The Stress Doc Letter
Cybernotes from the Online Psychohumorist ™
SEP 2004, Sec. II
Note: The following two pieces have appeared in recent Stress Doc Newsletters.
However, the pieces have been significantly modified. In other words, both have
been works in progress. The first one, "Thermostatic Leadership," has been both
tightened up and has a new case example. The second piece is a slimmed down
version of the SPEED Rap. Enjoy these leaner-and meaner variations.]
A Thermostatic Framework for
Leadership and Motivation
employees just don’t seem to understand what I say to them. Are we speaking the
same language? When I make assignments or give them goals, they give me back
work that’s different than what I had asked. The work is late, incorrect, or
sloppy. What’s wrong with them?”
Have you sung
these lyrics before? You are not alone. Whose fault is it anyway? Where do we
place blame? Maybe neither party is solely responsible; maybe it’s a matter of
reaching a different level of understanding between you and your employees. Of
course, the obvious question: how to reach a level of understanding and
effective communication that has both parties working together to achieve the
desired outcomes – from meeting (or exceeding) performance goals to experiencing
job satisfaction? Toward these ends, we offer a new management problem-solving
tool and process called Thermostatic Leadership (TL). We believe TL will help
the manager/supervisor and the employee strengthen the working relationship and
help meet their performance objectives.
a working definition:
Leadership is a negotiation process between the supervisor and the employee that
encourages input, discussion, and the mutual establishment of role and
responsibility expectations, performance objectives, as well as ongoing, two-way
feedback that positively influences the quality and productivity of the working
relationship and the work output.
supervisor or manger ultimately has responsibility for the process and outcome,
the importance of articulating needs and concerns, providing timely feedback and
flexible problem-solving means that both parties contribute to or may even take
the lead in initiating or adjusting thermostatic settings. Each person strives
to recognize and articulate both subjective and objective needs and expectations
as well as performance baselines, operational concerns, and comfort levels.
When supervisor and employee are on the same thermostatic page, there is:
understanding between parties around project expectations,
genuine “buy-in” with project methods and outcomes, and
recognition and rapid reporting of errors and misunderstandings, i.e., it is
natural for there to be some deviation from initial baseline expectations and
standards based on actual supervisor-employee behaviors, resources, and
performance. (This normalization of error along with timely corrective
mechanisms is especially salient in today’s “do more with less” or, too often,
“crisis management” organizational climate.)
thermostat analogy seems apt, especially when flexibility and feedback are
operational requisites. The thermostat is an instrument that adjusts the warmth
or coolness of a room when ambient conditions are at variance with the current
baseline temperature setting. For example, if people perceive a room to be too
cold, the thermostatic setting can be moved up and warmer air streams out. If
the room becomes too warm, the thermostat will kick out cool air. And, if the
resultant room temperature is still not desirable, the thermostat can be further
lowered or raised. When just right, when all are comfortable, the thermostat is
left alone. Consider the example of several people living in the same house.
These folks may discuss, negotiate, and decide what the temperature setting
should be. Another scenario has one person or a select group of people setting
the rules (or making correct or incorrect assumptions) about who can adjust the
thermostat or what the optimal comfort level setting should be. Sometimes the
bill payer is the thermostatic numbers setter.
thermostats even contain programming features so that the temperature is raised
and lowered according to a pre-set program. Or, in some auditoriums the
thermostat is under lock and key. No one can adjust it, but if enough people
are too cold, they will complain. The “boss” or engineer comes in with the key
and raises the thermostat.
this thermostatic office possibility: some self-sacrificing souls may appear to
be adapting to the uncomfortable ambient conditions. These folks don’t complain
overtly but they indirectly protest by slowing down their work efforts. In a
public setting, some uncomfortable individuals may choose to leave and/or not
return. If you were a restaurant owner, for example, this latter scenario would
not be good for business.
Operational Components and Pillars of TL and the
Challenge of Authority
As noted, the
components of Thermostatic Leadership are:
1) open and
real dialogue between supervisor-employee,
circumstances dictate otherwise, a negotiated decision-making process with
objectives and action plans
3) honest and
timely two-way performance feedback and the monitoring of project progress.
effectiveness of such an open framework is based on pillars of integrity, that
is, the participants’: a) personal self-awareness and professional maturity, b)
job-related knowledge, skill and experience and c) capacity for clear and
objective, assertive and empathic communication. And, understandably, a key
challenge to the integrity of Thermostatic Leadership and its goals of open
dialogue, trust building, and high performance is the status and power
differences between the supervisor or manager and the employee.
Many of us have
some issues with authority: a) whether it’s competently and confidently
enacting the various roles and responsibilities of being an authority figure or
b) whether it’s dealing with the issues and emotions related to control and
dependency when in a subordinate role. When authority issues are a source of
internal or interpersonal static oftentimes “message sent is not message
received.” (And if an authority intimidates an employee, or vice versa,
sometimes the message – especially the “bad news” – is never sent.)
Key Dynamics and Assumptions
for a successful Thermostatic Setting/Leadership process include:
a) the overall
open and honest communication – the degree of trust – between the parties,
vs. personal boundary issues or social or emotional closeness, i.e., the degree
of formality and informality between the parties, for example, is the
relationship seen in a hierarchical, supervisor-subordinate context or more in
the context of teammates or a collegial partnership,
c) the amount
of supervisory direction needed or employee discretion allowed for successful
performance outcomes, i.e., the degree of independence, dependence and/or
interdependence displayed by the individuals as well as comprising the working
d) degree of
perceived safety and/or ease in acknowledging any static or discomfort in the
initial expectations around roles and responsibilities, resources, and
performance output, i.e., the original thermostatic setting,
e) degree of
perceived safety and/or ease in the timely reporting of actual or anticipated
errors from the initial negotiated performance (thermostatic) standard, and
f) based on the
above feedback, the ability of both parties to establish anew effective (“do the
right thing”) and efficient (“do the thing right”) baseline thermostatic
settings and the valid monitoring of results.
highlight three key working assumptions:
1. Need for
When openness and give and take are the norm, both parties are comfortable
listening and asking questions and sharing concerns, or are working toward this
level of openness. This give and take includes defining the project problem,
articulating expectations regarding the process of problem solving, and agreeing
on measures of progress, successful performance, and project completion,
Need for Uncertainty.
Oftentimes, both the supervisor and the employee may need to view an initial
thermostatic setting process as an experiment or a guesstimate regarding
eventual comfort levels and outcome projections. If either party insists on
rigid control of the process, rapid and honest feedback and flexible problem
solving will likely be inhibited. Also, engaging in an uncertain learning curve
process invariably is accompanied by startup and performance anxiety. It may
not only be the employee feeling performance pressure. A supervisor reporting
to a perfectionist, overly critical, or impatient boss may feel compelled to
micromanage the employee, thereby short-circuiting an open and potentially
productive thermostatic process.
thermostatic learning and leading will likely be subverted when a supervisor or
manager is overly invested in an employee making the supervisor or manager look
good. Subversion also occurs when a manager is determined not to have any
employee make error waves or expose the supervisor or the department. High tech
and high touch or emotional support during this period of trial and error is
3. Need for
In today’s “always on” business climate, projects are started even though the
perfect template or prototype hasn’t been extensively tested or completed. Only
by jumping into the water can you really gauge the project temperature, its
depth, and where the alligators are lurking. (Hence the need for rapid
corrections.) Absent a dysfunctional or mistake-riddled pattern of performance,
error is first and foremost seen as an opportunity to mutually strengthen the
effectiveness and efficiency of the thermostatic settings. Engaging with errors
helps generate ongoing adaptive responses that will increase the quality and
productivity of performance outcomes and ultimate goal achievement. And, for
example, a supervisor perceiving employee error as a basis for learning curve
opportunity and growth will likely enhance interpersonal comfort and trust
levels. Naturally, this assumes that the employee makes productive course
corrections in line with the newly negotiated thermostatic settings.
Case Examples I: Closeness vs. Distance
Here are two
vignettes that illustrate common work relationship and performance expectation
problems. Both examples assume the following psychosocial premise: People come
to the workplace from varied demographic and geographic backgrounds bringing an
array of ethnic-cultural values. Individuals also differ by personality type,
e.g., tendencies toward introversion and extraversion, as well as motivation
levels, e.g., the degree of balance between the need for achievement and the
need for affiliation. And people carry around personal and professional
expectations often shaped by the individual’s work and organizational history.
example provided by one of the authors highlights the importance of clarifying
personal professional boundary expectations as well as the misunderstanding that
can occur with unacknowledged and unrecognized assumptions. (The supervisor’s
name has been changed.):
years ago I worked for Peter Sawyer in Human Resources at a major computer
company. It was part of the corporate culture for people to socialize with one
another, maybe even become friends. I was working for the company for four
years; in fact I grew up in this company. It was a great fit for me. My boss
hired Sawyer to come in as my manager. Sawyer is a straightforward, tell it
like it is kind of person. I didn’t care as I was doing my work and doing it
well. We were getting along, time was moving on, and Sawyer let me do my job.
knowing that Sawyer and his wife were new to the area, I decided to invite them
to my house. It would be a good opportunity for each of us to get to know one
another more casually; perhaps in a somewhat more intimate setting. When I
asked Sawyer he said, "NO, I don't do that. I don't fraternize with employees!"
I was taken
aback. I thought that was odd and his response was a bit abrupt. Shortly after
that I wondered if he thought I was trying to get on his good side. People at
this company get together all the time. It was not too much later that Sawyer
invited my family to dinner at his house. I wondered about the change; why was
it now okay to "fraternize." I didn't get the answer then but with newfound
understanding I can answer it now.
I asked Sawyer about it and his answer didn't surprise me. He said the culture
of his former employer established a definite boundary between the professional
and the personal. He had brought that expectation with him: coworkers don't
socialize with one another. I had thought he was wrong for not accepting my
invitation. He had thought I was out of bounds for asking. Neither one of us
were wrong. The misunderstanding was based on the divergent perspectives from
our varying organizational experiences.
illustrates how expectations derived from past experience definitely color and
shape our positions, preferences, and possibilities: believing can affect seeing
as much as "seeing is believing." And adding to this psychological and
communicational complexity, the sources of our beliefs or the reasons why we
hold onto them so strongly are not always fully conscious.
when it came to out of office socializing, the individual thermostatic
expectations and boundary-comfort settings were clashing, if not culturally
contradictory. In addition, we are dealing with different thermostatic
personalities. In our example, it’s clear that our co-author functions best in
a very warm to hot thermostatic temperature range, especially when it comes to
interpersonal openness. (She’s a “red.”) However, it’s likely that Sawyer saw
his employee as inappropriately forward, as being in an invasive “red hot”
state. Conversely, Sawyer is at the opposite range of the thermostat,
functioning optimally in colder settings. The co-author’s initial impression
was of a supervisor being old-fashioned and rigid, operating from a cool if not
“ice blue” state.
surprisingly, the goal of Thermostatic Leadership is to negotiate a range (often
times in the mid-range or a mixture of warm and cool elements) where each person
has a “good enough” comfort level and both can operate with optimal
effectiveness to reach their goals.
Thermostatic Leadership in Action
Now, using the
“dinner invitation” scenario, let’s explore an array of problems-solving
responses using a thermostatic perspective. If Sawyer had used this leadership
approach might the result have been real communication and a better
understanding? For example, Sawyer could have brought up the issue of
expectations and/or comfort level: "At my former company we did not socialize
with our employees. Here that may be the custom. Let me think it over and see
if I'm comfortable making some adjustments. I'll let you know by Thursday."
option. Instead of this manager saying, "No I don't do that," (which, without
further elaboration, can be taken as superiority-driven and controlling) Sawyer
could have acknowledged that he was uneasy with his supervisee’s request. In
other words, based on her company experience, the author's
thermostatic-socializing setting was at variance with Sawyer’s
socializing/intimacy comfort level. Either way, a clearer announcement of his
thermostatic baseline would have increased the author’s understanding and
lessened the likelihood of her taking Sawyer’s position personally. This
supervisor's decision had been based on his value system, his comfort level, and
his past set of circumstances; it really did not involve the author or the
professionalism of her request.
note a third pragmatic possibility that has both sides “letting go” of their
absolute initial positions or formulations. What if the employee’s offer had
remained within the scope of the work boundary, that is, if she had invited her
supervisor to lunch? This might mean tabling her desire for more casual contact
or for meeting in a more informal or intimate setting. At the same time, it’s
an offer that may well deactivate Sawyer’s quick to kick in, strict boundary
line regarding fraternization.
offer challenges “all or none” thinking and demonstrates patience, foresight,
and a willingness to modify one’s initial position or expectation. Such an “out
of the (lunch) box” scenario may well provide a transitional option and
setting. Both parties may gradually warm to “give and take” thermostatic
processes and settings that facilitate greater closeness and less distance. The
likely result is greater flexibility in the temperature and nature of the
working relationship without compromising professional boundaries and
interpersonal comfort levels.
Case Example II: Discordant Performance
This bare bones scenario
involves HR Supervisor Tanya and Employee Sam. Tanya is giving an assignment to
install an HR Benefits Program on the company website. (She is not a computer
wiz.) Tonya is aware that in addition to being an HR Specialist, Sam has had
some programming experience, though Sam is not directly familiar with this
particular software package. Tonya has been a supervisor for two years; Sam has
been with the company for one year but has been supervised by Tanya for only two
the dialogue between Tonya and Sam, we will illustrate the thermostatic setting
process – from a problematic beginning to a more successful finish. Key
components of this process include: a) expectations around competency and
experience, b) expectations regarding timelines, c) degree of genuine
communication, and d) effectiveness of mid-course corrections. Tanya and Sam
are about to begin a project assignment meeting.
Sam, I’d like to have the new HR Benefits Program Elan Vitale (EV) installed on
the company website. I know you have web and programming experience; are you
familiar with this program?
Sam: I’m not
familiar with this specific program, but having skimmed the manual, I know I’ve
worked with similar programs. It shouldn’t be a problem getting it installed
Tanya: So you
don’t feel it will be a problem getting EV operationalized, including uploading
the various files?
Sam: No, it’s
has some questions about his own experience and proficiency with this program,
but is not sharing his questions or concerns. He doesn’t want Tanya to think
he’s not knowledgeable or capable.)
Tanya: Can we
have EV running in a week?
Great. Just give me a call when you are finished.
Ten days have
elapsed and Sam has not been able to upload the data. Tanya went to the website
expecting to see EV installed and running. Not seeing the program, she was
frustrated. She calls Sam into her office and, in an impatient tone, confronts
what happened? I thought you said you would have EV totally operational within
some half-hearted excuses, Sam finally confesses.
Sam: I guess
I really wasn’t as familiar with the program installation, operation and
uploading process as I thought.
you seemed so confident. Did you have any questions or concerns about this
assignment or your comfort and confidence level when we first discussed the
nods his head. Now Tanya is really exasperated.
didn’t you say so? Why weren’t you more honest about your concerns?
Sam: I didn’t
want you to think I wasn’t up to the task.
Tanya: And I
just assumed when I didn’t hear from you that all was going smoothly. Hmmm.
I’m angry about not getting honest feedback initially. At the same time, I do
appreciate you being forthcoming now. Clearly, we both need to take a look at
how we set up this project.
Sam’s concerns about the project and his own skills, experience and comfort
level, Tanya continues.
do you feel you can successfully handle this project? And if so, what will it
Sam: If I get
some consulting support from IT regarding installment and uploading, I should be
able to complete the project in one week.
spells out whom he will confer with and by when, Tanya continues.
makes sense. I also realize that there are other issues that we need to get on
the table: a) your reluctance to share your concerns and comfort level with the
assignment, b) your not getting back to me sooner when facing installation
problems, and c) the unproductive use of time and energy. Then I need to
acknowledge my contribution to this breakdown: a) my taking at
face value your
confident projections and assuming you were comfortable with the assignment and
b) my not monitoring the process or, at least, having us set up a formal
mid-stream meeting to assess how things were proceeding.
ensues around the above issues. An agreement is reached: Sam will be more
upfront with his experience, skillset, and comfort level, including project
strengths and uncertainties, when taking on assignments. When advisable, Sam
and Tanya will review potential resources. Sam will also be timelier about
reporting blocks or errors, e.g., 24-48 hours depending on the project and
timelines. Tanya will provide more startup structure; however, her goal is not
to be a micromanager. For this project, they both agree that Sam will provide a
brief daily email regarding the IT consultation and the overall progress of
installation. They will also have a face-to-face meeting after three days to
review progress on the assignment. In a week, they will meet in-person to
evaluate project status and Sam’s perspective on his performance, resource
needs, and overall progress.
more genuine dialogue, both parties are on the same thermostatic page; both are
more aware of each other’s beliefs and expectations and both are more
comfortable with the thermostatic performance settings. And finally, with the
successful completion of the project, both will give the other recognition for
their efforts and support.
has helped dismantle some barriers to genuine dialogue between supervisor and
employee. What has each person learned? Let’s begin with Tanya: a) she has a
better understanding of Sam’s strengths, defenses, and vulnerabilities, and b)
she is also aware of the ineffectiveness of her unstructured approach to
initiating and monitoring this project by assuming Sam was completely up to the
As for Sam:
a) he is less defensive about acknowledging his need for training and/or
support; he is more comfortable asking for help or reporting problems; he is
less fearful of being judged negatively, b) he is more trusting of Tanya and of
their ability to establish realistic expectations as well as achievable
objectives and action plans.
Setting Roles and Responsibilities
Who sets the
thermostat? What happens when the employee sets the thermostat? Of course, the
employee's general and situation-specific experience, quality track record, and
maturity levels will come into play when considering and/or negotiating the
degree of discretionary thermostatic setting and decision-making. Demonstrated
levels of "authority, autonomy, and accountability" -- the "Triple A of
Professional Responsibility" -- are key components in determining an interactive
thermostatic setting process. Perhaps your employees won't have full control of
the thermostat but they can make adjustments (and then get your feedback).
Naturally, in a healthy supervisor-employee thermostatic process, there needs to
be mutual feedback channels. Over time and with trust both parties can
participate. Ultimately, the power (and responsibility) is in the manager's
hand; but in most circumstances there should be opportunity for the employee to
have input, if not independently set, general thermostatic and output
standards. Ask your employees where the thermostat should be set, negotiate the
baseline, and maintain open communication when the setting needs to be raised or
How to Start the Process
Based on as
assessment of the employee’s abilities and an assessment of comfort levels, you
can start by setting the thermostat at 70 degrees and then discuss what that
means to each of you. Or, consider negotiating a mutual acceptable range. For
“The report is
due by Wed” (the outer limit), or
should be completed by the end of the week,” or
status will be reported preferably by Wed., definitely by Thursday.” In each
of the above directives, consider adding the following: “Considering your
current workload, is there any reason why you cannot have the report to me by
an expectation that your report will give you feedback. Both parties need to
buy into the thermostatic process. If the employee doesn't come back, does that
mean he or she is comfortable with the setting? Based on Case Example II –
Discordant Performance Expectations – project startup miscues, we don't suggest
making this assumption. One approach for being on the same thermostatic page is
achieved by saying, “If you have any questions with the reasonableness of the
setting (or have concerns with your comfort level) let me know. If you don't
come back to me, I will assume you are in agreement with the setting." Even
better, perhaps, build in a routine checking-in time. This should make it
easier, for example, for an employee to come back and inform you that the
assignment will not be completed on time. It certainly can make a difference in
your stress level. It's easier to "Practice Safe Stress" when the employee
gives you feedback regarding problems with the initial thermostatic/task setting
or his projected time line a few days ahead of the due date as opposed to
telling you at the eleventh hour, “Oh by the way, I’m not going to make the
If a deadline
is missed or the assignment was not started (or started considerably late),
there is thermostatic error. Try to determine the problematic factors in an
objective and nonjudgmental manner. (Just the term thermostatic error seems to
involve less "I'm right, your wrong" finger-pointing. Remember, "To err is
human….") Of course, being nonjudgmental does not negate the need for people
taking responsibility for acknowledging the critical factors contributing to
operational error or the need for modifying obstacles to a desired outcome. Was
your initial temperature setting objectively realistic? Was the employee’s
buy-in on the setting genuine? It's time to go back and review the settings.
Make sure that all parties agree on the thermostatic baselines and contingencies
for modification. Examine, clarify, and provide the instructions for the
assignment. Does the employee truly understand your expectations? Ask him/her
to repeat back the instructions and to paraphrase the procedures if and when
running into problems with the assignment. As indicated earlier, in this
system, unless excessive or egregious, error equates with opportunity for
performance improvement and trust building in the supervisor-employee
One-Way and Team Setting
There are times
when managers must exercise their right to engage in unidirectional
communication. An example would be when the employee's safety is at risk. The
manager in this case sets the temperature and whether the employee likes the
feel of it or not, he or she can't change it. Perhaps at a later or safer
point, dissatisfaction can be expressed and the manager and employee can restart
the thermostatic process. Of course, if the employee believes the manager is
acting in an unsafe, unprofessional, or unethical manner, and the latter refuses
to make course corrections, then an employee may be compelled to have a third
party intervene in this process.
Also, when a
team is working towards a common goal, there must be consensus and good enough
buy-in. If one person does not agree on the temperature setting, hopefully,
he/she can adjust in the interest of working as a team member. The employee can
put on a sweater and still be productive within the team. Obviously, achieving
team consensus through a thermostatic process will involve both one-on-one and
small group negotiation, including at times working with positive allies and
disarming negative cliques. Clearly, a process factor to be weighed is the
investment of upfront time. Even though a thermostatic leadership or management
process may take more time, whether in a one-on-one or in a team setting, why
should a manager consider this procedural paradigm? By involving your people
early on in the thermostatic process you will gain the most employee buy-in to
and understanding of the company's mission as well as your specific goals and
objectives. Your employees will more likely believe they are part of the big
vision and daily operations. They will have more meaningful input along with a
greater sense of control in their job performance and, hopefully, more
productive learning curves. They may also report greater job satisfaction. And
the benefits are not all high task. Don't be surprised if you and your
employees reach new levels of comfort and trust. Now wouldn't that be really
TIPS FOR USING THERMOSTATIC MANAGEMENT
1. As you and
your employee establish thermostatic settings, be aware of differences in
backgrounds, personality, and experience. Acknowledge the differences. Ask:
“Can you help me understand your thinking, that is, can you help me better grasp
your thermostatic preferences, comfort, and discomfort levels, etc.?”
2. Reduce the
potential for personality and gender (or race, age conflict, etc. issues). For
example, consider asking: Does my being female (or male) affect our ability to
communicate in any way? If so, how so?
3. Allow for
startup vulnerability and learning curve anxiety when trying to institute a
thermostatic process. Remember, errors usually are perceived (at least
initially) as natural and highly functional, not abnormal or dysfunctional.
4. Flexibly use
your "authority" personae. What do your employees expect from you as the
"authority figure?" Despite being the authority, whenever possible try to
achieve an adult-to-adult communication exchange rather than a superior to
discipline, reward, and a process of communicating/thermostatic setting and
negotiating that both you and the employee find workable, mutually motivating,
and that leads to successful outcomes. Build in periodic check-in points for
monitoring comfort and output levels.
trust and create an environment in which employees feel safe providing you
feedback. Be open to employee input and you and your employees will begin to
dismantle bricks from that wall of misunderstanding, fear, and nonproductive
distance. (Most people don't always expect "agreement"; they do, however, want
some "acknowledgment" that their message – their thermostatic offering – has
been received.) If your employees think you are listening and not dismissing
them, you begin to establish trust. People feel it's safe to disagree or
challenge constructively the authority.
7. Turn a confrontation into
collaboration. Constructive engagement means employees are not devaluing or
disrespecting your position but are confronting your take on issues and
problems, procedures, and/or solutions. The payoff for this openness and the
subsequent mutual thermostatic setting exchange is a more highly invested and
motivated problem-solver, and a greater sense of supervisor-employee
24/7 SPEED Rap:
By Mark Gorkin, "The Stress Doc"
What is the source of modern duress?
Why not today's mantra: "Do more with less!"
And forget that life-line between work and home
Your soul has been transferred to a cellular phone.
But...with 24/7 your ticket to heaven
Or at least a promotion
Why still the whining and all the commotion?
Hey the question, "To be or not to be"
Is quickly resolved with an SUV.
Unless, alas, as a matter of course,
Your job's now in India and you've been outsourced.
Still, no going postal on that boss.
The powers that be truly feel your loss.
So what is the answer to modern duress?
Should you try Prozac?
Is it time to confess
To ebay shopping -- which may be a warning
When you're clicking madly at three in the morning?
But relax, have no fear...
The Stress Doc is here to lay worries to rest
Now listen and learn to Practice Safe Stress!
As you sprint to the wire with blood pressure higher
Timeless mind-body tips to heed
For slowing down, getting feet on the ground
And building Natural SPEED.
"S" is for "Sleep"
Now don't be cheap
Seven hours, at least
To be a beauty with mental acuity
Not that snooze-button bashing beast.
"P" stands for "Priority"
You can't do it all everyday.
Urgent means now but important can wait.
Do you know how...to "N & N"?:
Just say "No and Negotiate!"
"E" is for the "Empathy"
Found in a caring shoulder.
But all give without take is a big mistake
For now you shoulder a boulder.
The second "E" is for "Exercise"
Start pumping iron or those thighs.
You may not need SSRIs.
Try thirty minutes of non-stop spin
For your mood uplifting endorphin.
And, finally, "D" is for a healthy "Diet"
Many would rather die than try it.
To manage foods you crave
Grieve, "let go" and then be brave
Sending diet fads to an early grave.
So eat those fruits and veggies
Try fish oils and soy protein.
For too much fats and sugar
Excess alocohol and caffeine
Is a rollercoaster formula
For an artery-clogged machine.
It's time to end this Shrink Rap
With final tips for you --
"A firm 'No' a day keeps the ulcers away, and the hostilities too."
So to lessen daily woes, "Do know your limits, don't limit your 'No's!"
Ponder this Stress Doc wit and wisdom
Try to live it day after day:
Burnout is not a sign of failure
You simply gave yourself away.
Remember, sometimes less is more
And more is really less.
Balance work and play, faith and love
And, of course...Practice Safe Stress!
SEP Programs: Completed
1. Washington Navy Yard.
Conference. 75 minute workshop on The Science and Art of Personal Motivation
and 75 minute workshop on Managing Stress and Team survival Skills.
2. Estrin Paralegal Conference. One hour featured speaker; Stress and Team
Building program; Chicago.
3. US Dept. of Justice. 90 minute Stress, Team Building & Humor program for
Environment and Natural Resources Division; Annapolis, MD.
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. Practice Safe Stress CD
This 30-minute audio CD is divided into four sections:
Section I: The Four Stages of Burnout
1. Physical, Mental & Emotional Exhaustion
2. Shame & Doubt
3. Cynicism & Callousness
4. Failure, Helplessness & Crisis
Section II: Three Steps to Burnout Recovery
(based on the Stress Doc's own rehab from burnout)
1. Good Grief
2. Four "R"s of Rehabilitation & Rejuvenation
a) Four "R"s -- Running, Reading, Writing and Retreating
3. Transition & Diversification
a) letting go and shaking up your work-life puzzle and paradigm
Section III: Two Burnout Prevention Strategies
A. Natural SPEED
a) Sleep, Priorities, Empathy, Exercise & Diet
B. Four "C"s of Psychological Hardiness -- based on research with former AT&T
a) Commitment, Control, Change & Conditioning
Section IV: Two Shrink Raps (TM)
A. Stress Doc's Stress Rap
B. Double-edged Depression
3. Stress Doc Books:
a) Really Hot: The Paperback Version of Practice Safe Stress "live":
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; $7 in
Mexico and Canada; other international destinations to be determined
Or, download: The Stress Doc's Store Front
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
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:
Ø Identify self-defeating styles of anger and violence-prone personalities
Ø Transform hostility and rage into assertion and passion
Ø Confront directly or disarm outrageously critics and (passive) aggressors
Ø Bust the guilt not burst a gut
Ø 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: $23.95 (includes shipping and handling)
c) Paper 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:
Stress Doc Enterprises
1616 18th Street, NW #312
Washington, DC 20009-2542
Questions? Call 202-232-8662 or email email@example.com
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.)
Mark Gorkin, LICSW, "The Stress Doc" ™, is a keynote and
international/Celebrity Cruise Lines motivational speaker, psychotherapist,
syndicated writer, and author of his new book, Practice Safe Stress: Healing
and Laughing in the Face of Stress, Burnout & Depression and The Four
Faces of Anger: Transforming Anger, Conflict and Rage Into Inspiring Attitude
and Behavior. He was the keynote speaker for the Society of Human Resource
Management (SHRM)--Maryland state chapters at their 2004 Leadership Conference.
The Doc, AOL's "Online Psychohumorist," is a training and OD Consultant for
numerous companies, associations and government agencies. Interviewed by the
BBC and Biography magazine, Mark has a multi-award-winning, USA Today Online
www.stressdoc.com . The site was selected as workplace resource in a
National Public Radio feature on "Bad Bosses." For more info, email
firstname.lastname@example.org or call 202-232-8662.
(c) Mark Gorkin 2004
Shrink Rap Productions