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The Tiger in the Break Room

Adrenaline coursed through my body. I couldn't catch my breath. My palms were sweating and my vision narrowed to tunnel of sight directly in front of me. What on earth was happening?

The group of 40 people I was supposed to be presenting to looked at me strangely. I hadn't even started and it was already a disaster. How could I speak if I could barely breathe?

My first attempt at public speaking was indeed a disaster. The stress I felt was overwhelming. What was supposed to be a 20 minute presentation only lasted five. For my part, I was just glad it was over. Ironic that I now speak to groups on a regular basis.

Tiger in breakroom causes workplace stress

If you've ever been under a great deal of stress, you know that it puts your body in fight or flight mode. Biologically, we respond to public speaking the same way we might respond to finding a tiger in the break room. That's why one of the most important questions you can ask when you're under stress is, "Where is the danger?"

We go into fight or flight mode because we perceive danger. Workplace stress triggers the same response because our brains sense that we're in danger. It may be the danger of embarrassment, the danger of losing a job, the danger of rejection, or the danger of being eaten by a tiger on its coffee break. Identifying the perceived danger can go a long way to helping us manage the stress.

What danger are you facing? Are you fighting your body's urge to fight or flee? The Thrive Workshop can give you the tools you need to turn workplace stress into an opportunity to build resilience, trust, and capacity. Shoot me an email at to find out more.


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