Keep sanity in workplace gone crazy

Q. Seems to me that a lot of people in my workplace appear to be losing their minds these days. I try hard to find logical connections between what is happening and how people are reacting, but both coworkers and customers seem a little crazy. How can I keep my sanity when everybody around me seems to losing theirs?

A. You can keep your sanity by understanding that you may not be able to control what is going on around you but you can definitely control how you react to what is going on around you.

Most of our anxiety at work comes from trying to control situations that we actually have no control over. Some of us seem to believe that if we just worry hard enough, the stuff we worry about will be magically banished.

The question you want to ask yourself immediately if your workplace seems crazy is, what do you actually have the power to control? Now make sure you get all the information you can and take all the action you can in areas where you have power.

In areas where you don't have power, ask yourself a different question. The question when you lack influence is, what options do I have if the problems I worry about occur? Brainstorm as many options as you can, and linger long and hard on ways you could turn some of these problems into opportunities.

We all tend to like our status quo because we feel reality is more controllable when it is predictable. Problems can often be gifts in disguise, however, because problems force us to expand our thinking to invent solutions.

When you can't just keep doing the same old thing at work, you'll be forced to change. As long as you are going through the discomfort of change, you might as well get something good out of it like a cool opportunity.

Problems also force us to grow up. For instance, you may have had a hundred confusing conversations with your boss where she tells you you're not a "team player." You may have always felt insulted but never actually known what she meant. If you realize the power you have is to ask her to describe on a video screen what she wants, you might finally get that raise you've been eying.

Human beings tend to improve, like chunks of coal, when they are put under pressure. Coal turns into diamonds, and human beings turn into resilient and creative adults.

Sometimes the same pressure that makes one individual at work brilliant will crack another. You want to watch your coworkers and customers closely for the choices they make when under pressure. Get closer to the people who take responsibility and mature. Create distance from those that get increasingly irrational and self-destructive.

Last word(s)

Q. Is there any one skill set that will guarantee me the ability to land a job in our uncertain economy?

A. Yes, the skill set of being able and enthusiastic to learn. People who can learn will also find grateful employers.

(Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker, also appears as the FOX Channel's "Workplace Guru" each Monday morning. She's the author of "Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything" (Hay House, 2006). You can contact Dr. Skube at or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027. Sorry, no personal replies.)

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