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The Stress Doc Letter
Cybernotes from the Online Psychohumorist ™

JAN 2004

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

Table of Contents

       Training Kit; R&R CD & Safe Stress E-Book; AOL Chat
Shrink Rap: 
    A Stress Guide for Overachievers
Heads Up:
       Anger E-Book, Mid-Columbia, WA & MD Cold Fusion User Group
          Coffee Clashes & Who's in Charge?

Sec. II

Main Essay:  
  Disarming a Critical Aggressor:  Part I

     Best wishes and good adventures for the New Year!

A. Offerings:

1. Training/Marketing Kit:

Want to strengthen your ability to lead or market a stress workshop or any kind of speaking/training program?  Consider the Stress Doc Training/Marketing Kit, which includes both "how to" manual, 20-minute highlights video, and articles, as well as the opportunity for phone coaching.  For more info
: Training/Marketing Kit http://stressdoc.com/kitbook.htm or email.

2. "R & R" (Rap & Relaxation) CD:

(a) Relaxation-Visualization CD (10-minutes); with three Shrink Raps™ and two of the Stress Doc's classic articles:  "The Four Stags of Burnout" and "The Stress Doc's 'Top Ten' Stress Tips."  (Total time:  55-minutes.)

Price:  $15


3.  Stress Doc Books:

a) E-BOOK: Hot off the Adobe File; Ready for Download

Practicing Safe Stress:  Healing and Laughing in the Face of Stress, Burnout & Depression
, 2004, Doc Enterprises The Stress Doc's Store Front

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.  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"
§ Becoming an "organizational 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.

Price:  $15


b) Hard Copy Book -- Truly on the Cutting Edge

From Stress Brakes and Shrink Rap to Safe Stress and Cool Moon Cats:
The Wit and Wisdom of the Stress Doc
, Stress Doc Enterprises, 1995

A 90 page compilation of my former syndicated radio essays, pioneering songs in the field of psychologically humorous rap music -- "Shrink Rap" Productions - a creative visualization poem and other humorous lyrics/poems. "Stress Brake" radio essays are short (300 words), fast-paced and witty, covering such topics as stress, burnout, anger and conflict resolution, time management, creativity, men's and women's issues, romantic relationships, codependency, etc. (They make excellent fillers for newsletters.)

Price: $20
(which covers priority postage and handling)

To purchase books and/or tape, make check payable to:  Mark Gorkin

Send check to:

Mark Gorkin
Stress Doc Enterprises
1616 18th Street, NW  #312
Washington, DC 20009-2542

Questions?  Call 202-232-8662

4. Chat Group:

Stop by my AOL/Digital City Shrink Rap (TM) and Group Chat DC Debate Tuesdays, 9:30-11pm EST DC Support Chat (Alas, only for AOL members.)

Shrink Rap:

Well, if imitation is a high form of flattery, then my ego definitely feels stroked.  My good friend Chere Eastern, founder of Career Coaches Intl., took basic concepts and structure from one of my past articles on HR Stress Survival and generated a terrific article on stress in the law field.  Chere coaches and puts on seminars for various legal professionals.  And her article has relevance beyond the courtroom or legal boardroom.


Career Coaches International Newsletter

December 2003


I don't know anyone in the legal field who considers themselves an underachiever. Your employer may have a different perspective of you, but frankly, just surviving in this highly intelligent, crisis managed, fast-paced, exceedingly demanding, ever-changing arena can result in a predictable result: Chronic stress!

Mark Groin, a Washington, DC therapist, speaker and trainer is AOL's "The Stress Doc" and a good friend. Many the nights I've called him to validate my career passions -- my emotions psyched up, attention focused and enthusiasm fired up only to have him remind me to pace myself and to practice "Safe Stress." "Harness a lightning-paced business environment," he says. Dang, and just when I thought those cold sweats at night were pre-menopausal not suppressed anxiety.

This Mess Called Stress....

In today's unstable and constantly changing, merging and purging world of "do more with less" work environment, legal professionals bridge the gap between attorneys, clients and supervisors. In fact, it's at the intersection of challenge and performance pressure that you can find yourself confronted with lack of sufficient control to deal with high pitched and fast paced demands. According to Gorkin, there are a number of job-related stressors:

1. Availability and accountability:
Attorneys generally believe that all legal professionals should be at their beck and call. If you totally buy into the rescuer role, taking every problem home at night -- beware: burnout is less a sign of failure and more that you gave yourself away.

2. Objectivity:
The legal professional must also be an objective and concerned advocate for the attorney, client and various law firm departments and vendors they must bring together. Non-attorneys must be a robust problem-solving force in the organization or otherwise flounder about.

3. Multiple Roles:
It's not surprising that the non-attorney often plays many roles from mini-associate, trainer, conduit, grunt, peacemaker, authority figure, organizer and concerned advocate. And, if that's not enough, you must be the back up when there are breakdowns or problems with a) cases or matters b) witnesses c) filings d) communications e) critical deadlines f) assignments and more.

4. Crisis Management:
A potential danger is the belief that you are the center of the law firm solar system. All organizational matters of the case or matter depends on your energy source. When certain crises are outside your sphere of productive "hands on" influence and resist the "solo savior syndrome" role.

5. Constantly changing technology:
Like the rest of the corporate world, you keep up with new software and data processing systems. New software to ease the pain of litigation, case management and deadlines appears almost weekly. Getting up and running technologically takes longer than anticipated. Glitch happens!

Consider these questions to assess your "stressability": 1) Are you heroically still trying to be all things to all people? 2) Are you servicing a greater number of assignments than ever before? 3) Is there more pressure now than ever before to hit a minimum billable requirement? 4) Are you a slave to deadlines or frustrated from an apparent lack of time? 5) Do you accept too many responsibilities? 6) Are you scheduling more than you can do realistically? 7) Are you reluctant to admit you need or ask for help? 8) Are you afraid to take a vacation? 9) Are you afraid to make a mistake? 10) Are you cynical, callous, feel helpless or in constant crisis? If you answered "yes" to any of these, beware! Stress can lead to burnout, unhealthy boundaries or ill-health. This downward spiral can lead to feelings of being trapped or feeling paralyzed. Remember: Hitting bottom means there's no more downward spiral.

Here are five survival strategies I have put together based on Gorkin's philosophy:

1) Balance interdependence and autonomy:
Strive to project an image of operational objectivity and team player while performing highly sophisticated assignments. At the same time, develop a capacity for "detached involvement," that is, being sensitive to legal issues and concerns while resisting the rescuer role. If you're always taking work home literally or emotionally, your personal boundaries are starting to erode.

2) Reach out to specialists and consultants:
Whether you take things too personally, feel overwhelmed or are working incredible overtime, don't be that lone Rambo or Rambette. Reach out for expert support, particularly if you are working with the Green-eyed Monster in the corner office. Collaborate with an Employee Assistance Program counselor; go to your HR department or a supervisor with the power to help you. For widespread department tension, consider using a corporate change/critical intervention consultant.

3) Balance assignments and human relating:
Beware the solitary document reviewer, sequestered in your cubicle! Don't lose the human touch. Periodically, walk around the firm. Swap stories with folks at lunch or breaks. Rotate different hats. The Stress Doc advocates "fireproofing your life with variety!"

4) Encourage independence by setting boundaries:
Here are three boundary-setting strategies that enable you to successfully juggle various roles and responsibilities: a) Delegation: Delegate when it is appropriate. This critical stress management tool gives others a chance to demonstrate their skills and expertise while you monitor their performance. b) Education: Help others not to be so dependent upon your indispensable knowledge. Train others on assignment-related procedures and move yourself up that invisible career ladder. c) Separation: Balance accessibility and boundaries with "closed door" time. Master the stress management mantra: "Give of yourself and give to yourself!"

5) Maximize team meetings:
Productive team meetings are essential for sharing an emotionally demanding workload. Meetings need to be more than time and task driven. Build in a fifteen- minute "wavelength" segment for group brainstorming and venting around emotionally tough issues dealing with deadlines, strategy, turf battles with other departments, cultural diversity tensions, etc. Don't use this as a gripe session; use it as a vehicle for new ideas and get valuable input from other team members.

In these tough corporate times, being a survivor is not enough. You can get mighty old in quite a hurry if you're giving to your law firm and not to yourself. In that stressed-out mode, you may find those Botox commercials awfully appealing. Remember, we're not human doings, rather, we are human beings -- the secret to a less stressful and more fun filled life!

Heads Up:

1) New Stress Doc E-Book on "Transforming Anger" Poised for Publication

The Four Faces of Anger:  Model and Method

Transforming Anger, Rage & Conflict
Into Inspiring Attitude & Behavior

Price:  $10

Table of Contents

I. Anger:  Theoretical Overview and Technical Application

1) The Four Faces of Anger:  A Model for Transformation   [P. 1]
· conceptual foundation for debunking one-sided nature of anger and for transforming rage and hostility; glean the "Four Angry "I"s"

2) The "Volatile-Victim" Employee and the Belligerent-Impaired Manager   [P. 9]
How to Transform Rage Into an Assertive Plan
· case vignette illustrates "Four Faces" model as a diagnostic and intervention too; an employee confronts his past and overcomes present rage

3) The Transformational Potential of Rage   [P. 16]
· positives of rage:  gets attention, crisis signal and potential for creative breakout

4) Seven Styles of Self-Defeating Anger   [P. 18]
· illustrations of dysfunctional anger to destructive expression that hit close to home

5) A Profile of the Violence-Prone Personality   [P. 22]
· key characteristics include power and control and rigid righteousness

6) Alarming "You"s and Disarming "I"s:  Part I   [P. 29]
Power Struggles vs. Powerful Strategies
. assertive "I" messages vs. blaming "You"s along with role-play and other disarming strategies

7) Transforming Aggression Into Higher Power "I"s   [P. 32]
An IDEAL Method of Engagement
· higher power assistance and IDEAL method helps the Doc turn around a provocative supervisor

8) Disarming a Critical Aggressor   [P. 37]
Awareness, Assertion and Affirmation Techniques and Strategies
· a harshly critical role-play exercise illuminates defensive reaction vs. effective response

9) Quiet Flows the Courage   [P. 51]
· an example of standing up to hostile authority:  killing them softly

10) Embracing Criticism:  Quick Tips   [P. 52]
· from consequences of being thin-skinned to handling destructive, vague and valid criticism

11) Listening, Learning and Leading   [P. 53]
Technical Skill and Motivational Art
· four keys of active listening and foundational concepts for relation-based communication

12) Defining Conflict and the "Murray Story"   [P. 56]
· a classic ego-power struggle involving boss-employee, generation gap and hard heads

13) Communication Strategies at the Communal Battlefront   [P. 58]
Surviving Laundry Wars
· defusing an aggressor before the spin cycle gets out of control

14) Creative Couple/Family Counseling   [P. 61]
Discovering the Paradoxical Pass in the Impasse
· paradoxical and playful strategies help motivate a "special ed" kid while rebuilding a father-son and husband-wife bond

15) Disarming Aggression and Organizational Power Struggles   [P. 64]
From the Heart of Team Focus to the Art of "Tongue Foo-ey"
· from verbal martial arts to diplomatic aggression with a "Nursus Tyrannosaurus"

II.  Disarming Aggression Vignettes

1) Challenging Aggression   [P. 68]
· dealing with know-it-alls through quotes and comebacks

2) Gaining Control   [P. 69]
· creatively and outrageously disarming a tantrum throwing three-year-old

3) Guilt Buster   [P. 70]
· don't bust a gut; use the mother of all busters

4) Disarming Humor   [P. 71]
The Fallacy of Sincerity
· saving face and getting the narcissist to laugh at himself

5) Bridge the Divide, Laugh and Conquer   [P. 72]
· taking your antagonist's best shot and overcoming diversity barriers

6) Playfully Disarming a Provocative Exchange   [P. 73]
The Art of "Tongue-Foo-ey"
· don't go postal; playfully bite the hand that feeds you

7) Finding the Pass in the Impasse   [P. 73]
· when being on the hot seat has your brain cookin'

8) Disrupting Escalating Group Tension When Consensus Is Critical   [P. 74]
· an embattled jury and a hair-raising trial with the Stress Doc

9) Defusing Tension in a Wartime Environment   [P. 76]
· out of the box absurdity rescues folks from in-house wartime stress

10) The Mastery of Jealousy:  Old Rabbi Tale   [P. 77]
· creative use of paradox helps a "problem child" feel special

11) Birds of a Feather:  Old Rabbi Tale   [P. 78]
· holiday costuming leads to courage with peers and healthier mother-son relating

III. Anger Q & As

1) Challenging Rudeness with Tactful Assertiveness   [P. 79]
· assertive questioning to awaken a rude individual

2) Managing the Quietly Surly and Passive-Aggressive Employee   [P. 80]
· five strategies:  from peer confrontation to critical intervention

3) Understanding and Dealing with a Control Freak" Boss/Owner in   [P. 84]
Times of Rapid Change
· identifies challenges for small business owners and tips for not freaking out when an employee

4) Fortifying a Wounded SELF with Hostile Relatives   [P. 90]
· confronting Sensitivity, Envy, Loyalty and Fairness (SELF)

5) Grieving the Historic Loss of Nurturing and the Impending Death   [P. 95]
of a Cold, Hurtful Mother
· strategic grief tips, including acceptance of anger and of mother's weaknesses and strengths

IV. It's a Rap!

1) The Self-Righteous Rap   [99]
2) The Song of Safe Stress   [101]

If you'd like a copy, just send me an email.

2) Voice of the Mid-Columbia:  The cities of Kennewick, Pasco and Richland, Washington; holiday stress interview

3) Maryland Cold Fusion User Group; will be doing Speaker Coaching in Jan with the monthly meeting presenters

Readers' Submissions

Subj:   Coffee Clashes (or Not So Heavenly Coffee)

From:  MDodick

A husband and wife were having an argument about who should brew the coffee each morning. The wife said, "You should do it, because you get up first, and then we don't have to wait as long to get our coffee."

The husband said, "You are in charge of the cooking around here and you should do it, because that is your job, and I can just wait for my coffee."

Wife replies, "No you should do it, and besides it is in the Bible that the man should do the coffee."

Husband replies, "I can't believe that, show me."

So she fetched the Bible, and opened the New Testament and shows him at the top of several pages, that it indeed says .... "HEBREWS"

Subj:   Who's in Charge?

From:   MDodick

"I should be in charge," said the blood, "because I circulate oxygen all over, so without me you'd all waste away."

"I should be in charge," said the stomach, "because I process food and give all of you energy."

"I should be in charge," said the legs, "because I carry the body wherever it needs to go."

"I should be in charge," said the eyes, "because I allow the body to see where it goes."

"I should be in charge," said the rectum, "because I'm responsible for waste removal."

All the other body parts laughed at the rectum and insulted him, so in a huff, he shut down tight.

Within a few days, the brain had a terrible headache, the stomach was bloated, the legs got wobbly, the eyes got watery, and the blood was toxic.

They all decided that the rectum should be the boss.

The Moral of the story?

The asshole is usually in charge.

Mark Gorkin, LICSW, "The Stress Doc" ™
, an international/Celebrity Cruise Lines speaker, training consultant, psychotherapist, syndicated writer, and upcoming author of Practice Safe Stress:  Healing and Laughing in the Face of Stress, Burnout & Depression.  Mark, recently interviewed by BBC Radio, has a multi-award-winning, USA Today Online "HotSite" -- www.stressdoc.com -- cited as workplace resource in a National Public Radio feature.  As AOL's "Online Psychohumorist," ™ Mark runs his weekly Shrink Rap and Group Chat.  Email for his monthly newsletter recently showcased on List-a-Day.com.For more info on the Doc's "Practice Safe Stress" programs, email stressdoc@aol.com or call 202-232-8662.

(c)  Mark Gorkin  2004

Shrink Rap Productions