How Busy Colleagues Spread Their Stress

Those super-busy folks in the office – the ones who never say no to another project, walk fast, arrive late to meetings and seem to spend all their time on their phone and email — can be a big source of your stress.

They can fill co-workers with feelings of anxiety (“maybe I should be doing that, too”) or inferiority (“maybe my stuff isn’t as important as his”) or avoidance (“maybe he’ll be irritable if I interrupt,”) according to The Wall Street Journal.

High Energy Stressful OfficeOpen-plan offices can contribute to the problem. “No one wants to be seen as the slowest moving object in the solar system. You have to keep up with the Joneses — literally,” said Ben Jacobson, co-founder of Conifer Research in Chicago. Indeed, blurred human figures in drawings of planned offices have become a new trend. They’re meant to appeal to companies that aspire to be high-energy workplaces.

One Person Can Infect the Whole Team

“If you have one person rushing into meetings at the last minute and tapping a pencil through the entire session, it changes the cadence for the entire group,” observed William Arruda, a New York City personal-branding consultant.

To stem the spread of stress, Robert S. Rubin, an associate professor of management at DePaul University in Chicago, advises managers to hold “inoculation discussions,” to help workers avoid feeling that they have to be rushing around to be seen as a strong performer.

Those who rush around aren’t necessarily the most competent or productive, experts say.

“Executives who have figured it out … are poised and strategic,” according to Susan Hodgkinson, a principal with the Personal Brand Co., a Boston-based leadership-development and executive-coaching firm. “That’s a big difference from reacting all day” to others’ demands.

One Response to “How Busy Colleagues Spread Their Stress”

  1. Colleagues do delegate IT project work efforts sometimes to reduce stress. It’s ok.
    The one’s I knew would also be trading stocks and running real estate businesses
    on office PC’s, phones and fax machines. Among other things.