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Ryan Linda

Therapist’s Corner…It’s a Fact of Life

     Stress...it’s a fact of life!! Nobody avoids stress. Period. BUT, the way we view and deal with our stress makes all the difference between those who seem to have it all together and those who seem to live in chaos. Dealing poorly means living with anxiety. Dealing well means developing resilience.
     Stress is simply those glitches in life, whether big or little, where things just aren’t going our way. Stress doesn’t cause burn out, it’s what we do in response to stress that can cause burn out.
     When stress happens, dealing with it poorly includes ignoring, trying to pretend it isn’t there, complaining that it always happens to you, placing the responsibility on others to fix things, or behaving differently. Dealing poorly is when you notice the anxiety that is developing, and you make yourself so busy that you don’t have time to think about the stressful situation and what needs to be done.
     When stress happens, dealing with it well includes considering the situation and making decisions about what can be done differently. We all know it is useless to try to make others do something so that we feel better, but it seems we often try anyway. Dealing well means deciding we are the only ones who can change in some way to get off the anxiety track, and deciding to do it.
     So, you say, give me one example of what I can do. Alrighty then, that is the right attitude! First, stop for a minute and take a breath, focusing on the area around your heart, a little slower and deeper than usual. You might count in 4 seconds and then out 4 seconds. Second, focus on something or someone for which you are grateful. Perhaps your pet, or a sunrise or sunset, or your child’s smile. Notice the sensation that goes with feeling grateful. Allow yourself to bask in the sensation while breathing in and out and focusing on the area of your heart.
     Not only will this help in the moment, but if you practice this daily, over a period of time you will notice yourself reacting to stress with less anxiety and more thoughtfulness. Sounds like a winner to me!

~Linda Ryan, Therapist

Jordan

Therapist’s Corner…Compassion Fatigue

     The American Institute of Stress defines compassion fatigue as (Figley, 1995), the emotional residue or strain of exposure to working with those suffering from the consequences of traumatic events. It differs from burn-out, but can co-exist. Compassion Fatigue can occur due to exposure on one case or can be due to a “cumulative” level of trauma. Careers in which this is most prevalent includes but is not limited to police officers, clergy, correctional staff, mental health workers, child protection workers, lawyers, educators, first responders and care givers.
     When working with individuals in therapy settings, those who are working in caring professions often place self care as a very low priority in their own lives. People who are drawn to helping professions often find meeting the needs of and serving others, fulfilling. While altruism is a commendable driving force behind one’s career, it can also put you at high risk for compassion fatigue.

Symptoms of Compassion Fatigue
– Affects many dimensions of your well-being
– Nervous system arousal (Sleep disturbance)
– Emotional intensity increases
– Cognitive ability decreases
– Behavior and judgment impaired
– Isolation and loss of morale
– Depression and PTSD
– Loss of self-worth and emotional modulation
– Identity, worldview, and spirituality impacted
– Beliefs and psychological needs-safety, trust, esteem, intimacy, and control
– Loss of hope and meaning=existential despair
– Anger toward perpetrators or causal events
     If after reading through this list, you find yourself identifying with many of these items, there are strategies to engage in that can assist in relieving symptoms of compassion fatigue. The number of work hours employees in the Unites States put in per week far exceeds that of other first world countries. Employees benefit from taking vacation and sick leave in addition to healthy boundaries to not engage in work during off hours. Adequate sleep of 7-8 hours and 30 min of daily exercise is beneficial to reducing symptoms as well as promoting overall health. Positive peer support in work settings as well as outside of work can alleviate compassion fatigue. Keep a gratitude journal and schedule mini breaks into your day. Get medical treatment if needed to relieve symptoms that interfere with daily functioning- don’t use alcohol or drugs to self-medicate

Recommended Resources:
     Books: “The Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel van Der Kolk
     “The Compassion Fatigue Workbook” by Francoise Mathieu
     Apps: Insight Timer Website: prolog.org Professional Quality of Life Scale
     YouTube: TED-talk The Edge of Compassion Francoise Mathieu

~Jordan Allen, Therapist

Lenz

Tips from Our EAP...
Dealing with Angry and Difficult Customers 

     Black Friday is approaching! If dealing with irate customers makes you want to drive home, jump back into bed, and hide under the covers ... take heart. Once you know the tricks of the trade, angry customers become less upsetting and more acceptable as part of the customer service landscape. Here's how to diffuse overheated situations and win them over.
Listen First, Speak Later
     The initial burst of anger from your customer will almost always be the most intense. And because it's so stressful for the person on the receiving end, flustered employees often try to end the confrontation quickly in order to ease their own discomfort.
     This mistake usually leads to escalation. Resist the urge to interrupt, argue, or engage in problem solving. Instead, relax, slow down your breathing, and listen intently while nodding and making eye contact with your customer.
Apologize and Empathize
     Your customer will eventually run out of steam and pause to collect his or her thoughts. When this happens, take the opportunity to apologize. An effective apology goes to the heart of what has upset your customer. For example, a customer who is displeased about an undisclosed $10 service charge is more likely to be angry about feeling deceived than about the fee itself. Address that anger specifically and empathize with it. Example: "I'm sorry. That charge should have been pointed out to you at the time of your purchase. No one likes to be surprised by hidden fees."
     Resist "blame shifting" or passing the buck. In your customer's eyes, you are the company, so don't take anything that's said to you personally. This is the secret to coping well with any customer service complaint.
Clarify
     Immediately after apologizing, repeat the customer's complaint to him or her. Clarifying the complaint assures the customer that you're concerned about the problem and helps you avoid further misunderstandings that may reignite his or her anger again.
Maintain a Calm, Positive Tone
     You have tremendous influence over your customer's emotional state. (Although it doesn't feel that way!) Lowering your voice and speaking slowly and calmly in a pleasant manner relaxes and disarms an angry customer.
Take Immediate Action
One of the biggest drivers of customer anger is feeling like they're getting the runaround. Taking the steps above assures your customer of the following facts:
   - He or she is valued.
   - You have a plan.
   - He or she won't be abandoned.
   - You will be accountable and available for follow-up.
Follow Up “Tough Cases”
     An angry customer is not necessarily a former customer. So, don't write them off!
     A follow-up phone call or message a few days following the resolution of a complaint sends the message that you care about your customer's satisfaction and well-being. Most customers just want to feel valued. This technique builds super strong loyalty.
You can't please everyone, but you can improve and enhance your company's image and responsiveness in every dispute. The more you practice these techniques, the more success you'll have calming customers, winning them over, and reducing stress.

     No one is superhuman. An unusually stressful incident involving an angry customer can leave you rattled. If a violent or near-violent incident took place, you certainly may benefit from support, even if it is just talking about it. If a stressful incident leaves you lacking energy or a positive attitude, contact us for practical tips and targeted help.

~Lana Lenz, EAP Coordinator (article from Daniel Feerst, LISW-CP, WorkExcel.com)

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