The Stress Doc Letter
Cybernotes from the Online Psychohumorist
MAY 2006, 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:
Rudeness and Unfairness in the Workplace
Testimonials: Booz Allen Hamilton, GROWS
Readers: The State of New Orleans, All Truisms, ADULT-Modern Version
of the Birds & Bees, The Silent Treatment, The Post Turtle
Heads Up: VA Juvenile Justice Assn, Estrin Paralegal, Dept. of
Homeland Security, TOC Institute, GROWS
Main Essay: Six Keys to Building Consensus: Skills, Steps and
Offerings: Phone Consultation/Coaching, Training/Marketing Kit and
Overview: Sec. I
1) Work Q & A: Rudeness and Unfairness in the Workplace.
reader sounds off on the "unfairness" of obnoxious, rude, abusive and harassing
people in places of power. And the doc while empathizing with her plaint,
provides some TLC -- "Tough Loving Care" -- strategies for moving up or moving
Overview: Sec. II
1) Main Essay: Six Keys to Building Consensus: Skills, Steps and
Strategies. This essay examines the concept of "consensus" and discovers a
major gap between operational means and definitional ends. Oftentimes, many
battles must be fought before diverse parties will come to the table and
negotiate honestly and earnestly. Toward this end, the Stress Doc enumerates
key skills, steps and strategies for building genuine consensus.
[Due to its length, the complete essay is an attachment.]
Work Stress Q & A
Rudeness and Unfairness in the Workplace
Thanks, Mark. I appreciate the links and other helpful tips and information.
I've been pouring over past letters people have written along the similar
subject, and your answers. One thing that lingeringly bothers me is the
"unfairness" of obnoxious, rude, abusive and harassing people in places of
power. The person I work with is only a salesperson, but this places her in a
sort of "power", because companies don't want to fire salespeople. They'll bend
over backward to put up with them. Why do companies sacrifice good, hardworking
and KIND employees for the sake of one salesperson? There are thousands of
salespeople out there...kick out the toxic one and hire a new one! I just don't
get that mentality. I don't think anyone should ever have to "put up with" or
"find a new job" -- that's a terrible attitude to take toward a company's
supposedly-best attributes, its employees. Perhaps my way of thinking is just
really outdated and backward, who knows. At any rate, I just can't seem to get
unfairness of the whole situation.
Do you have any good recommendations for assertiveness groups, or support groups
for nice people who tend to get walked all over by abusive people?
Thanks for your time. I really appreciate whatever tips/links/leads you can
Thanks for the prompt and responsive feedback. (Normally, I don't respond to
email in the middle of the night, but I have an early plane to catch.) The most
frequent lament I hear in all kinds of interpersonal conflict situations is,
"Why should I be the one who has to leave, when the problem is due to the other
jerk or due to (incompetent) management tolerating the other jerk." And there's
no justification or explanation other than that dysfunctional or individuals
and systems, by definition, are into denial and also accept or encourage abuse
(e.g., think Abhu Ghirab), and often don't have the means or motivation to end
the dysfunction until a crisis point, when an outside authority (hopefully more
objective and effective) gets involved.
Unfortunately, work environments tolerate trashy behavior from people who they
believe will hit home runs or score touchdowns. For example, take football
star, Terrell Owens, and how he destroyed the morale and success of he
Philadelphia Eagles last year. Management waited too long to remove him.
Your way of thinking is not outdated, it just takes work to find a basically
healthy organizational system. It's also why increasing numbers of people opt
for self-employment or doing consulting work. It often takes trial and error to
find a good enough work environment.
Try the 12-step group Codependents Anonymous or Al-Anon. Call your local AA
Chapter. And you don't have to have a drinking problem to attend. Relationship
or assertiveness issues fit right in.
Also, call your local chapter of the Natl. Assn of Social Workers (NASW); there's
likely one in Seattle and/or Tacoma. Someone might be able to recommend
a therapist leading an appropriate support group. Also, there may be
Women's Centers providing similar resources.
Don't stay in an abusive system to the point of undermining your
health, confidence and self-worth. Some people have the resources to take
legal action. Most don't. To hard work and good support.
Thank you for your response -- you've been incredibly helpful. I was laid off
today, and while I'm completely RELIEVED to be away from that place and all the
stress (which unfortunately did cost me much in the way of health issues), the
one thing that still lingers is the unfairness of it all. I will try the
sources you listed below -- thank you very much!
Have a safe flight, and thank you again for your timely responses and the
feeling of validation I received from reading your email!
Booz Allen Hamilton
April 13, 2006
Dear Mr. Gorkin,
On behalf of my Booz Allen colleagues, I would like to thank you for your superb
workshop on 'Practicing Safe Stress.' Booz Allen can be a professional
'pressure-cooker,' and your humorous approach to stress reduction techniques
certainly resonated with the audience. We greatly appreciated your keen
insights on burnout, managing anger, and resolving conflict creatively. I was
personally amazed at the participant response to your interactive exercise --
never had I imagined so many original (and artistic) representations of
workplace stress and the strategies for overcoming stress. As you note, humor
is a vital antidote to workplace frustrations, and your training provided the
perfect mix of sage advice and incisive wit.
Keep up the Stress Doc's crusade!
Robert Rudney, Ph.D.
Booz Allen Hamilton
[Grass Roots Organization for the Well-being of Seniors]
May 5, 2006
Your "Practice Safe Stress" program for GROWS' monthly meeting was a huge
success. People loved it. I loved it! Your energy, enthusiasm and humor were
infectious. You provided solid information, but also created fun, engaging
exercises that everyone enjoyed. Perhaps most importantly, you created an
atmosphere that encouraged safe sharing and connection. The energy and laughter
in the room, both for the power struggle exercise and especially for the stress
& conflict team drawing exercise, were wonderful to see. As I handed out
markers to all the groups, I was struck by the excitement and sheer enjoyment in
the room. That delight continued as people walked around the room, viewing the
other groups' pictures. The exercise was fun, but it also gave everyone an
opportunity to work as a team, be creative, and feel a real sense of community.
You had rapt attention throughout your presentation. Unfortunately, the time
flew by, leaving many people with the feeing that the program was far too
short. Frankly, it was one of the best presentations I've experienced in years.
As we have discussed, in the not too distant future I look forward to GROWS and
the Stress Doc formally collaborating to provide what I know will be equally
engaging, longer, educational seminars for professionals and organizations in
the senior health community. You are a delight to work with and I sincerely look
forward to working with you again in the future.
Phyllis Elperin, Executive Director
Grass Roots Organization for the Well-being of Seniors (GROWS)
[There were around 100 attendees.]
The State of New Orleans
just got back from New Orleans last night, about 12:30. The triip was
phenominal! I participated in the 3 mile March across the Gretna Bridge with
5000 folks calling for voters rights for displaced residents. And the amazing
thing I observed was that the rally reunited people who had been separated by
the flood. People were hugging and greeting each other with phrases like "My
God, it's so good to se you again. Are you back?" or "Where are you now? "
THe next day, my daughter, her friend and I did volunteer work with Common
Ground. They are at Congress and Miro, in a flooded out school called St Mary's
in the Upper 9th Ward. We did kitchen work, scrubbed floors and bailed water.
The kids were shell shocked, because of how basic and make shift everything was
-outdoor propane kitchen, makeshift showers, no lights--really it was like a
campsite. And the flies were out of control. But they adjusted and worked
hard. The volunteers at Common Ground give of themselves until it hurts, and
they solve problems as they arise. I LOVED being there! And being able to
contribute just for a day was such a tremendous blessing. Of course I want to
go back. Sunday, we also went to Our Lady Star of the Sea for Mass and it was
wonderful. The people treated us like they knew us and gave us a ride back. I
saw some reuniions there too! People from other places have to be there and be
in the mix, just to see for themselves what the flood, the diaspora and the
struggle to return and rebuild is really all about. And other than from Acorn
and Common ground, the average person is getting no support to save their
houses. They are being served up to the speculators. It is a sin and a crime
what is happening. Go to those websites. Read, then send a donation. Then go
to New Orleans.
Peace and blessings, and thanks for the support and prayers I received from
Subj: All truisms
Love is grand; divorce is a hundred grand.
Time may be a great healer, but it's a lousy beautician.
Conscience is what hurts when everything else feels good.
Talk is cheap because supply exceeds demand.
Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.
Politicians and diapers have one thing in common. They should both be changed
regularly and for the same reason.
An optimist thinks this is the best possible world. A pessimist fears this is
There will always be death and taxes; however, death doesn't get worse every
In just two days, tomorrow will be yesterday.
I am a nutritional overachiever.
I plan on living forever. So far, so good.
Practice safe eating -- always use condiments.
A day without sunshine is like night.
It's frustrating when you know all the answers, but nobody bothers to ask you
The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right
time, but also to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.
Brain cells come and brain cells go, but fat cells live forever.
Age doesn't always bring wisdom. Sometimes it comes alone.
Life not only begins at forty, it also begins to show.
Subj: ADULT-Modern Version of the Birds & Bees
A little boy goes to his father and asks "Daddy, how was I born?" The father
answers: "Well son, I guess one day you were going to find out anyway! "Your
Mom and I first got together in a chat room on Yahoo. Then I set up a date via
e-mail and we met at a cyber-cafe. We sneaked into a secluded room, where your
mother agreed to a download from my hard drive. As soon as I was ready to
upload, we discovered that neither one of us had used a firewall. Since it was
too late to hit the delete button, a little Pop-Up appeared nine months later
that said: You got Male.
Subj: The Silent Treatment
A man and his wife were having some problems at home and were giving each other
the silent treatment. Suddenly, the man realized that the next day, he would
need his wife to wake him at 5:00 AM for an early morning business flight.
Not wanting to be the first to break the silence (and LOSE), he wrote on a piece
of paper, "Please wake me at 5:00 AM."
He left it where he knew she would find it. The next morning, the man woke up,
only to discover it was 9:00 AM and he had missed his flight. Furious, he was
about to go and see why his wife hadn't wakened him, when he noticed a piece of
paper by the bed.
The paper said, "It is 5:00 AM. Wake up."
Subject: The Post Turtle
While suturing a cut on the hand of a 75-year old Texas rancher, whose hand was
caught in a gate while working cattle, the doctor struck up a conversation with
the old man. Eventually the topic got around to former Texas Governor George W.
Bush, and his elevation to the White House.
The old Texan said, "Well, ya know, Bush is a 'post turtle'." Not being familiar
with the term, the doctor asked him what a 'post turtle' was.
The old rancher said, "When you're driving down a country road and you come
across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, that's a post turtle."
The old man saw a puzzled look on the doctor's face, so he continued to explain,
"You know he didn't get there by himself, he doesn't belong there, he doesn't
know what to do while he's up there, and you just want to help the dumb .... get
Recent Programs [testimonials upon request]
1. VA Juvenile Justice Assn; half-day Stress, Conflict & Team-Building Keynote;
2. Estrin Paralegal SuperConference; Kickoff; Orlando, FL
3. Dept. of Homeland Security; Stress, Conflict & Team-Building Workshop;
half-day, Wash, DC
4. Training Officers Conference Institute; Stress, Conflict & Team-Building in
Times of Change breakout; VA Beach,
5. GROWS; Practice Safe Stress; featured speaker for monthly meeting; Montgomery
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 2006
Shrink Rap Productions