Feb 07, No 1, Sec 1
Feb 07 No 1, Sec 2
Mar 07, No 1, Sec 1
Mar07, No 1, Sec 2
May 07, No 1, Sec 1
May 07, No 1, Sec 2
Sep 07, No 1, Sec 1
Sept 07, No 1, Sec 2
Nov 07, Sec 1, Part 1

The Stress Doc Letter
Cybernotes from the Online Psychohumorist ™

MAR 2007, No. I, 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

Shrink Rap:  Kind Words and an Encouraging Exchange

Work Q & A:  When a Boss Enables Tattling on Employees Everyone Suffers

Readers:  One Woman's War (and Moments of Wonderment) with Cancer; Altered State/Creative Process Experience; Supreme Court Give's Gore's Oscar to Bush; 60 Minutes Correspondent Andy Rooney (CBS) on Women Over 40, Airline Cabin Announcement

Testimonials:  Holiday Park Multiservice Senior Center -- Program on Senior Romance

Heads Up:  Federally Emloyed Women/Federal Triange and Patent & Trademark Office Chapters, US Dept. of State/Foreign Service Institute/Careeer Transition Center, Prince Georges County, MD Chamber of Commerce

Section II 

Main Essay:  Avoiding Avoidance:  Tips and Techniques for Confronting Anxiety and Channeling Aggression into Productive Action; Shrink Rap Ditty:  Procrastination...Procrastination

Offerings:  Books

Overview:  Sec. I

1) Shrink RapKind Words and an Encouraging Exchange.

2) Work Q & AWhen a Boss Enables Tattling on Employees Everyone Suffers.  Q.  Our HRIS Manager (female late 30s, very bright) frequently tattles to our overall boss about peers/associates' perceived gaffes.  The boss (VP HR Director) then counsels the employee or has his Assistant do it.  The only employee she does not tattle on is her only subordinate.  Why dos she do this, what do you see as the ramifications, and what might cause her to change her behavior?  She is really wrecking morale, teamwork and communications in our office.

Overview:  Sec. II

1) Main EssayAvoiding Avoidance:  Tips and Techniques for Confronting Anxiety and Channeling Aggression into Productive Action.  Based on recent talks on "Stress and Time Management" the Stress Doc is expanding his understanding of "procrastination," especially the concept of "avoidance."  This essay outlines four avoidance traps and then provides techniques for turning procrastination anxiety and anger into productive action.

2) Shrink Rap DittyProcrastination...Procrastination


Shrink Rap:

Kind Words and an Encouraging Exchange

On Feb. 20, I received an email that simply said:  "I wanna be like you when I grow up!"

And I simply responded, "Why's that? ;-)

And what ensued highlights one impotant reason why I keep throwing words and ideas into cyberspace:

Miss D wrote back:
I would like to professionally shape my corny sense of humor to develop a meaningful approach to educate others and assist with building successful teams!!!
Thanks for the response...and rapid one at that! Totally unexpected!!!  :)

And in a follow-up email, she continued:

Taking advantage of your response, I just want to say one more thing...
I've been looking at your site, your archives, and your works in publications as I attempt to write a book about my experiences in successful team-building for the "Social Sector!" It seems as if every BRILLIANT idea that comes to my mind, has already been discovered and discussed by you!!!
Today, I was thinking of cute little banker terms to use as analogies for investing in employees, and realized that you'd already coined the "IRA" concept. [Editor's Note:  "Incentives, Rewards/Recognition and Advancement Opportunities.]  At that moment, I looked further into your biography and determined, what I said on your site, that, "I wanna be like you when I grow up!"
Of course I'm a young (at least claim to be young) black "girl," and you're a not-so-young...and not-so-black :) male...I truly admire your accomplishments, and look forward to building a distinguished profile such as yours someday!!!

Hello Ms. D.,
Your note definitely brought a smile to my face.
And while our chromosomal makeup may be a bit different, I sense a kindred spirit ready to make her mark on her world.
As I look back (and in some sense I recently did; will send you my FEB07 newsletter.  See the attached Main Essay, Sec. II) here's my recommendation re: your stated goal ("would like to professionally shape my corny sense of humor to develop a meaningful approach to educate others and assist with building successful teams!!!"):
1) whether for a newsletter, your own or someone else's, keep writing.  Writing two-minute "Stress Brake" essays for the radio in N'Awlins in the early-mid '80s definitely helped me discover and develop my "psychohumorist" voice.
2) turn your ideas into material you can present in public, as a teacher, workshop leader, team consultant, conference speaker.  Start anywhere and everywhere and never be too proud to speak for free.  The paid gigs will follow (sometimes slowly, alas).  But you are not doing it for the money.  You are doing #1 and #2 because you cannot follow any other path.  This path is in your psyche and in your genes; it's your genuine and larger "Self," as Carl Jung used the term.
Will place you on my mostly monthly newsletter and send some other start-up stuff.  To blood, sweat, tears and joy!

Work Q & A:

When a Boss Enables Tattling on Employees Everyone Suffers

I wanted to thank you for another insightful look at human behavior.

I read your answer to the question "When a Boss Enables Tattling on Employees Everyone Suffers." You hit it right-on-the-nose about the possible motivation behind both the HRIS Manager and VP's dysfunctional behavior. Morale at places where this happens is low. I know of one person who delighted in this behavior and used it as her source of power in making herself indispensable to the VP. It got out of hand.

One thing to note is that if HR people possess this dysfunctional behavior, they are likely to give bad advice to line-managers dealing with employee relation issues. This [dysfunctional behavior/bad advice] perpetuates throughout an organization and the corporate culture and policies become punishing and oppressive.

Thank you again.  H

Here's the Work Q & A:

When a Boss Enables Tattling on Employees Everyone Suffers
[Written for WorkforceOnline.com]

Q.  Our HRIS Manager (female late 30s, very bright) frequently tattles to our overall boss about peers/associates' perceived gaffes.  The boss (VP HR Director) then counsels the employee or has his Assistant do it.  The only employee she does not tattle on is her only subordinate.  Why dos she do this, what do you see as the ramifications, and what might cause her to change her behavior?  She is really wrecking morale, teamwork and communications in our office.

A.  The scenario seems to come straight out of a family script or elementary school situation.  The HRIS Manager is telling Daddy about how naughty her siblings have been; she comes across as wanting to be "teacher's pet."  Alas, she's more pest than pet.  Even if the HRIS Manager has very high work standards that she feels others are not meeting, the boss is the real problem.

For your first question, why does the HRIS Manager do this, I suspect there are some immature needs for attention and approval, maybe even some sibling rivalry that is being played out.  Unfortunately, the VP HR Director is certainly enabling this "family dysfunction."  Now his motivation is another unanswered question.  One can speculate widely (yet not necessarily wisely) -- from his need to be a father figure, to seeing information as enhancing his sense of power and control, to a possible romantic dalliance.  More tangibly, in addition to a work climate of unfairness and favoritism, this tattling certainly will stir resentment, perhaps evoke some jealousy and as you note will wreck morale, team work and office communications.  Let's concentrate on some specific issues and strategies:

1.  Talk to the Boss. 
Even if you think this will go nowhere, I would at least go on record as registering your concern.  Even better would be having two or three employees confirm and detail the negative impact of the HRIS Manager's behavior.  Come with documentation both of her behavior and observable consequences, e.g., time spent by team members venting at lunch, any verbal blowups or testiness observed, etc.  If the boss claims that he likes having a set of work floor eyes and ears, propose having a team meeting to discuss any concerns about individual or departmental performance or team cooperation.  I suspect that if both the boss and the HRIS Manager knew how to run effective team meetings, much of the problems you report would disappear.  Nonetheless, if he dismisses this suggestion or if he labels your complaints as mere jealousy, then it's time for other intervention options.

2.  Talk to the EAP.
  If the first option isn't successful or doesn't feel safe, and if you have an Employee Assistance Program, make an appointment and share your concerns as noted above.  This professional can speak with the VP if you give the EAP Counselor permission.  Your meeting is held in strict confidence if you prefer.  This counselor may well be able to get your boss' attention.  He or she may be able to facilitate a team meeting (or bring in a conflict mediator) to get the issues on the table.  Finally, the EAP counselor can go over your boss' head and hopefully get someone higher up the authority chain to get your boss' attention.

3.  Talk to a Colleague of Your Boss. 
If you want to try an informal intervention before using the EAP option, try to enlist the support of an executive colleague or friend of your boss.  This person should have your boss' welfare in mind and not be afraid to talk straight with your boss.  Of course, don't trash your boss; mainly express your desire to stop the damage to morale and to rebuild team coordination.


If your boss can see his behavior in a more objective light, and stop encouraging the tattling, then confronting the HRIS Manager's behavior is not a big step.  First the boss needs to talk with the HRIS Manager alone, or perhaps with the EAP counselor as a facilitator.  And a recommendation for EAP counseling for the HRIS Manager may be appropriate.  And depending on how much team damage has been done or how long the dysfunctional operations have been in existence, the facilitator may also want to have brief individual meetings with other team members as part of a venting and debriefing process.  Then there needs to be a group meeting, including the boss, his assistant and HRIS Manager (best held with a trained facilitator), that allows:  a) the group as a whole to vent about the tattling and unfairness issues, b) all parties to express any unfinished emotions in a constructive manner and, then hopefully, c) the healing process, including regular and productive team meetings, to commence.  These meetings need to encourage the open and safe discussion of work problems or interpersonal concerns and to also generate positive problem-solving approaches.

Hopefully these are words and strategies that can rebuild trust and help one and allÖPractice Safe Stress!

Readers Submissions:

One Woman's War (and Moments of Wonderment) with Cancer

Just because you find yourself in a difficult situation, one in which you are really up against it, doesn't mean you're necessarily brave. In fact, you're probably scared to death. Observers often have a tendency to remind you what an inspiration you are and how much courage you have. But, you have no choice, you're in it screaming inside because you hate it, you hate being sick, you hate being here having to fight this endless battle and you have greed for more. Greed for good health, greed for someone to Ďreallyí understand, greed for the past when you were healthy and happy, greed not to see your families/friends sad faces when they see you ill. You try and hide, but there is no place to hide.

Cancer is an awful thing, but it does put you in touch with wonderful people. The receptionist at my Oncologist office is always cheerful; the girls in the chemo room do all they can to make your stay as pleasant as it can be. They hand you a cookie, put your favorite channel on the TV, tell you jokes, talk about their families and try and make you as comfortable as possible. It amazes me how these people can do this job, day in and day out, with their up-lifting smiles and thoughtfulness. This has to be one of the hardest jobs there are.

Today when I went for my radiation treatment I wanted to scream; ďis it all goneĒ? Did you burn/kill it all?? Please tell me something I want to hear! I didnít scream; I smiled, I thanked the technicians. I went home; I pondered, and I wondered, is it gone? And, I prayed for it to be.
copyright, Susan Wells
February 12, 2007

[Regarding the SDNews:  FEB07 "Main Essay" on my Mandala/Altered State/Creative Process experience.]

The article was very moving for me. It was powerful and affirms my understanding of the spiritual, creative process.
What saddens me is that you have not, as far as I've seen, explored it further and have gone off into behavioral and medicated forms of interventions.  For me, that approach  does not met my need for deep spiritual transformation.
On the other side of the stick  I think some of your understanding of anger is extremely important and needs to be made more well known. Here is what I find intellectual satisfying for me:
Injustice. A rule of conduct, a cherished belief or instrumental goal is being threatened or abused; you see yourself (also others with whom you are psychologically dependent or connected) as a victim of an injustice, unfairness or disloyalty.
Injury. You feel disrespected, discarded or ignored; there's a sense of insult and humiliation along with injury -- often psychological, at times also physical.
Invasion. Your freedom, autonomy, boundary and personal space are perceived to be constricted, disrupted or violated; your identity and bodily and/or psychological integrity are being threatened or attacked.
Intention. There is an energy and determination to do something about the above injustices, injuries and invasions; you are ready - reflexively and/or purposefully - to challenge the status quo.

There is also "organic rage" which is spontaneous and of short duration to prevent injury to life.
Thanks for your generosity in providing so much of your material at no cost. It meets my need for cost-effective learning as I am a senior citizen living on a limited budget.  I teach "Anger Transformation', my own synthesis, at the local county jails here in upstate  New York.
Good luck in you future efforts

Thanks Mark,
What a ride! Thanks for sharing that, I could relate to a lot of it. The closest Iíve had to your description of the mandala experience was a sense of the connection of all things descending on me as I was reading one of the Upanishads at an Ashram north of Sydney (from the fullness take away the fullness, the fullness remains). I canít quite describe it, but it was much more a full sensation than an intellectual insight. Since than Iíve been more able to move between the contradictions in my life with a little more calmness and a sense than seemingly distant things are connected and that there is some kind of a structure emerging. Last year towards Christmas I couldnít stop crying for a week (or a least it seemed that way). The psychologist I was seeing at the time was fairly dismissive about my attempts at building a research career in education, having failed to find a teaching job. Anyway, Iím starting back at uni this week studying Chinese, autism and theology, as well as trying to recover my health. It seems like a disparate collection of interests, but to me the fundamental connection is to do with how the mind processes learning and experience, dare I say it even spiritual experience. Crossing the boundaries between these different areas is taking me into a completely different relationship to the wall I keep hitting, which comes back to the division of mind and matter in Western thought. My commitment this year is to do this in a way which gives me freedom of movement and rest, and hopefully some kind of balance with family life, which is almost unbearably difficult at this point. No wonder the psychologist couldnít keep up.

Iíve also decided to give myself a year to explore the question of anti-depressants with my doctor. Iíve seen my brother become increasingly distant and disconnected over the last three years under psychiatric care for depression. Itís my belief that our tendency towards depression is due to unresolved grief over our parentsí deaths because of the culture of denial around death within both my parentsí families. If there is a genetic reality to this as well I may be convinced to try anti-depressants at some point. At the moment Iím going to throw this question out to the universe and give myself some time for the lifestyle changes to have some effect. I may get back to you on this later in the year as you seem pretty knowledgeable on this score.
Thanks again, I donít get to put this all together very often; itís a joy talking to you,
Cheers, Carolyn

P.S. I havenít had much success with Western medicine, but my experience with my shiatsu practitioner is exactly what you were talking about with finding a combination of the analyst couch and the massage table, so I guess Iíve been pretty lucky there.

Subj:  Supreme Court Give's Gore's Oscar to Bush
Stunning Reversal for Former Veep
From:  Pcorell@hopsteiner.com

Just days after former Vice President Al Gore received an Academy Award for his global warming documentary "An Inconvenient Truth," the United States Supreme Court handed Mr. Gore a stunning reversal, stripping him of his Oscar and awarding it to President George W. Bush instead.

For Mr. Gore, who basked in the adulation of his Hollywood audience Sunday night, the high court's decision to give his Oscar to President Bush was a cruel twist of fate, to say the least.

But in a 5-4 decision handed down Tuesday morning, the justices made it clear that they had taken the unprecedented step of stripping Mr. Gore of his Oscar because President Bush deserved it more.

"It is true that Al Gore has done a lot of talking about global warming," wrote Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority. "But President Bush has actually helped create global warming."

In another setback for the former vice president, a group of scientists meeting in Oslo, Norway today said that Mr. Gore was growing at an unsustainable rate.

and in other news ... 

In Florida, while walking to attend a news conference, Kathleen Harris tripped, fell, and broke her hair.

"The polar ice caps may be shrinking, but Al Gore is clearly expanding," said Dr. Hiroshi Kyosuke of the University of Tokyo. The scientists concluded that if Mr. Gore continues to expand at his current rate, he could cause the earth to spin off its axis by 2010, sending it hurtling into the sun. "Here's an inconvenient truth," Dr. Kyosuke added. "Al's got to stay away from those carbs."

Elsewhere, after foreigners received a record number of Academy Award nominations, CNN anchor Lou Dobbs proposed building a 12-foot high fence around the Kodak Theater.

Subj:  60 Minutes Correspondent Andy Rooney (CBS) on Women Over 40
From:  im842@sbcglobal.net

As I grow in age, I value women over 40 most of all. Here are just a few reasons why:

A woman over 40 will never wake you in the middle of the night and ask, "What are you thinking?" She doesn't care what you think. If a woman over 40 doesn't want to watch the game, she doesn't sit around whining about it. She does something she wants to do, and it's usually more interesting. Women over 40 are dignified. They seldom have a screaming match with you at the opera or in the middle of an expensive restaurant. Of course, if you deserve it, they won't hesitate to shoot you if they think they can get away with it. Older women are generous with praise, often undeserved. They know what it's like to be unappreciated. Women get psychic as they age. You never have to confess your sins to a woman over 40. Once you get past a wrinkle or two, a woman over 40 is far sexier than her younger counterpart. Older women are forthright and honest. They'll tell you right off if you are a jerk if you are acting like one You don't ever have to wonder where you stand with her. Yes, we praise women over 40 for a multitude of reasons. Unfortunately, it's not reciprocal. For every stunning, smart, well-coiffed, hot woman over 40, there is a bald, paunchy relic in yellow pants making a fool of himself with some 22-year old waitress. Ladies, I apologize. For all those men who say, "Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?", here's an update for you. Nowadays 80% of women are against marriage. Why? Because women realize it's not worth buying an entire pig just to get a little sausage!

Andy Rooney is a really smart guy!

Subj:  Airline Cabin Announcement
From:  MDodick

A plane was taking off from Kennedy Airport . After it reached a comfortable cruising altitude, the captain made an announcement over the intercom, "Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. Welcome to Flight Number 293, nonstop from New York to Los Angeles . The weather ahead is good and, therefore, we should have a smooth and uneventful flight. Now sit back and relax... OH, MY GOD!" Silence followed, and after a few minutes, the captain came back on the intercom and said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, I am so sorry if I scared you earlier. While I was talking to you, the flight attendant accidentally spilled a cup of hot coffee in my lap. You should see the front of my pants!" A passenger in Coach yelled, "That's nothing You should see the back of mine


Holiday Park Multiservice Senior Center
[Program on Senior Romance; 40 attendees]

Subject: From Holiday Park!
Date: 2/28/2007
From: Betsy.Graft@montgomerycountymd.gov

Hey Mark :)
  WOW!  That was wild the other day!  You certainly had everyone talking -- to each other, to you and even to themselves I think -- and it was so nice to see and hear the communication between all of our seniors and their great interaction with you.  I think some very valuable information and insights were brought up during this program -- didn't you?

Mark, it is always so wonderful having you at Holiday Park.  The level of enthusiasm in our center is raised to such a high level and it's so much fun to be part of it.  Once again, I wish to thank you on behalf of everyone here, for being such a positive influence and spending time with us.  It's also nice to know there's plenty to look forward to even after the next ten years pass!!

I look forward to seeing you again for future programs.  Thanks again and take care!

Betsy Graft
Program Assistant

Heads Up:
Programs in Feb and Mar 2007; Testimonials upon request

1.  Practice Safe Stress Workshop for Federally Employed Women/Federal Triangle Chapter; 1-hour
2.  Practice Safe Stress in Times of (Career) Change Workshop, US State Dept./Foreign Service Institute/Career Transition Center; 1.5 hours
3.  Practice Safe Stress Workshop for Federally Employed Women/Patent & Trademark Office; 45 minutes
4.  Money & Stress Workshop, Prince Georges, County MD Chamber of Commerce; 1-hour

Mark Gorkin, LICSW, "The Stress Doc" ô, 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" ô running his weekly "Shrink Rap ô 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 ô -- 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, call or email the "Stress Doc":  301-946-0865 or stressdoc@aol.com .  And to view web video highlights of a Stress Doc Keynote, go to http://www.stressdoc.com/media_downloads.htm .

(c)  Mark Gorkin  2007

Shrink Rap Productions