The Psycho-Physiologic Executive (3 of 4) Social Competence

The Challenges of The Business Life:

As a business professional, whether you are an intrepreneur or an entrepreneur, if your responsibility includes driving revenue for the organization, with imposed deadlines you are under a tremendous amount of stress.

Experiencing the emotional highs and lows of everyday business is life draining. Your failures bring about feelings of deprivation and self-condemnation. Your wins bring the stress of your new obligations of client fulfillment, and god forbid if you should loose one of your largest clients, and don't forget about any investors you have to answer to. It is important in such occasions to monitor your response to the stresses of the day, because the most important thing in your life is your health, once you loose it nothing else will matter.

We live in a time when American’s are under an unprecedented amount of stress. In survey after survey, with the amount of stress we, as Americans, are under it has been reported that stress is our number one health concern. More than 50% of adults in the U.S. report high stress on a daily basis. When we fail to respond constructively to stress it affects our health, business, and leadership performance.

Studies indicate that it is not stress that cause negative effects in our health, leading up to lifestyle diseases or psycho-physiologic illness, but how we respond to stress. If the chronic effects of stress are acquired by our emotional response to stress, than we can eliminate the lasting effects of stress by changing our behavior. Steps can be taken in the direction of healthful living through the study and application of principles related to emotional intelligence (EI).

In this small series (which I will post through out the next couple of days) I will take you through a few areas to get you started:

  • Psycho-physiologic relationship
  • Self-awareness; managing emotions through mindfulness
  • Social competence
  • Self motivation
 The Realization

We have moved from the age of 'it's lonely at the top' to the understanding that it takes all of us to make one of us successful. Whether we are attempting to succeed as a parent, as a husband or wife, or as a professional we need a community. It always has taken a community; hasn't it?

We live in a social world filled with our diverse associations from our businesses to our family and personal friends. We must acknowledge and deepen our sense of community especially as it relates to our support

The Call of The Entrepreneur

I know if you could do anything else for a living you would. The fear of failure, the fear of success, the stress that comes from broken expectations, the stress that comes from investors, the stress that comes with client fulfillment, the stress that comes with employee and customer turnover, or customer complaints is sometimes too much to endure; these stresses are the ones you face on a good day. Luckily I didn't mention the stress that your significant other brings when he or she complains that you are spending too many hours at the office or worse threatens divorce or separation. This is quite the life you have chosen, or should I say has chosen you.

The Call to Better Health

Realizing we are social creatures is a step in the right direction when it comes to stress management. Just as we were not created to succeed alone we were not created to bear our burdens alone. Regardless of how you feel about what you do, it is important that you become conscious of your response to stress for the betterment of your health. If you are doing things right than you will not only improve your health, but literally add years to you life.

The Power of a Conversation

It is through talking that we heal from those moments that we can't fathom going on. It's through the advice of a good friend that inspires or confirms us in challenging times, and alleviates the detrimental factors of stress on our lives. Mr. and Ms. CEO if you are not building up these types of relationships shame on you! A leader that doesn't handle stress well is not only bad for business, constituents, but detrimental to the health of everyone in his/her environment. Leadership always has a ripple effect.

A Lesson from Women

On average it is more natural in times of stress for women to reach out to their support system. It is more natural for men to want to mull it over or to be distracted in isolation. This is why on average women live longer than men; it is what their support group contributes to them emotionally and psychologically. This very act of creating a support system and using it adds years to their lives.

It is important that if you have difficulty doing this that you intentionally begin to engage and nurture these types of relationships and build a support system of your own.

Our Support System

Dr. Sheldon Cohen of Carnegie Mellon University added: The last area of focus in the study and practice of EI is what experts consider social intelligence or social competence. We can contribute to our physical health and well being by understanding the affects other people have on our health. Two types of social interaction exist that contribute to the health of individual’s social support and social integration.

According to Cohen (2004), the primary model considered by psychologists, especially those interested in intervention, has been stress buffering. This model asserts that social connections benefit health by providing psychological and material resources needed to cope with stress. The model predicts that social support is beneficial for those suffering adversity but does not play a role in health for those without highly stressful demands. Statistically, the stress-buffering model is supported by an interaction of stress and social support.

Social support refers to a social network’s provision of psychological and material resources intended to benefit an individual’s ability to cope with stress and social integration is defined as participation in a broad range of social relationships. It is a multidimensional construct thought to include a behavioral component—active engagement in a wide range of social activities or relationships—and a cognitive component—a sense of communality and identification with one’s social roles.

Stress is thought to influence health both by promoting behavioral coping responses detrimental to health (smoking, drinking alcohol, illicit drug use, sleep loss) and by activating physiological systems such as the sympathetic nervous system and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal cortical axis. Prolonged or repeated activation of these systems is thought to place persons at risk for the development of a range of physical and psychiatric disorders.

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