Most employees overestimate how productive they need to be at work. I am going to show you why your expectations are too high and how to set boundaries and be happier and more confident in yourself at work. First, I want to make you aware of the three myths people have about work and their own work.
First, let's talk about myth number one. I want to start off by saying that I have not seen evidence to support that people who stress more are more likely to get promoted than people who have a more relaxed or balanced attitude to work.
No, what I have seen instead is that, on average, people who hold entry level positions tend to be a lot more stressed than people who hold high level positions at their workplace. That means, your basic customer service agent, retail worker or burger flipper is on average more stressed than your average manager or operational analyst or account manager.
Like this article? Check out my "What You Should Start Saying No To, Based On Your Personality Type"
There are obvious explanations here: the nature of this work is more stressful, people on low level positions tend to feel more expendable, and you feel a high pressure from your manager to be more flexible. People who get promoted to higher level positions tend to be compensated by higher benefits, a liveable salary, more vacation days, and better working hours.
While competition is higher for lower level jobs than high end jobs, you should not underestimate yourself or your own worth to a workplace. You are not as expendable as you think you are and even the smallest gear serves a purpose in a complex machine.
Your employer has invested time and energy into training, coaching and making you perform well in the role, and they will be wary to replace you unless you vastly underperform. What I have seen in my years at work in a customer service environment is that it was very rare that people actually got fired.
Still, most employees would be wary to say no to their manager even to the most inconvenient requests. There was an eagerness from the employee to say yes or to try to please their superiors. There was a fear that if I express boundaries at work, my boss will use that against me in my performance talks. In truth, it is more likely that your boss would respect you for it. I will talk about how you can say no to your boss later in the article.
Finally, let's talk about your value at your workplace. There is a misconception that those at work that are more stressed are more productive or bring more value to a company than those that are less stressed. What I have seen is that this can be true short term, but that it is simply wrong when you look at it over time. People who stress more at work tend to be more temperamental, cause more conflict, and are less collaborative than people who take a more relaxed approach.
I have found that high-stress workers tend to work more alone and struggle to fit in the team. They tend to take a more antagonistic view towards their coworkers and even their managers and feel more negative about work. Over time, this leads to the high stress workers having a higher bounce-rate. Their career at work tends to be short lived and if they are not promoted quickly, they tend to become very dissatisfied by their work very quickly.
High stress workers often feel that they are not treated fairly and expect more benefits than their peers. As a manager, it can be a healthy exercise to recognise the warning signs and noticing when someone is outperforming their peers at work and understanding that this high productivity comes at a cost for the employee and the organisation. Similarly, understand that average performers that take a more relaxed approach to work often tend to have a higher quality of work. They get along better with customers, spread a more positive atmosphere, and are more collaborative. This can bring more value to your company than the high-stress lone-wolfs at your workplace.
Pay attention to the physical and emotional aspects of stress in yourself and your own body language. Notice fidgety body language, restlessness, twitching eyes, and tenseness in your hands or body language. Stress is both physical and emotional and you can feel it as an increased heart rate, sweatiness, a fast paced way of talking.
Stress has not only positive effects, but also more negative. They may make you perceive conversations as more hostile. Stress may make you talk in a more direct and confrontational manner. It can cause you to appear more nervous or less confident in yourself. Which also makes your manager or superiors less likely to listen to your feedback.
Don't be afraid to try meditation, stress-relief hacks, breathing exercises, music and breaks as a way to unwind and relieve stress. Physical exercise can also help. Make a conscious effort to take breaks and to ask for time to unwind. Try to compartmentalize and think less about your work and to put aside your worries for a bit and play a game or go for a walk. Call your parents or a friend you haven't spoken to in a while and see if you can get some perspective.
What are your tips to reduce stress at work?
Check out "How To Be Happy Through Gratitude"