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Has negative pressure taken over your life?

Negative pressure can spill over into the rest of life because it often gives rise to feelings of frustration, anger or helplessness.
It is very common when a business is struggling, when perhaps its owner is unable to see a way through the problems, or when the numbers don’t stack up.
Pressure normally affects the way a person behaves towards their staff, colleagues, friends and family.
How this manifests will depend on the individual.
If they feel that there is no escape, perhaps because of financial responsibility for others, then the pressure may be exacerbated by feeling trapped and the pressure can become intolerable.
It could be that there is a desire to make demands on everyone else to compensate for the frustration that things aren’t working out. So someone under pressure may try to assert their “authority” by using anger, controlling behaviour or shouting. Without thinking, this becomes a normal behaviour at work and home.
On the other hand a different personality, perhaps someone more prone to suppressing their worries or not facing an issue, may retreat into themselves and withdraw from communicating with others. Waking in the middle of the night to feelings of despair is not unusual.
Such feelings can lead to attempts to avoid confronting reality, whether through obsessive behaviours such as extreme exercise, clubbing, alcohol or drugs.
Think of the character Charlie Price, owner of a failing shoe business, in the musical Kinky Boots.

Breaking the spiral of despair

It always seems impossible until it's doneFamily and friends are rarely the best people to help to deal with the situation as they are emotionally involved and dealing with harsh realities can put a strain on the relationship. Close family and friends are however important when it comes to providing support and understanding, and even encouraging the right help.
In situations like this, someone or something is needed to break the cycle. All too often events escalate to an extreme level before this is acknowledged. While time can heal, dealing with immediate situations will normally need some form of intervention.
It is best to find someone to talk to, someone you trust but who can be objective about the problem. For the owner of a struggling business the need is for clarity about the situation and what can be done to solve it.
An expert in restructuring or turnaround will be able to look at the whole picture as well as the details in depth, to help analyse the problem and suggest solutions.  But there has to be a willingness to face the realities, however grim, and to take the steps necessary to rectify what is wrong and thus relieve the pressure.

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Pressure at work – the good and the bad

woman suffering pressure from work overloadPressure at work has been argued to be a positive when it encourages people to perform to the absolute best of their abilities. It acts rather like “nerves” can aid an actor or athlete to give a good performance.
It contributes to increased productivity and can concentrate the mind in ways that result in innovative solutions to seemingly intractable problems whereas insufficient pressure can lead to under-stimulation and boredom.
Pressure can affect bosses, managers and employees alike. Pressure can however, also have negative consequences.

Firstly, what types of negative pressure are there?

Negative pressure tends to be the result of excessive pressure such as when unreasonable demands are made.
Such demands might include the pressure to work longer and longer hours, but without a sense of worth or achievement from the extra work, a lack of prospects for development or promotion, unreasonable targets, a lack of support, financial and job insecurity, and many more examples.
Such pressure can be cultural, ie endemic throughout a business, or it can be down to individual management style. Essentially it is evidenced as management by fear and coercion to get results.
At its root, negative pressure makes individuals feel out of control and to feel that they are not able to influence their goals and how to achieve them.

The relationship between pressure and stress

Negative pressure manifests itself as ‘stress’ which in turn can be detrimental to health.
If pressure causes stress then the negative effects are likely to show in people’s behaviour although all too often this pressure can build internally without others being aware of it.
Irritability, a sense of isolation, feelings of lack of control or involvement in decision-making, extreme competitiveness and lack of an ability to work co-operatively with colleagues may all be signs of negative pressure.
None of these is helpful to mental health and ultimately a business will suffer if it does not have support systems in place to monitor and help staff.
Harnessing the power of positive pressure means a business needs realistic and achievable goals and needs to be aware of the impact of pressure on individual members of staff.
If these are not present, ultimately a business risks disengagement by staff which in turn risks the future survival of the business even when short term results are being achieved.
(Picture supplied by “Overwhelmed With Too Many Tasks” by marcolm)