Upfront: Bring on the madness

By Steve Noe

March is well known to many Americans for its madness when it comes to college basketball with its buzzer beaters and bracket busters. However, it is also known by many of you for the madness that ensues when your customers start coming out of hibernation and turn to you for all of their immediate outdoor power equipment needs.

To help you survive March, here is some excellent advice from a monster.com article titled “Seven Tips to Stay Sane at Work” by Megan Malugani:

  1. Stay calm.
    The average person faces approximately 30 frustrations (or mini crises) every day, with a high percentage of those frustrations occurring at work, according to Anna Maravelas, a St. Paul, Minn.-based licensed psychologist and author of How to Reduce Workplace Conflict and Stress. And losing your temper will hurt more than help you. Maravelas said the cortisone, adrenaline and other chemicals released when you lose your cool will linger for at least two hours after your outburst.
  2. Have some empathy.
    Keep in mind that those 30 daily frustrations that happen to you also happen to everyone you encounter, including your coworkers and customers. With so many stressors in today’s world, Maravelas suggested cutting people some slack and assume there is a good reason they’re having a bad day. She said that showing empathy creates “positive reciprocity,” which they will graciously remember for you giving them the benefit of the doubt and pay you back someday when the roles are reversed.
  3. Tune out.
    Another coping mechanism is to tune others out. “Close your door if you have a door, or close your mind if you have a mind,” said Simma Lieberman, an Albany, Calif.-based organizational development consultant.
  4. Perfect the art of the blow off.
    Don’t get dragged into conversations with irritating coworkers. If someone purposely tries to get a rise out of you, Lieberman offered a few good comebacks, including “Wow, really. I’ve got to get back to work. See you later,” and “Wow, interesting, but I’ve got to go.” And if they persist to pester you, Lieberman said walk away or — better yet — ask them to do a favor for you. “They’ll run away,” she said.
  5. Break the bad mood cycle.
    While good moods at work can be contagious, so can bad ones, according to Long Island-based Debbie Mandel, author of Addicted to Stress, as well as a radio host and stress-management expert. If a coworker is in a bad mood, don’t let it rub off on you. To break the negative energy, Mandel said physically move away from that person or get immersed in work.
  6. Look for humor.
    Mandel believes humor can relieve stress at work. “Don’t take yourself and everyone else so seriously,” she said. “Pretend it’s a sitcom. If it happens to someone else on TV, we’re laughing, but when it happens to us, we take everything so seriously.”
  7. Close the door at the end of the day.
    Don’t bring unresolved work issues home with you. “If you go home with stuff left unresolved, it’s hard to feel sane,” Lieberman said. “On your way home, visualize the door to your workplace closed, and start thinking about what you’re looking forward to at home.”

I hope you find this advice helpful, and I wish you the best of luck this spring!

OPE Senior Editor Steve Noe