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Monica Wofford, CSP, is a leadership development expert and author of Contagious Leadership and newly released, Make Difficult People Disappear.

The removal of stress truly begins with the meeting of their needs.

Sadly, we are all dealing with a whole new level of stress. TVs blare the news of a theatre massacre, country after country in turmoil, gas prices up and down, and of course the mudslinging US election ads, all of which make me grateful I chose a different path than my original dream of being an anchor person on CNN, where I would chase this negativity night after night. However, leaders at all levels must now deal with not only internal issues, but the impact of so many external elements brought into the office by the very constantly wired connections we think keep us productive.

My question to you is this: are you as a leader chasing the negative and ignoring its impact? If so, you’re not dealing with this heightened worldwide stress level, you’re adding to it and here’s how to stop that and dole out more effective actions in your office.

Give Them What They Need

One could argue that a man who walks into a Batman movie and unleashes terror and tragedy on the audience has not gotten his needs met for decades. In working with one client, we spotted an employee with this kind of potential and removed them from their role. Everyone has emotional and tangible needs and whether they are productivity, peace and harmony, accuracy of all things, or appreciation, you as a leader have a responsibility to find out what team members need and to meet those needs professionally. You simply cannot assume that your needs are the same as theirs. You’re also not their psychologist but you have the power to make a difference and prevent their actions from escalating to unimaginable heights.

Give Them an Outlet

When working with 22 trainers in a previous role, I used a method called a “vent session” where employees could walk in my office and say or do what they wanted, without throwing things at me, for up to 30 minutes. I would not respond and simply listen and when they were done they would shake it off and go back to work. Bottled up feelings or frustrations create a ticking time bomb waiting to happen and just saying “check your emotions at the door” doesn’t do it for most. Give them a way to release the fear, anxiety, irritation, or anger and in that process you’ll know more about what’s really bugging them and how to address it.

Keep Them Focused with Your Ears Open

The pollyanna pom-poms you wear when the building is burning down or the company is going under, that wave in the air when you say “It will all be okay!” are merely covering up the issues. Covering up does not make them go away, it pushes them down to the depths of suppression and suspension of the time when they’ll come out with a big bang. Address and acknowledge what you hear as their concerns and then bring them back to the task at hand. It might sound like “I know you are concerned and you have every reason to be. Perhaps this project will help give you time to think before acting. Let’s focus on this task at hand and then devote time to work on your concern immediately afterward.”

You have the power as a leader to impact the daily behaviors and beliefs of those you lead. You can ignore their stress and watch them become difficult, crying out for their needs to be met in one way or another, or you can uncover what they need, give those to them or lead them to find other ways, and reduce the appearance of stress in the office. I wrote Make Difficult People Disappear for this purpose. You really can reduce the stress and it all starts with knowing what others need from you and being interested in helping them get those needs met.

Have a great Monday, an even better week and of course, stay contagious!

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