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How we treat our loved ones under stress

How we treat our loved ones under stress

To be honest, I must admit I am not proud of how I have sometimes treated loved ones while being stressed at work. It shocked me to realize, that I would never be as snappy or judgmental towards my manager or my colleagues, as I have been to people close to me. Having seen this behavior in other people under stress as well, this is post is really important for me to share.

The value in being fired

If you have ever been fired, you know that when it comes down to it,  you are simply another employee. One which can be replaced, should it ever become necessary from someone's point of view. Being fired once in my career, although initially painful and highly disappointing, was actually one of the best things that happened to me. Not only did I quickly transition to a new company which was a much better fit, it also made me reevaluate my priorities.


Not having your priorities straight (regardless of the circumstances), is unfair to your life partner, your children, your friends and yourself. They are the ones that will be there for you, when you really need someone by your side. Your line-manager or CEO almost certainly will not, unless they are exceptional people and managers. There's a reason why people often say: "Business is business."

The personal relationships we are lucky to call our own should always, and under any circumstances, enjoy our most sincere dedication. They have the highest intrinsic and enduring value. It is unfortunately all too easy to take this emotional support for granted and not act in alignment with what these people really mean to us.

Our personal relationships are obviously a lot more complex and essential than our work ones... So why then, have I caught myself acting the opposite, especially under stress? Possibly, because subconsciously one tends to feel more secure in these relationships.

Honor yourself and your loved ones

Honor yourself and your loved ones, by treating them according to the importance they have in your life. Then let everything else which is important in your life, take its place in the space that remains. Managing this shift is not easy and sometimes even feels impossible, but if we are honest with ourselves, it is important to make it happen.

These days I always carefully consider my priorities and how I split my time between them. Our family and loved ones deserve to have our full attention and energy when we spend time with them, not only the left overs after an exhausting day. From experience the time I spent with my son which was uninterrupted is really valuable to us both. Even a quick checking of an e-mail, while it may only takes 5 minutes, can feel as a huge distraction for a small child.

Working well... and fast

This is why it's essential to make sure you can do your work well, and do it fast. Play time with your children or a conversation with your loved or friends, is more rewarding for everyone, if you know that work is on track and it's not causing you any 'existential overhead'. (More on this concept in this post on 'Personal Kanban' coming soon.)

Many of the posts in this blog are driven by the need for a healthy balance between work success and personal fulfillment. I hope they enable you in some way, to establish or enhance both.

"My favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.” - Steve Jobs

Photo of young Steve Jobs with a pensative look

Steve Jobs photo by Photo Gidi on flickr
Title Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash

Erik Heirman

Erik Heirman

I believe technology should be at the service of society. I trust in agile methodology & principles, client centric innovation and design thinking.

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