Work and stress go hand-in-hand for most of us.  Usually, work-related stress can be left at the office but, sometimes, it can be impossible to “switch off” when we get home. This kind of stress, which can include intense worry and even anger, can negatively impact relationships and home life.  If you have a partner who is experiencing this, it can be very hard to know how best to help.  This article sets out a few ways to support them.


In the first few minutes of getting home, your spouse or significant other may feel the need to unburden themselves by recounting their frustrations.  This kind of venting can be very cathartic and helpful in the process of unwinding and calming down.  All the negative feelings that have accumulated at work — and not been expressed — can finally be let free in a safe environment with a person they trust.  In this heightened state of emotion, it’s very important to feel heard, so as busy as this time of day usually is, try to provide your undivided attention and listen fully.  It’s important to understand that venting is not the same as a conversation that seeks advice or solutions — that may come later, but for now, just listen.

Offer Support

Naturally, there will be times when real conversations happen about the source of the stress and unhappiness. Listening fully is critical, of course, but so is offering support. If you are not sure what your partner needs, ask.  Perhaps they want your thoughts on how to make things better at work, or perhaps they just want to talk it over and be reminded that you are there for them.  It’s vital to show that you are fully engaged in the conversation. Importantly, don’t compare their stress or difficult situation to your own current challenges, however tempting, because this conversation is not about you. Schedule time for that talk, certainly, but stay focused on your partner in this instance.

Determine the Nature of the Stress

It’s important to understand what kind of stress is being experienced.  Is it short-term stress, or is there a stressful situation that is on-going?  A perceived threat of being laid off, coping with a difficult manager, or dealing with a hostile colleague can be much more stressful and difficult to manage than the stress caused by a particularly busy week.  If you can determine that the stress being experienced is likely to be short-lived, it can help to put it into perspective and make it more manageable.  If the source of the stress is on-going, then the two of you can discuss a way forward — such as practical steps to find a solution or coping strategies to relax and unwind at home.

Encourage Distractions

In times of severe and on-going stress it’s common to feel exhausted and even reclusive, but getting out of the house is important to our sense of well-being and overall health. Encourage your partner to pursue activities such as hobbies or sports, and to meet up with friends. This can do much to remind them that life isn’t all about work, or being at home, and it can certainly take their mind of their worries and help them cope.

Create a Haven

The home should be a safe and tranquil place that we can retreat to at the end of the working day. Try to be mindful of things that impede that tranquility, such as clutter. Electronic devices such as cell phones and laptops can be very invasive and can most definitely interfere with a sense of peace and relaxation.  Consider setting limits for dealing with emails and texts, for example, not past 8 p.m., or only if marked “urgent” and try to spend time together every day that is electronics-free.  Going for an evening walk or drive is an excellent way to decompress and lift the spirits after a day’s work,  and can also serve as a good time to talk.

Consider Enlisting Expert Help

Helping your loved one cope with stress can be stressful in itself!  Sometimes, we have to look outside for assistance.  If the situation does not seem to be improving, despite best efforts,  you might want to consider suggesting your partner connects with a trained therapist or coach.  Of course, professional help should complement the support you provide, not replace it.

When work stress comes home, the key thing is to ensure your spouse knows they’re not alone with their troubles, and that they have a supportive partner who is open to listening and willing to help.

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is becoming an increasingly important consideration when hiring new employees and evaluating the potential of existing ones.  Given that our EQ  can influence our success at work (and in our personal lives), it’s important to understand what it is.

There are many schools of thought as to how to  best describe EQ.  Usually, it is viewed as a combination of inter-personal and intra-personal capabilities and as having a number of elements or categories.   I like the four key pillars set out below, each with their own set of competencies:

The four key pillars of EQ*

  • Self-awareness: emotional self-awareness
  • Self-management: emotional self-control, adaptability, achievement orientation, and a positive outlook
  • Social awareness: empathy and organizational awareness
  • Relationship management: influence, coach and mentor, conflict management, teamwork, inspirational leadership

“Scoring” highly in each category will likely mean that you are reliable, engaged and diligent. As well, you will have a positive outlook, be empathic and get along with people.  You’re also a problem-solver who welcomes challenges, and tends not to complain.  This sounds like the ideal employee, doesn’t it?  However,  a high EQ is not a guarantee of advancement.

If you feel you have a high EQ, but seem unable to climb the corporate ladder it may be that, all other reasons aside,  you are viewing EQ too simply.  That’s because many of the positive aspects of EQ come with  corresponding challenges.  For example, a positive and supportive manager with a high EQ  may delay providing difficult feedback to a subordinate or avoid challenging a superior on a critical issue.  This tendency to avoid conflict and risk does not drive organizational change, and it can also limit creativity and innovation.  Clearly, that’s not good for business.  As well, this safe approach to managing relationships does nothing to shine a light on the  manager as a true leader, capable of making tough or even unpopular decisions, and deserving of advancement.

When considering your own EQ, use the four pillars above to help you evaluate your natural inclinations and work to enhance the areas you feel are holding you back.  For example, could it be that your strong sense of empathy  is preventing you from addressing the abrasive behaviour of a team member whom you know is dealing with personal troubles?  If  so, by strengthening your conflict management skills, you would feel better equipped and more confident to tackle the issue.

Now, let’s imagine that during that difficult conversation, your subordinate becomes angry and defensive. Before you know it, she makes accusations about your own short-comings. This would call for strong emotional self-control on your part to keep your own anger in check so you can stay focussed on resolving the  matter at hand.  You could also draw from your competencies in the realm of influence as you help your subordinate understand why their current behaviour cannot continue.  Clearly, the stronger you are in each of the competencies, the better able you are to manage a variety of situations and make a valuable contribution to your company.

Over the next few weeks, look within yourself and try to become more cognisant of your choices in situations.  Look for patterns in your thoughts and behaviours.  How do you choose to respond or not respond to certain opportunities or challenges?  You can also look outwards to your colleagues,  subordinates and peers for their insight through a 360º evaluation. These can be extremely valuable due to the anonymity provided and their ability to be brutally honest.  Whichever route you choose, work to  understand the key areas  that may be holding you back and  create a strategy to address them.

To find out more about how Forge Coaching and Consulting can help you develop a stronger EQ, or for information about any aspect of coaching please contact (1) 905 873 9393  or visit


*Source: More than Sound, LLC 2017

Every day we make thousands of decisions, most of which we barely acknowledge. What to eat for breakfast? Which clothes to wear? Which route to take to an appointment? But not all decisions are equal and many of the decisions we make in our personal lives and in business can have major implications. We have all made decisions we regret, so what can we do to ensure that bad decisions are a thing of the past? Understanding the main contributors to poor decision making can help — here we explain the five key issues:


Avoid making decisions based solely on emotion.

Emotions can influence us greatly in decision making so it’s important to acknowledge what you are feeling when considering your options. Ask yourself to name the emotion or emotions you are feeling. This will give you pause and help you avoid making a major decision in the spur of the moment based on frustration, fear, or some other emotion that may be clouding your judgement.


Analyse information but be sure to act!

We have all heard of the term analysis paralysis and it is indeed a real thing. Today, there is so much information available that it is easy to become overwhelmed with data to the point of continually delaying action as new information comes in. Business leaders must make sound decisions in a timely manner. Market opportunities, for example, may not be able to wait until all available information is in, because that may never happen. It’s important to recognize arriving at the point of “good enough”, as in “the information we have is good enough to make the decision”. Then make it and move on.


Don’t make decisions in a vacuum.

There are many situations in which business leaders may feel the weight of a decision rests solely on them, but several opportunities may have presented themselves to solicit input from subordinates, peers, and others along the way. When considering an important decision ask yourself if you have ensured that those likely to provide valuable input have had the opportunity to do so. In meetings, for example, ensure that you actively solicit information, rather than wait for it to be offered, otherwise valuable insight may never see the light of day.


Get rid of distractions and focus.

It may seem obvious, but it’s important to be able to focus properly on the decision at hand and not be distracted by other less important issues. Setting priorities is a key part of being productive and efficient, but it is never more important when a major decision needs to be assessed and made. Put all other issues out of your mind and focus. This may require disengaging from technology for a time in order to free up your mind to properly think.


Avoid making decisions when tired.

Of course, this may be easier said than done. How many of us are not tired at the end of a challenging working day? However, it’s never a good idea to make an important decision when you are truly exhausted or on the brink of burnout. Burnout is an official medical condition and it can absolutely impact our decision-making capabilities. If getting a good night’s sleep or taking a week off does not help you feel rejuvenated, try to avoid making important decisions until you have taken steps to recover.

At the end of the day, we are the sum of our major decisions. Where to go to school, what to study, whom to marry, whether to merge with company X, Y or Z, are all just a few of the types of decisions that can shape our lives. Understanding how to avoid making bad decisions will go along way to helping us make solid, informed decisions we can feel good about.

Burnout is a serious issue which the World Health Organization (WHO) now recognizes as a legitimate medical condition.   While it’s normal to feel very tired or stressed occasionally due to work, burnout is much more serious and should be recognized and treated as soon as possible. Below are the most common symptoms:

Exhaustion  —  feeling tired occasionally is perfectly normal, especially during busy or challenging times at work.  However, feeling tired all the time or most days is not normal and may progress to feeling physically and emotionally exhausted.  If you feel completely depleted and dread the thought of work, you may be experiencing burnout.

Insomnia —  many of us have trouble sleeping occasionally, but frequent difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep is a sign of trouble. Insomnia can be very difficult to overcome. Sleeping pills may not be the answer and it’s important you do not come to rely on them to get the sleep you need.

Fuzzy thinking  — what starts as difficulty focusing may evolve into being so unable to concentrate that you have trouble making even simple decisions,  determining priorities and completing tasks.

Physical symptoms — the mind and the body are inextricably linked and so it’s no surprise that burnout can make you feel physically unwell.   A tight chest,  heart palpitations, headaches, and stomach upsets are the usual culprits. Speak to your doctor if any of these symptoms persist or are severe.

Loss of appetite — missing a few meals on occasion can happen to any of us, but forgetting to eat or becoming uninterested in food is a sure sign of burnout.  A lack of good nutrition only adds to the physical aspects of burnout so it’s important to address unintentional weight loss and take steps to maintain a healthy weight.

More frequent illnesses — when your body is exhausted and especially if you are also not eating or sleeping properly, your immune system is weakened.  You may find you are more prone to colds and flu and even other more serious illnesses.

Depression — this is a very common symptom of burnout and can vary in degree from feeling sad to feeling overwhelmingly depressed, worthless and hopeless.   Depression is a serious mental health concern and you should seek professional help to feel better.

Anxiety — while we all feel anxious on occasion, chronic anxiety is a symptom of burnout which can cause us to feel edgy and tense and unable to cope with things that normally we’d have no difficulty with at work.

Anger —  at the early stages of burnout, you may find yourself irritable and that interpersonal relationships become tense. Later,  angry outbursts and serious arguments can occur, and not just at work.  This can destroy relationships and careers and must be addressed.  A professional counsellor can provide assistance.

Loss of enjoyment — this can start out with not wanting to go to work or being eager to leave, but it can extend into other areas of your life. Without intervention, you may find you don’t enjoy the things or people that once made you happy and fulfilled.

Pessimism — this can start with negative thoughts including negative “self-talk”  but can progress to trust issues with those around you. Eventually, you may feel that you cannot depend on anyone.

Detachment — feeling disconnected from others or your environment is a sure sign of burnout. Detachment involves removing yourself physically and/or emotionall from your job or other obligations and can result in calling in sick, not returning calls or coming in late to work.

If you are experiencing burnout, or feel you are at risk of burnout, it’s important to act quickly.  Professional help is available to treat this common issue and get you back on track.

Back to top