image I Know If I Trust You in Milliseconds image Delightful Conversations = Delightful Outcomes in the Workplace

Stressful Conversations: Understanding the After Effects of Cortisol

workplace stress and cortisol

You know how some people say that they thrive under stress? Those people are lying.

High levels of stress are no good for anyone. You might be someone who thrives in high pressure situations, but that’s not the same thing as enjoying high levels of stress. Too much stress causes a series of physical reactions, which can range from higher blood pressure to heart attack. High levels of stress at work can lead to depression, stomach aches, ulcers, regular headaches, and difficulty sleeping, among other symptoms.

A lot of factors can affect workplace stress, including the various factors involved in a negative workplace culture. Often, the most substantial workplace stress is caused by supervisors. If you manage a team of people at your business, you might be causing your team members undue stress without even realizing it.

For example, if one of your team members is intimidated by you or worries about disappointing you, they are going to have a physical reaction every time that you speak to them. Within a second of beginning a conversation with someone, you can increase the level of cortisol in their brain.

Cortisol is the stress hormone, and elevated levels of cortisol can actually cause a person’s prefrontal cortex to stop working the way it’s supposed to. The prefrontal cortex is where we develop new ideas, where we engage in creative thinking, where we experience empathy, and it’s where our good judgment resides. High levels of stress have also been found to have a negative impact upon memory.

In other words, too much stress is simply no good.

So how can you help ensure that your actions aren’t causing undue stress? One of the most effective methods is to improve your Conversational Intelligence.

Conversational Intelligence is a measure of your ability to communicate effectively with the people around you. If you have low conversational intelligence, you might cause people stress and contribute to a negative impact of workplace culture without even realizing it. Watch out for these warning signs:

  • Do people who report to you avoid having conversations with you? Do they write emails instead of dropping by your office?
  • In conversations, do the people who report to you consistently give short answers? Do they feel comfortable asking you questions?
  • Do the people who report to you ever seek out your advice, or do they turn to their co-workers instead?

If any of these warning signs ring about, it might be time to focus on your Conversational Intelligence. By finding better ways to communicate with your team members, you can improve everyone’s workplace experience and make your team more productive.

About Joy Ruhmann
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