The best way to deal with stress is by removing it.

The root of stress is uncertainty.

Someone at work said this today. I’ve no idea if it’s original or not, but it made a lot of sense to me, and apparently is pretty valid.

Feeling wary

I often find the urge to feel “wary” of people in positions of power over me. It’s something that’s definitely affected my relationships with past managers.

I’d imagine it’s not an uncommon notion. Older generations, especially, come from a work-culture more strongly valuing career stability and longevity, and so it seems at least mostly rational to insist on tip-toeing around the person with direct control over your career’s stability and longevity.

In my experience, however, this is the totally wrong way to handle peer-to-manager interactions.

Feeling stressed

Everyone complains about being stressed at work. Personally, I stress the most over things like whether

  • my team likes me,
  • my manager likes me,
  • my team thinks I’m a valuable member,
  • my manager thinks I’m doing a good job,
  • I’m working fast enough,
  • I’m working too much,
  • I’m working the correct hours,
  • I’ll get a return offer, or
  • I’m qualified for my position.

So many small worries that eat away at my happiness and productivity.

The solution

My list of stressors is literally just a series of yes/no questions. So, running with the hypothesis that uncertainty is a huge contributor to stress, the solution is…

Just ask for feedback.

This isn’t a novel concept by any means. But I can attest to its efficacy.

Ask your manager:

  • How have I been doing?
  • What can I do better?
  • What have I been doing well?
  • Are you content with the quality, and rate, of my work?
  • Are you comfortable recommending me for a return offer?
  • Do you think I’m qualified for my position?
  • Do you have any general tips?

Ask your teammates:

  • How can I be a better teammate?
  • How were y’all’s internship experiences?
  • Do you think I’m qualified for my position?
  • Do you have any general tips?

The result

Every week, during our 1-on-1 meetings, I ask my manager for feedback on how I’m doing. And every week, the uncertainty of my status within the team is wiped.

And therefore, every week, my stress level deflates by an order of magnitude, allowing me to be a more productive employee and much happier person.