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Job Stress and the Chicken Little Syndrome


Your job is a large part of your life. You spend 40 hours at work each week. And many additional hours thinking about things that happened (or might happen) at work. Most people are not able to turn off their concerns about their jobs like a faucet. And what happens at work is carried home and reacted to according to whether it was good or troublesome.

The workplace should be attractive as well as functional, ideally the work should be interesting, and hopefully your associates should be helpful and pleasant.

Unfortunately, there is often a Chicken Little in the hen house or in the workplace. Even one depressed employee can cause a cloud over the whole office. Chicken Little was so sure the sky was going to fall in that she was able to convince everyone she met of the same thing.

You can guess what happens to the morale in an office when one employee spreads gloom. Depression is contagious. It is difficult to be happy or contented when you are waiting for some disaster to take place. “The company is going bankrupt.” “There’s going to be a big layoff.” “The company is being sold.”

Usually, people who are consumed with disaster, also feel free to be overly critical of others. Unwarranted criticism can bring the morale down in the workplace faster than the sky falling in.

And, unfortunately, what happens at work too often is carried home and influences your time off. So don’t give in to a Chicken Little. If he/she confronts you with a dire prediction just laugh it off and change the subject.

If you can enlist others around you, you might make a game of it and say, “This is Thursday, only optimistic conversation is acceptable on Thursdays.

Or Friday. This is Friday If you don’t have something constructive to talk about on Fridays, you aren’t allowed to talk.

Or Monday. No pessimism is allowed on Monday.

If it’s Tuesday, don’t bother to be critical. The victim won’t hear it.

On Wednesdays, only happy talk is allowed.

If this doesn’t work, you will have to handle it head on and let him/her know that no one wants to hear dire predictions, and if they are going to criticize, everyone will laugh.

Even one individual can have a great deal of influence on the mood of the workplace. Don’t let the morale in your office be the victim of a Chicken Little.

Copyright 2006 Robert T. Lewis

Robert T. Lewis, Ph.D.

Psychologist and Author of:

The Best Little Job Stress Manual on the Planet

www.self-helpebooks.com