It stands to reason, then, that building more stress absorbers into team structures will help safeguard against excessive stress. Like communities, stress absorbers are caring networks that respond to and support others. We can create stress absorbers by creating a sense of community among our teammates in the workplace.
The sense of being supported with care and consideration from others who are involved in the same mission truly diminishes the effects of stress on the team. Just as self-indulgence and a lack of concern for others drastically increases stress symptoms, isolated people – those who are not part of a community or team– are more often stressed out.
Society often applauds individuality and self sufficiency over community. We have all witnessed over and over how the prized drive to get ahead, get noticed and be better than others can wreak havoc on workplace morale.
A supportive work culture puts the team support and function ahead of individuality. A true team invests in group harmony and progress and supports the team through stress. People don't work in isolation, competing tooth and nail with one another; they grow as a team.
Under stress, supportive team members reach out to each other to offer support, suggestions, and constructive criticism instead of withdrawing or competing. The focus becomes how the team can better respond, not the individual.
Read: How to Influence Groups
Members of a supportive team always connect individual success with group productivity. When other team members are hurting or experience loss, the group rallies to support them.
In conflict, instead of focusing on why any individual is wrong and any other person’s viewpoint is superior, supportive teams focus on the greater good of the group. They have empathy for all members and understand how their individual actions affect others, either enhancing the work of the team or destroying it.
When a closed-off person finally fully understands how their actions impact others, change unfolds naturally. Instead of shrugging off criticism and ignoring ideas, supportive people grow with the team. The team works together to reach their goal.
Stress triggers body chemistry that speeds up the heart rate and lowers immunity; stress tightens muscles and reduces productive sleep. Stress is multiplied by the degree that you care. And once the stress response is triggered, it's very difficult to shut it off. Team support helps each member proactively stay focused on results.
Instead of worrying over stress, it helps to dive into the challenges and face them head on, and facing challenges is easier to do with the support and input of people who care. Internalizing stress only worsens its impact on the person and can consume an individual unwilling to face it.
To help support a member of your team who seems to be struggling:
· Recognize what causes the tension
· Consider your options to offer support
· Know your limits
· Own your choice