This 5-Minute Exercise Can Defuse a Stressful Work Situation, According to Psychologists

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine2.3k
May 20, 2024 at 2:28AM UTC

Employees who receive unconditional positive regard in the workplace feel more valued by their coworkers and managers, affecting myriad aspects of their work, from performance to satisfaction, a study published in the British Journal of Management reveals.

Is it really that easy? This one thing? If so, why don’t we all embrace this philosophy?

Let’s take a look at what it means and how people can use it in the workplace.

What is unconditional positive regard?

A term popularized by Carl Rogers, unconditional positive regard, or UPR, is the full acceptance and support of an individual, regardless of their actions, choices or behaviors. The concept is the core of client-centered therapy, of which Rogers was a proponent. This contrasted the more common types of therapy at the time, which Rogers found too judgmental; instead, he preached empathy and compassion. This, he believed, could help individuals feel safe and understood.

How to use UPR to diffuse a stressful work situation.

UPR isn’t limited to therapy. It can be a helpful practice in the workplace, too.

Have an open, honest conversation.

When tensions are high, people can be quick to judge and treat one another with contempt. According to the philosophy of UPR, however, people should practice respect, hearing one another out and otherwise responding with compassion, even when they don’t necessarily approve of the other person’s actions. It’s important to have an open dialogue, where people can express themselves.

If you’re a leader, use this as a tool to help employees see different perspectives and understand that there’s not always one correct viewpoint. Everyone has a voice.

Employ an open-door policy.

Unconditional positive regard means that as a manager, you should make yourself available to your team members. Make it clear that you’re there to support your employees.

An open-door policy is a way to express that you want to hear from everyone and help them, not judge them. It also gives them the space to share with you, knowing that you won’t judge them, whether or not you approve of their choices.

Use this approach to cultivate motivation.

UPR isn’t just about addressing the negative. It’s also about cultivating a culture of optimism. Leaders and team members can proactively set a tone by treating one another with respect, accepting diverse perspectives and expressing that they will accept everyone. This not only serves to defuse tensions during difficult and stressful times — it also motivates team members and allows them to be brave and express themselves without the fear of contempt.

What's your no. 1 piece of advice for defusing stressful workplace situations? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss'ers!

About the Career Expert:

 Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket and The Haven.

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