Your Success Thought on "Sharing Stress"
March 1, 2006

An intriguing question was posed at a symposium for high-level business and corporate leaders last week. “How much stress is appropriate to share with your spouse?” By the nodding heads in the room, I could see that this was a widely-spread concern.

Each of us carries stress in different ways. Some carry it in our heads, never seeming to relax, always searching for that next solution, worrying constantly, never quite present and often distant. What do these people miss by not inviting others in?

Others carry stress in their bodies. These executives are often sick or complain of chronic physical ailments. Their strength and posture weakens through the years. There is little wisdom in this martyrdom approach for dealing with their anxiety.

And there are those of us who carry our stress externally. We make sure that everyone with in earshot knows how pressured we are. This burdensome sharing doesn’t stop with co-workers; it continues to the gym, social situations and, of course, the spouse and family.

While it is important to open up about the stresses of the day, please be discerning as to with whom, how and when you share. Several keys exist to effectively release worry in a manner that will not tax your relationships. Here are five:

  1. Permission: Be certain you have permission to share your stresses. Respect that others have their bucket full. Ask them if they are willing to listen. Watch their reactions. Never assume, even in casual situations.
  2. Timing: If you come home each evening with a litany of your day’s woes and your partner is equally stressed, what will this do to your relationship? Be sensitive to times of the day that are appropriate for such important interactions.
  3. TMI: Know when enough is enough. In providing too much information, you lose the listener’s interest and perhaps his crucial feedback. Give minimal details, and then open the dialogue to questions, comments and opinions.
  4. Venting: Some of us merely need to vent. If this is the case, say so. You may be done, relieved, and ready to move on while the receiver readies himself to problem solve and takes offense at not having the opportunity to do so.
  5. Responsibility: Own your stress. It belongs to no one else. There are people and activities to help you deal with it, but in the end, you are the only one who can come up with the cure, be it physical, mental or spiritual.

So, to answer the question of how much stress to share with your spouse: ask for permission to share, watch your timing, provide only pertinent information, let him know if you are merely venting, and that it is your responsibility, not theirs, to find a solution.

See what there is to learn about releasing your stress this week. Ask for feedback from your previous sharing. Was is too much? Not enough? What were the results? Watch those whom you respect. Ask them how they share their stress and with whom.

There is much to learn in this area.

Enjoy your discoveries and have a grand week.


Ann Golden Eglé, MCC
Executive Coach & President
Golden Visions Success Coaching, LLC

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