Stress tolerance relates to how well someone is able to cope with stressful situations. Does the person feel that they can positively affect the outcome and change the situation? Do they effectively manage the stress, or do they become overwhelmed and unable to function? These stressors can come in many forms. From the constant bombardment of instant messages and emails to more global issues like a pandemic. Then there is the rate of which change happens all around us in the modern world.
“What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” – Robert Schuller
We know that stress plays a huge part in many peoples lives. In and of itself, stress is not a bad thing in the right measure. However, each person has their limit as to what they can handle and how they deal with stress. Emotional intelligence goes a long way to mitigate the impact of stress and how to effectively deal with it.
Higher Range vs Lower Range Stress Tolerance
Those who fall in the higher range of stress tolerance are able to experience stressful situations without letting it overwhelm them. They are more likely to:
• Have effective and mature coping mechanisms.
• Be calm and collected even when experiencing high stress.
• Be confident in their ability to manage challenges and change.
• Maintain a sense of control.
Those with a lower level of stress tolerance will find certain situations more stressful and difficult to manage than someone who has a higher stress tolerance. They are more likely to:
• Experience higher levels of anxiety when faced with stressful situations.
• Be more reactive as opposed to proactive under stress.
• Not have the necessary internal resources and mechanisms in place to deal with and resolve the stressful situation.
• Higher risk of stress affecting their physical and mental wellbeing.
Stress At Work
Stress in the workplace is a very big problem, affecting millions of people in various industries and professions. An article in Mental Health UK said that 74% of adults in the UK have experienced stress in the last 12 months. The figures differ slightly between men and women, as well as in different age groups. Not only does stress negatively affect mental and physical health, but it is also very costly to organizations. With employees having reduced performance and increased absenteeism. Then there is often the additional costs of new hiring and training to stand in for employees that have been booked off due to stress.
All workplaces will generate some level of stress at all levels of the hierarchy. How staff members manage and tolerate stress will determine if they can do their job effectively and the impact it has on their and the organisations overall performance.
Impact On The Workplace
It is important to consider both the job role and the potential person who will be doing that role. Managing the stress tolerance of the person with the perceived level of stress in that role is vital. It can be very costly to hire someone who has a very low level of tolerance for a high stress position. Example, someone who has a low level of stress tolerance may not be the best person to be the air traffic controller at Heathrow airport.
Someone who has a higher level of stress tolerance may:
• Manage difficult working situations more effectively.
• Be more confident in the work they do and in expressing their views to the team and management.
• Less prone to stress related illness and absenteeism.
• Be more confident in stepping outside their comfort zone.
• Better at setting and achieving challenging goals.
Those with a lower stress tolerance are more likely to have higher levels of anxiety. They are more likely to:
• Be less productive when faced with adversity.
• Find it difficult to work with someone who is more direct and less caring.
• May be less likely to effectively lead a team if they even want to.
• Be more erratic depending on their own and environmental stress level.
• May try to avoid tasks that are outside their comfort zone and do new things that challenge them.
“If you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate.” – Thomas J. Watson
The Effects In Leadership
It is probably better that anyone in a leadership position has a higher level of stress tolerance. Working with and managing a team of people brings its own challenges. One should be able to successfully juggle multiple tasks, work with different personality types, have work pressures from both superiors and staff and much more. All the while trying to do your own work. It is not that leaders with higher stress tolerance do not experience stress. They are better equipped to deal with it. Directing their energy to resolving the cause of the stress, rather than getting caught up in the event itself.
Leaders who have a low stress tolerance, may feel stressed when they fear that their jobs are in jeopardy. That might be because of a new staff member or rising star, or it could even be due to the company making redundancies etc. One who feels at risk of losing their power is more inclined to stop sharing their knowledge, skills and other resources, as they want to try stay “indispensable.” They may not trust those around them and start to become more closed off to collaboration. Or they may become hostile as they feel threatened of losing their position.
A team may not know how to respond to this, leaving staff on edge and not knowing what to expect. It may be difficult for staff to believe they can rely on their leadership to direct them appropriately. This can lead to increased stress for staff which will impact their productivity.
A more relaxed leader fosters more relaxed staff and thus a less stressful working environment. This in turn can lead to staff staying in their positions longer and costing the company less money to replace. All in all, making the organisation more productive and profitable.
A manager who has a higher stress tolerance will likely assess a difficult situation calmly, choose a course of action and confidently direct his staff towards a resolution.
On the other hand, a leader who has a lower stress tolerance, when faced with the same problem may become overwhelmed by the enormity and responsibility of the task. This stress overwhelm may turn into anxiety which may prevent them from thinking clearly. Struggling to consider the best way forward or how to direct their staff appropriately. They may also second guess the decisions they make, which does not instil confidence in their team.
“For with God all things are possible.” – Matthew 19:26
Improving Stress Tolerance and Emotional Intelligence
A healthy level of stress tolerance is essential. Some positions and environments require a higher level than others.
If you find that stress tolerance may be a challenge for yourself or someone you know, then get in touch.
The first step is to take the emotional intelligence assessment to discover where one falls on the scale for each of the 15 subscales. The aim is not to have high scores, or to avoid low scores. It is rather to have the correct balance and most appropriate responses to the various environments one might find yourself in.
On completion of the we can then work with you to increase the specific areas that you feel will have the most immediate and positive impact in your life.
The emotional intelligence assessment is done online and followed up with a face-to-face coaching session, which can be done via Zoom or in person.
Working on one’s EI can lead to significant positive results in all areas of life. Not only making one over all happier, but more effective and approachable.
To find out more about how your organization can benefit, contact us today for a no-obligation conversation.