Stress talk

I’m giving a talk on stress tomorrow to one of the squadrons and I’m feeling a bit stressed out about it. I’ve never met these people before and I don’t know at what level to pitch the discussion so I’ve opted for a low-key approach. Mix it up with some pictures (the shark and the helicopter is an arresting image to start with) and I’ve drawn heavily from the UN peacekeepers’ stress management guide. I like the distinction it draws between three types of stress — basic, cumulative and traumatic.

But the trick for me is not to get too stressed out about it. These talks work best if they are tailored to the needs of the audience. From what I’ve been told the audience will mostly be ground crew and support staff.

As luck would have it, I have two other major stressors this week. I have to go away on another work trip next Monday, and this one will involve a drive of at least 12 hours practically up to Botswana. Yesterday I did the run-around getting signatures and authority. It’s such a tedious business when I have to get three signatures for everything and drive for 30 minutes at my own expense to do so. There are also the personalities to deal with along the way. Waiting for the OC’s signature for example, I was told by a major that she was going to be using the car after me and that I needed to get my “gat in ‘n rat” (my ass into gear) to make sure the car was in a good condition when she used it. This is from a woman who’s never met me before.

Then there’s the house stuff. I need to pay the balance of the purchase price this week, which means borrowing extensively from my parents. Of course I will pay them back as much as I can from the bond and also the sale of my house in Johannesburg. But there seem to be a lot of things out of my control at the moment. And I do resent the fact that I have to drive so far for work. With better organisation on their part this could have been avoided.

What this means in terms of blogging is that I won’t be blogging much (if at all) for a couple of weeks. I haven’t decided yet whether to take the laptop along but even if I do my attention will be largely elsewhere.

Here are two pictures I’m using for the stress talk.



The first one is a hoax and has been altered while the second one is true and shows construction workers on the Empire State Building. In those days they apparently didn’t have harnesses or protective headgear but they look relatively un-stressed about the job. A major part of stress management is managing your perceptions and it would be interesting to compare the perceptions of workers in those days with those now. From a South African perspective we seem to have a much greater sense of entitlement these days and workers are a lot more assertive about standing up for their rights. I’ll be interested to see what comes out of the discussion tomorrow.


10 Responses to Stress talk

  1. sandyphd says:

    Good luck with your talk. As a stress management tool, I suppose you could say to yourself “1) At least I have a job and 2) I’m not driving into battle.” (sorry, not very helpful in the clutch, am I?)

    Might also be helpful to seek out individual stress reactions from the audience. People do have varied physical and emotional stress responses.

  2. litlove says:

    The very best of luck with your talk! I was reading a book on improving performance a few weeks ago, and it suggested that when giving a talk, one should try to personalise the audience. Not see them as a hostile block, but as real individual souls, wary, insecure, open, ready to be interested and transformed. I’ve got every faith in you and I’m sure you’ll be fabulous.

  3. Pete says:

    Sandy – Thanks. LOL – no, that did help. I’m all in favour of gratitude and positive thinking. As it turned out, the audience were rather quiet and asked no questions at all. But I asked if it was helpful and they said it was. It was just a short talk as part of the squadron’s morning meeting so I don’t read too much into their silence. But I felt that I connected with them and that is what matters. It would have been good to get individual responses though.

    Litlove – Welcome back! That’s good advice, thanks. I got there about ten minutes early so I managed to observe them before I had to talk. When it was my turn to talk I had a good idea of the different sections of the audience, which definitely helped. But for the first ten minutes (while I was waiting) my tummy rumbled almost constantly, which was quite embarassing (but probably not audible to the rest of the group).

  4. Courtney says:

    Oh, good luck with your talk. I am anxious (perhaps not the best choice of words…) to hear how it goes. And good luck with all the house crap…there really is no better choice of words for that kind of ordeal, I don’t think…

  5. I hope the talk went well!

  6. Pete says:

    Courtney – Thanks. You are so right about the house crap. I am so over it already, and the big payment day is Monday (when I’m driving all the way across the country).

    Lilian – Thanks, it went fine. I always dread them but it’s a good learning experience and I realised I need to ask questions in the beginning to make it more of an interaction.

  7. doctordi says:

    That means today is the big payment day… hope it goes smoothly, Pete! Glad the talk was fine – asking questions at the beginning sounds like a great ice-breaker for future talks.

    I love that photo of the guys hanging around the Empire State construction site, it’s fabulous!

    Drive safely, and enjoy the time away from us – but come back soon!

  8. Danielle Brady And Katharine Chapman says:

    In our double lesson we have been learning about photography and we came across a wonderful photographer named LEWIS HINE he is our idol his work in outstanding amazing we hope to meet lewis one day and he can share his photography with us to give us ideas as we are going to grow up and be the same i want you to knoe that WE LOVE LEWIS love from danielle & katherine 🙂

  9. Pete says:

    LOL. Lewis definitely rocks but I doubt you’ll get to meet him (except perhaps in the next life) since he died in 1940. You should check him out on Wikipedia.

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