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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

Section I

Work Q & A:
   Rudeness and Unfairness in the Workplace
  Booz Allen Hamilton, GROWS

         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

Section II 

Main Essay:
     Six Keys to Building Consensus:  Skills, Steps and Strategies
       Phone Consultation/Coaching, Training/Marketing Kit and Books

Overview:  Sec. I

1) Work Q & ARudeness and Unfairness in the Workplace
A 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 on.

Overview:  Sec. II

1)  Main EssaySix 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 past the
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 send me. 



Hi Tara,

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.


Hi Mark,

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!



Two Testimonials

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
McLean, VA


[Grass Roots Organization for the Well-being of Seniors]

May 5, 2006

Dear Mark,

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.]

Readers Submissions

Subj:  The State of New Orleans

From:  Maceda@aol.com

I 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 everyone.



Subj:  All truisms
From:  Out4thenite

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 true.

There will always be death and taxes; however, death doesn't get worse every year.

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 questions.

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
From:  sue123@twmi.rr.com

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

From:  MDodick@aol.com

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
From:  Pcorell@hopsteiner.com

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 down!"

Heads Up:

Recent Programs [testimonials upon request]

1. VA Juvenile Justice Assn; half-day Stress, Conflict & Team-Building Keynote; VA Beach
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 County, MD

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  2006

Shrink Rap Productions