Stressful Self-sabotage

We live in trying times where the general stress of living continues to escalate. The political tension seems to be front and center on a daily basis, and by the number of friends I see leaving social media for an extended break, it is having a negative impact on the stress in people’s lives. Executives have additional stress in working to squeeze out profits and grow their businesses. People can self-sabotage when under a significant amount of stress.

Aside from the obvious stress-triggered poor eating, exercise and sleep habits, people can cause themselves greater stress with their choices. Also, there are other obvious ways executives are creating self-sabotage in the workplace. Could these three items be showing up in you and causing you to self-sabotage and make your situation even more stressful?

Being defensive. When an executive becomes defensive to constructive criticism, he loses clarity of the situation and his actions can actually stop people from bringing issues to his attention. When stress is increasing, an executive should want input and alternative perspectives to maintain clarity of what is actually going on.

Pounding out the criticism. Stressful executives can be quick to reach frustration and pounce on errors. In fact, one stressed executive I’ve worked with was quick to treat people like they had intentionally made the mistake just to upset her. This was her stress speaking more so than the significance of the error. When an executive criticizes the work of others without being constructive in nature and in some cases even turning it into a personal attack (“How could you be so stupid?”), this is a quick indicator the executive is speaking more about their own feelings of stress than about the error they are addressing.

Listening to the fraud voice. When times get tough, and one negative follows another in what feels like a cascade of bad news, I’ve witnessed many executives begin to listen to and believe self-doubt. Once that self-doubt takes hold, decisions are made for completely different reasons than doing what is best for the business. This will make a bad situation much worse.

When you are under tremendous stress, work to make sure you don’t lose faith in what you do well, be cognizant not to make your situation worse with improperly-based decisions, and have confidence you can work your way out of this difficult spot as long as you don’t self-sabotage.