April 15, 2019 at 10:00 pm #114102
A problem has been creeping up at work lately. I need help. I work in a retail store as a cashier and self-scan attendant (think a big box store). I mostly like my job and have been doing well; I’ve been there 2 years already and they seem to like me. It’s the only job I’ve ever had where I felt I belonged or like part of the team. I’ve gotten a lot of praise in this job.
My problem, because they recently cut everybody’s hours we are working with fewer people on-staff and are in our busy season; so that means more multi-tasking and being asked to be more adaptable/flexible and willing to take on more tasks (all thing I’m not super great at to start with). So all of this has me kind of stressed out, and I find that the busier we get and the more flexible I’m supposed be, the more easily I get stressed out and the more I get stressed out, the less composed I am. A couple times recently my boss has had to talk to me and tell me I need to “calm down.” This takes me aback because I feel like I am being perfectly calm and my voice isn’t raised. And this sort of criticism causes me to become very defensive, which creates a problem. A guest today accused me of cursing (I didn’t, but I said what the heck under my breath so I guess he thought I said the f word), and I was again told to “calm down.”
How can I work on not reacting to the chaos around me and staying calm, even though I’m in a stressful situation? How do I control my frustrations and not get “upset”; how do I stop being defensive?
Sorry if this is incoherent. I’m doing my best.
April 17, 2019 at 3:56 pm #114317
Adopting some stress management strategies can help. Learning to stay calm when things get chaotic is just one strategy.
ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Trainer & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism
April 20, 2019 at 8:25 am #114475
Hi MJ, it may take some time to adapt to the additional workload because you need to finish some things within a shorter time frame to fit in the new things you need to do.
What I learned from working in a kitchen is that you need to know roughly how long each task will take before you plan your multi tasking and what kind of tasks you can multi task based on your strengths and weaknesses at your experience level. Some tasks may not be suitable for multitasking personally if completing task a, b, c individually but quickly in a focused manner means you can still finish in an hour. For example, it’s not a life and death situation if I boiled a quick syrup (1min) then whisk some cream in the mixer (2min), but if I tried to do both, I may overwhisk the cream. However, my friend is an expert at multi tasking these things because she has a few years more experience than me.
How about having a chat with your boss about certain things you have difficulty juggling or doing. Maybe you are already good at your job at doing task A, B, C individually but when you have to do A+B+C+D it can be quite a rush. Not sure if your boss can offer some tips to complete it faster or smoothly within a shorter time frame. Sometimes when ad hoc things crop up, it can be quite stressful too, maybe having prompt questions for yourself can help you focus on finding a solution if nobody else is around.
It does take time to adapt, previously I may take up to a month or two because my previous job involved a job portfolio change every few months. Maybe you can try to voice any concerns with you boss such as a time frame to adapt and what are some ways you can handle multi tasking better.
I believe you are a valued employee who is trying your best. I also feel quite frustrated at my new workplace because I’m struggling every day and although my chef is giving me feedback that may be negative, I try to reply ‘thanks chef’ which dissapates some of the defensiveness I feel.
Other times, maybe a sip of water can help you take a 10s mental break because it’s really hard to focus on the 102 things you need to do by today. Like constantly thinking about what’s next.
I’m sure you’ll get better over time and ace it.
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