Working With and Managing Other’s Stress During The Holidays

By on December 21, 2011

By Pamela Cournoyer –


Stress responses in others are predictable and can be managed without causing more stress for you. This is especially true during a typically “over the top” time of year for those in the workplace who tend to extend themselves even more.

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I’m sure you hear it all the time: a coworker stops by your office to tell you about the latest gossip; “Jerry was demanding again to Sally Jo, she is now in her office in tears”. “Why can’t he see what he is doing to her?” And, “why doesn’t Sally Jo stand up to him?”

For the active / direct / task oriented person like Jerry who seems demanding, this may indicate a person who needs to see results, often quickly. The best way to manage them is prepare them for what is not working as planned instead of wait for them to find out. They do not mind change as long as they know you are planning an approach to it. Beat them to their pending question, give them a new dead line or a projection of how you will handle the situation. If you wait for them to ask, it won’t be as pretty.

For the sensitive and nurturing people like Sally Jo, recognize they need security in their work relationships. When security and stability are threatened, the thoughtful / moderate paced / relationship oriented people will often initially submit to the pressure or demand and later rebel through tears, victim stance or walking right into someone else’s office and tell them how hurt they are. Give them plenty of support, let them know they are liked and valued, and how they contribute to the team. They do not respond well to orders, but polite requests with plenty of “thank you’s” will do the trick.

Or maybe you hear about Craig who is normally quiet and almost shy, who walked into his team meeting and abruptly told them he was “off the project.” His reasoning? He didn’t have enough time to complete the project to his standards.

For the thoughtful / moderate paced / task oriented people like Craig, they need order within their own workspace, they need to feel like they have control over their part of the project. Because they don’t manage changes well, especially after they began the work, it is difficult for them to make shifts. Prepare them for possible changes to come, set expectations and projections so they know what to expect. If Craig knows his project will have to go before a committee and could be changed, he will at least be prepared; if not, it will be incredibly stressful for him.

How about Ellen who excitedly asks everyone to get involved in the holiday party, and think of ‘fun activities’ for the party. When others say they have too much on their plate, she acts hurt and pouty. She plays the “I thought we were a team, we really had something different to offer each other” card.

What about the active and cheerleading Ellen’s? The active / direct / people oriented ones who want to involve the rest of the office, who want every one to plan the ‘fun’ events with them and participate in the activity. Allow them the creative leeway (set your parameters up front and let them know how and what you will or will NOT be available to help with). Once they know your involvement (be very clear), they will more likely plan without pushing you. Note; they must have recognition for the work they are doing; they work best with others being involved. If that cannot happen, then don’t lead them on; they may retaliate through blame and sarcasm, not a fun way to celebrate.

Pamela’s Point:
Did you notice a common theme? Yes, communication is essential – no secrets, no waiting until things hit the fan. The sooner you set parameters and expectations for the different stress styles you work with, the merrier your holidays with your coworkers will be. Promise!

May you have happy holidays and always communicate with CLASS!


To learn more about the styles referred to in this article, click here.

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About Pamela Cournoyer

Being an honor student of life’s lessons& challenges, Pamela Cournoyer, founder of Communicate with CLASS,, “caught” how to be highly effective in working with groups who are not the happiest campers in the world. Her understanding and grasp of the natural nuances of discord in the workplace, coupled with her extensive 20+‐year background as a Professional Trainer, Coach and Facilitator, are the perfect combination. She intuitively and playfully surfaces obvious frustrations and will also have you laughing at her awkwardness and eventually at your own, with vows to move beyond and improve even the toughest ‘cookies’ in the room. Pamela is a "must see" and even more, a "must have" if you have an organization that is looking to improve their communication.

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Working With and Managing Other’s Stress During The Holidays