Some challenges at work feel like exciting problems to solve. Others feel like insurmountable obstacles. When you encounter the latter, there are strategies and tools that can help you get through them with less stress.
We spoke to experts about ways to deal with some of the most common challenges we face at work. Here’s what they suggested.
When you and a teammate have different communication styles
If you’re having trouble communicating with someone on your team, try taking five minutes to put your thoughts on paper before your next meeting with them. “Trying to communicate in a way that goes against your natural tendencies can be uncomfortable,” Michael Alcée, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, tells Thrive. “Writing it out helps you work from the inside out.” And just as important, don’t shy away from being honest about how you communicate best. At Thrive, we practice Compassionate Directness: a core company value meant to empower employees to speak up and surface pain points in real time. “Explain your preferred communication style to your teammates,” Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, Ph.D., author of The Introverted Leader: Building On Your Quiet Strength, suggests — and remember to listen as well. Working to better understand your colleagues’ communication styles allows you to have more empathy and communicate more clearly.
When you don’t know how to prioritize your tasks
When you start to feel stressed by how much is on your plate, try identifying non-urgent tasks that you can take off your to-do list today. Elizabeth Grace Saunders, a time management coach and the author of The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment and Divine Time Management, says that instead of trying to tackle everything at once, it’s important to shelve all tasks that can wait, or delegate them to someone else with more time. “If you have a massive increase in urgent work, you may need to suspend non-urgent work entirely, such as a project with no deadline, process improvement items, or networking meetings,” she explains. And if you need some help identifying which tasks can move off your plate, ask your manager for advice, or check in with the stakeholders of the projects you’re working on to see if any deadlines are flexible. When it comes to prioritizing, getting a second opinion can be a game-changer.
When your new project feels overwhelming
Many of us try to avoid asking questions because we want to appear confident and capable, but when we feel overwhelmed, asking for help and seeking clarity is critical. Researchers have even found 90 percent of the help that co-workers give one another in the workplace is in response to explicit requests — suggesting that we’re unlikely to get assistance if we don’t ask. Instead of letting your stress accumulate, ask your manager for clarification on the task at hand, and don’t be afraid to ask follow-up questions. Chances are, they’ll be happy you asked!