“The reason humans experience so much more stress than other species isn’t just because we think more, but also because we think differently.”
Andrew J. Bernstein

We conclude our January conversation this week looking at Encounter Stress, which is the fourth area of Albrecht’s Four Types of Stress. This is where you worry about interacting with a particular person or a particular group of people. You often find a particular person difficult to deal with, you may not like them, or this person or group you have to interact with have often shown themselves as unpredictable in how they respond to your dealings with them.

If your role involves a lot of personal interactions with customers or clients then encounter stress can be major, especially if your organisations products or services have problems. If you work for a telephone company for instance and they are not providing and delivering the service they advertise, encounter stress can be a huge problem for those in their Call Centre.

Certain professions like nurses, health care practitioners and social workers have high rates of encounter stress, because the people they work with routinely don’t feel well, or can be in major pain or deeply upset. An old adage… “sick bodies, have sick minds” states that when people are experiencing pain that is abnormal for them, they can over react in their response. Those people they come into contact with in this state often receive a verbal blast, which is not the normal behaviour style for this person.

How Best to Manage Encounter Stress

The first thing to consider is to look at your life situation. Ask yourself the question, “can I decide just not to deal with this person or group anymore?” If the answer is no, you can immediately remove the stressor and your life can change.

Most of the time however, the situation we find ourselves in we need to adapt to, not dismiss. Here emotional intelligence plays a major role in supporting us to recognize the emotions, wants, and needs of yourself and of others.

You will find some great tools to support you with encounter stress in our free report you can access at www.stressmanagementforlifeprogram.com

Understanding the difference between empathy and sympathy helps you to structure your communications so that you address the other person’s feelings, wants, and needs. When you are sympathetic with the other person, you can become engulfed in their situation. Empathy on the other hand enables you to understand their situation, but not become involved in it. Using phrases like … ‘I hear what you are saying’; ‘I can see that’; ‘I really feel how you must be feeling right now’. You can use the appropriate phrase according to the major communication style the person you are dealing with uses and they feel as though you are a friend who understands their situation. This alone can diffuse a huge amount of stress for an individual.

Whenever you feel encounter stress is gaining the upper hand in your life, step out for a short break. Go for a walk, do some deep breathing, watch a slide show of beautiful scenery, watch a brief fun filled video, enjoy a ‘gut wrenching’ laugh.

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