You’ve heard all about the dangers of secondhand smoke, but there’s another, more insidious danger of the secondhand variety lurking all around us: secondhand stress.
This phenomenon occurs in workplaces when one person rushes around in a stressed-out huff, in turn spreading anxiety to his or her colleagues, the Wall Street Journal reports. You know: that one co-worker (or gaggle of co-workers) who’s just always whizzing around all frazzled, wielding several electronic devices and probably sweating a lot.
All that rushing around often causes other employees to think, “Maybe I should be doing that, too, or maybe my stuff isn’t as important as his, or maybe he’ll be irritable if I interrupt,” Jordan Friedman, a New York City stress-management speaker and trainer, tells the Journal.
Additionally, just seeing other people — especially managers — acting so frenetically can easily become contagious, causing everyone to become all panicky without meaning to. This is especially common in open-plan offices. If the boss has a view of everybody, and one person is rushing around, others will be likely to follow suit so they don’t appear to be lazy or slow-moving.
So next time you’re whipping around the office, frantically typing away at your BlackBerry (do people still use those, or is that only in movies?), remember that your stress is probably spreading to others and just bringing everybody down. So take a deep breath, slow your pace, and remember, it’s all going to be okay.