel Management Assn, Association of Insurance & Financial Advisors, American College of Physicians, National Wildlife Federation, Defense Research Institute, American Industrial Hygiene Association

Government Agencies: 
Australian Embassy, Centers for Disease Control, Health & Human Services--Div. of Acquisition Management, DOD/Population Health and Health Promotion, Department of Justice, National Institutes of Health, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (including National Weather Service), Army Corps of Engineers, Naval Sea Systems Command, Department of Commerce, US Postal Service, Fairfax County Govt., Suffolk, VA

2.  Stress Doc Books:

Make check to:  Mark Gorkin
Send to:

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" ideas for:

§ 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 feature…is his 'psychohumor' essays.  Always witty, thought-provoking, and helpful."  With this easy-to-follow, fast-paced, and fun health and wellness guide, you'll return often to Practice Safe Stress.

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

E-Book:  $15


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 stressdoc@aol.com or call 301-946-0865.

(c)  Mark Gorkin  2005
Shrink Rap Productions