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The Psychology of Men and Masculinities: Interpersonal Competence at Work
10 CEUs Males: Interventions for Balancing a Work Addicted Workaholic Lifestyle

Section 11
Responsibility Factor in Workaholics

Question 11 | Test | Table of Contents | Addictions CEU Courses
Social Worker CEU, Psychologist CE, Counselor CEU, & MFT CEU

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On the last track we discussed male stress.  We discussed how stress is different for male clients.  Our discussion included physical signs of stress and how those physical signs of stress are perceived differently by women and men.  We also looked at symptoms of stress that generally appear to be unique to male stress.  We examined two types of stress symptoms regarding male stress.  Two types of stress symptoms are common symptoms and symptoms unique to men.

On this track... we will discuss the responsibility factor workaholic clients experience.  I find that different types of occupational positions can create different scenarios for stress.  I refer to this as the responsibility factor.  It is comprised of three main elements.  The three main elements of the responsibility factor are decision making, early assertiveness training, and specific stresses.  This track will identify four specific stresses.  The four specific stresses we will discuss are stress of anticipation, stress of visibility, stress of success, and stress of failure.

As you listen to this track, consider your male stress client.  Is he similar to Dan?  Could he benefit from hearing how Dan’s stress affected him?

3 Elements of the Responsibility Factor

Share on Facebook #1  Decision Making 
First, let’s discuss decision making.  Taking control over decision-making cannot be avoided if a client wants to be successful in any job or profession—even more so if the client is like Dan.  Dan, age 41, was in business for himself.  With Dan, it appeared that decision-making was a sign of striving for success.  Would you agree that decision-making reflects goal-oriented thinking and the self-reliant behavior taught to boys at their parents’ knees?  

Expectations turn into self-fulfilling prophecies, as parents and other adults begin to treat boys in a way that is consistent with their expectations.  Although these expectations are slowly changing, culturally parents are still less protective of their sons than of their daughters, implicitly teaching their sons that they had better be independent and self-reliant.  Would you agree that many parents still tend to compliment their sons on strength and size rather than on looks and good manners? 

Share on Facebook #2  Early Assertiveness Training
Early assertiveness training takes place in society as teachers and parents are found to tolerate more aggressiveness from boys than from girls, and fathers permit more boasting, assertiveness, and competition in their sons.

Of course many boys are usually bounced, pounced, roughed up, and tumbled down.  They are taught to "take it."  They are told: "Put up or shut up." "Talk is cheap." "Fight your own battles." "Get out there and win." "Make us proud of you."

From Little League to the big leagues is a short jump.  The message is the same: "Don’t let the team down. We’re counting on you."- the more prominent the player, the more pressure to perform.  At first, Dan stated, "I performed for my parents.  Later, for my friends.  Now I’m trying to perform for myself."  But for Dan, performance for himself did not diminish performance pressure.  In fact, living up to his own demands became Dan’s most stressful experience of all and the basis of his workaholic life style!

At work, Dan had not only internalized early expectations for achievement, assertiveness, and reward, but he had added messages of his own.  Dan stated, "I choose goals and grade myself continually.  Whether it’s profit, expansion, number of clients, degrees or awards, or personal computers or Palm handhelds, they just become symbols of a quest."  Think of your Dan.  Is winning more important than the win itself for your client?   Does each success mean a new, higher goal must be set?  Dan summarized when he stated, "No man ever wants less than he has become used to, although that is usually more than he needs."
Share on Facebook #3  Specific Stresses
Third, in addition to decision making and early assertiveness training, let’s discuss specific male stresses.  We’ll look at four specific stresses.  The four specific stresses are stress of anticipation, stress of visibility, stress of success, and stress of failure, that contribute to a workaholic life style.

Since Dan’s stress seemed to decrease as his sense of control increased, he felt that having choices and making decisions should lead to fewer stressful experiences and symptoms.  Dan asked, "Why, then, am I highly stressed?"  How might you have responded to Dan?  I stated, "The answer is the "responsibility factor."

The stress of constant rising expectations is matched by constant rising responsibilities at work. The more your business grows, the more stress comes with it.  You may be credited with the gains, but the losses are yours also.  With added control over planning comes the added responsibility for strategic decisions.  This is the key to what is often called "executive stress."  Here are the specific stresses that go hand-in-hand with increased responsibility:

1. First is the stress of anticipation.  The consequences of each of Dan’s decsions grew with the magnitude of each decision.  Dan stated, "I have to try to cope with and consider more possible hitches and glitches than anyone else I know!  I can’t help falling asleep worrying about tomorrow’s fallout from today’s decisions!"

2. Next is the stress of visibility.  The more important or far-reaching Dan’s decision, the more questions about him were usually asked and answered.  Dan stated, "You can’t remain private if the decisions you must handle have consequences for others!"

3. Third is the stress of success.  Every success set new standards for Dan’s performance, not only in the eyes of others, but in his eyes as well.  With successes come new tasks and responsibilities.  As quotas go up, so does stress.

4. Finally is the stress of failure.  Not every decision Dan made achieved its intended effect.  Dan stated, "At lower levels of a company’s hierarchy, a less-than-successful decision-maker might be given a chance to learn from his mistake.  At my level, the policy is more likely to be identifying responsibility for unsuccessful decisions and eliminating the potential for costly mistakes by eliminating the decision-maker!  My investors won’t support me if I make bad decisions consecutively." 

Think of your workaholic client.  Are specific stresses from the responsibility factor effecting your client?  Could the techniques on the following tracks benefit your client?

On this track... we discussed the Responsibility Factor.  The Responsibility Factor is comprised of three main elements.  The three main elements of the Responsibility Factor are decision making, early assertiveness training, and specific stresses.  This track also identified four specific stresses.  The four specific stresses we discussed were stress of anticipation, stress of visibility, stress of success, and stress of failure.

On the next track we will discuss Type A Personalities.  Five characteristics of the Type A Personality that we will discuss on this track are competitiveness, impatience, perfectionism, polyphasic behavior, and hostility.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Catano, V. M., & Morrow Hines, H. (2016). The influence of corporate social responsibility, psychologically healthy workplaces, and individual values in attracting millennial job applicants. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science / Revue canadienne des sciences du comportement, 48(2), 142–154.

Mueller, K., Hattrup, K., Spiess, S.-O., & Lin-Hi, N. (2012). The effects of corporate social responsibility on employees' affective commitment: A cross-cultural investigation. Journal of Applied Psychology, 97(6), 1186–1200. 

Schmitt, A., Den Hartog, D. N., & Belschak, F. D. (2015). Is outcome responsibility at work emotionally exhausting? Investigating employee proactivity as a moderator. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 20(4), 491–500.

What are four specific stresses regarding male clients and the responsibility factor? To select and enter your answer go to Test.

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