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How to manage stress, change and anger Personnel Department Medical Services Division: Psychology Section 213/473-6958 Dealing With Uncertainty.

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Presentation on theme: "How to manage stress, change and anger Personnel Department Medical Services Division: Psychology Section 213/473-6958 Dealing With Uncertainty."— Presentation transcript:

1 How to manage stress, change and anger Personnel Department Medical Services Division: Psychology Section 213/473-6958 Dealing With Uncertainty

2  Uncertainty about the budget  Lack of consensus on a plan (Mayor, City Council, City Depts, Public Safety, Unions)  Layoffs—how many, who, when  ERIPs—how many, who, when  Furloughs – how many hours/days; money lost  What our tasks will be if we remain employed  What our Depts will look like through and after the transitions

3 Stressors in Times of Uncertainty  Receiving information that  Comes too slowly  Is incomplete  Is inaccurate  Is unpredictable (organic; erratic)  Is sensitive or confidential

4 Stressors in Times of Uncertainty  Downsizing or layoff stress differs from other types of workplace stress..  You can’t change your work performance to stop it  Beyond immediate control of Management  Affects wider percentage of the workforce  Can be long-lasting and may reoccur  Invades the home/everyone asks about it

5  Stressor ◦ Fear of losing our job and/or ◦ Ability to care for ourselves  Which can lead to ◦ Lack of trust in management ◦ Lack of trust in co-workers ◦ Lack of respect for boss and/or City

6 Uncertainty is more stressful than hearing bad news


8  People thrive on predictability and control.  W e are built to resist change.  We have scripts we live by.

9 We look for answers— Wherever we can find them

10 Dealing with Uncertainty We may precipitate an “ending” to stop the uncertainty Or refuse to think about it at all


12 It feels like an emotional roller coaster

13  Trouble concentrating on the job ◦ More inward focus leads to more errors and accidents  Wasted time/decreased productivity ◦ Lack of energy/motivation ◦ Distractibility ◦ Higher absenteeism  Delayed decisions ◦ Resistance against management decisions ◦ Pessimism Common Reactions

14  Worry/anxiety  Withdrawal/sense of loneliness  Increase in substance use  Can lead to family problems/health problems Increased stress impacts mood, sleep, physical health, behavior Common Reactions

15 Common Reaction--Grief Change =Loss = Grief  Grieving process begins with threat of loss  Loss can lead to sadness/depression  Failure to acknowledge and prepare for grief can result in morale and productivity problems

16 Loss (for some) of…  Predictability  Trust  Wages and benefits  Role as worker and provider  Control over one’s life  Structure of daily life  The work family Common Reaction--Grief

17 Anger is an emotion that often propels us to move toward the source  Perceived unfairness  Inability to reach our goals  Reaction to THREAT  Perceived lack of caring or thoughtfulness  Shame/sense of failure/guilt Common Reaction--Anger

18  Irritability  Negative attitude toward work  Potential for aggression, sabotage  For those not laid off--anger/resentment about redistribution of labor Common Reaction--Anger

19 Don’t Be Mad at ME Responding to Anger

20  You behave the way you do because of who you are.  I behave the way I do because the situation makes me.

21 Angry people want two things…  They want to BE HEARD ◦ They want you to LISTEN TO THEM ◦ They want acknowledgement ◦ They want reassurance ◦ They want you to take them seriously

22  They want you to FIX THE PROBLEM ◦ They want financial security ◦ They want the job to get done ◦ They want you to do what they want, when they want it

23 Responding to Anger  Ask the purpose of their call or visit  Always introduce yourself and your role  Establish rapport  Acknowledge the difficult times  Ask diversionary questions  Try to give choices  Ask how they’ve dealt with similar situations in the past  Provide City resources

24 FIRST acknowledge the feelings and upset of the other person. o Once the person starts to calm down, THEN move to solving the problem Responding to Anger

25 Always listen before providing any kind of answer. ◦ Ask questions to gain greater clarification. ◦ Restate their problem to them. ◦ Find an area of agreement and tell them they are right. Under stress we don’t listen well

26 Take it seriously, but don’t take it personally  Others will likely focus their frustration at you.  You might feel personally attacked.  You might want to defend yourself.  Don’t defend yourself by attacking back Responding to Anger

27 What seems like a call to fight is often a plea for assistance. Under the Anger are Fear and Hurt

28  Angry people may get “in your face”  They want you to be “on their side”  Find a way to “join” with them ◦ Empathize, agree or pretend you do  Once you are side-by-side, you can work together

29 Emotions can be contagious  Hostility often begets more hostility  Empathize, but don’t join in  Diffuse the emotion by remaining calm and reasonable  Be patient Responding to Anger

30  Don’t shame or blame  Avoid accusations  Ask, don’t demand  Don’t interrupt Responding to Anger

31  Keep your body language relaxed  Use the angry person’s name  Find a way to say, “You’re Right” Get the person to articulate what problem resolution would look like in this specific case. Be Affirming and Positive

32  Occurs about five minutes after the person has gotten mad.  People cling to the resentment.  A few minutes after you think it’s over, their anger might return.  Expect this and stay calm.  The second snap is about them having the final say.  Don’t feed or fuel it. Expect a five minute anger snap

33 When Should I Panic?

34  Most Anger Does Not Lead to Physical Aggression.  However, be alert to… ◦ Immediate threat of physical harm ◦ Endangering of lives ◦ Weapons ◦ Someone making a direct threat ◦ Someone expressing suicidal or homicidal feelings Anger and Aggression

35 Press the Panic Button…If it’s potentially life threatening, or if you’re in doubt panic

36  Allow angry people to physically escape the situation.  Don’t block their way or prevent exit, or you may be putting yourself in a dangerous situation.  Take off the heat rather than increasing the pressure!  Don’t insist on solving the problem “now” when the other person is in an agitated state.


38 Retirement Even though a choice, person may not really be ready for retirement. May have lived to work instead of worked to live.

39 Retirement  Loss of predictability  Loss of role as worker and provider  Loss of structure of daily life  Loss of the work family  Difficulty knowing what to say to those who are being laid off when retirees had a choice  People “disappear”—here one day, gone the next

40 Retirement  As people retire, they often take with them the history of the Dept. and the accumulated knowledge/culture.  Others are often left to perform their tasks without necessary training or mentoring.  Many of the experienced staff who retire were the mentors--the ones others went to for advice or guidance.


42 We cannot always control what comes our way. We can only control how we respond to it.

43 Practice Patience One moment of patience may ward off a great disaster. One moment of impatience may ruin a whole life.

44 Responding to a Layoff--Behaviors  Normalize/maintain structure ◦ Focus on what you can control ◦ Create a schedule and stick to it ◦ Compartmentalize job search--balance ◦ Exercise, eat sensibly, focus on remaining healthy ◦ Take time in making big decisions ◦ Monitor distractibility (driving, forms, etc.)


46 Responding to a Layoff--Emotions  Don’t give into negative emotions ◦ Be aware of your emotions and label them ◦ Channel anger into positive action  Update resume, job search plan, job assistance resources ◦ Don’t blame yourself—many are sharing this crisis with you  Take care of heart, head and soul

47  Share with family ◦ Family picks up on mood. ◦ Keep your emotional center. ◦ Be prepared for changing roles in family. ◦ Talk to your children; involve them appropriately.  Reach out to others ◦ Make a list of people who can be supportive. ◦ Don’t be embarrassed to talk about the situation. ◦ Don’t be afraid to “not” talk about it. Responding to a Layoff-- Interpersonal

48 Responding to a Layoff--Finances  Start getting rid of debt  Simplify  Start saving money for lean times—emergency funds  Find value in activities that don’t cost money Cutting back in spending enables people to rediscover the value in other things


50 Strategies  Identify what you can and cannot control  Don’t be surprised if you feel unmotivated and unhappy  Manage your emotions ◦ Don’t let anger, resentment, anxiety reduce productivity or justify poor service ◦ Keep to your routines ◦ Be considerate of each other

51 Strategies  Encourage collaboration ◦ Assist each other in your changing work roles ◦ Be willing to give suggestions ◦ Recognize the complexities of management decisions  If possible, start new projects ◦ People are often energized by new ideas and fresh starts


53 We are in this together Finding an Up in Upheaval

54  Defining moment for You ◦ “Why me?” becomes “Why not me?” ◦ You may feel more productive, efficient, and energized by the current crisis. ◦ You may not like the job you are assigned, but it may teach you marketable skills. ◦ You might choose to take this opportunity to pursue a new endeavor, a dream, a passion.

55 Finding an Up in Upheaval When one door closes, another opens. But we often look so regretfully upon the closed door that we don’t see the one that has opened for us. Alexander Graham Bell

56 Finding an Up in Upheaval Keep your sense of humor

57 Words of Wisdom  The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. Martin Luther King Jr.  You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf. Swami Satchidananda  A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others throw at him. David Brinkley

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