Corrections or additions?
These articles by Kathleen McGinn Spring and Barbara Fox were prepared for the July 3, 2002 edition of
U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
A Little Knowledge Is Good for Stress
Knowledge reduces stress. This according to
Ann Kokinda, a clinical social worker, who advises workers that
a little research may cut way down on job-related stress.
Kokinda, who is in private practice in Whitehouse Station (908-534-0199),
leads a workshop for social workers seeking to teach clients how to
cope with stress on Thursday, July 11, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
on the Livingston campus of Rutgers University as part of that university’s
continuing education program. Cost: $80. Call 732-445-3178.
There are all kinds of knowledge, and in any form knowledge tends
to be a stress reducer — especially self-knowledge. Kokinda went
to business school after graduating from high school, because she
could not afford to attend a four-year college. Working as a secretary
at Johnson & Johnson, she had the self-awareness to realize that she
was not living up to her potential.
"Not living up to your potential, that is a big cause of unhappiness
at work," she says. Many may mask this unhappiness in complaints
about the boss, the structure of the company, or the workload, but,
says Kokinda, if you are not feeling challenged, consider that you
may not be using all of your skills. Maybe it’s time to move up to
the next level.
That is what Kokinda did. She continued her education, receiving a
bachelor’s in psychology from Rutgers in 1988 and an MSW in 1992.
She then went on to complete the 1,920 hours of practice — at
Hunterdon Medical Center — necessary for certification as a clinical
social worker before she was able to start her own practice. It was
a long road, she says, but well worth the effort.
While knowing herself, and obtaining the knowledge that allowed her
to live up to her potential at work, was a long process for Kokinda,
even a little knowledge can make a big difference on the job.
"Ask for a copy of your job description," Kokinda suggests
as the answer to a lot of stress. A top worker complaint — and
cause of everything from on-the-job tantrums to migraines, and worse
— is simply an unworkable workload. In many cases, she says, it
turns out that the secretary or vice president or attorney is spending
time — maybe lots of time — on tasks that are not really his.
Just asking to see that job description can clear things up, and open
the way for a discussion of who should be filling out those expense
reports that are making late nights a routine.
If there is no job description, suggests Kokinda, write one. Go over
it with your supervisor, and if he or she agrees it looks about right,
do not accept any tasks not included in the description.
While this sounds easy, Kokinda acknowledges that it can be anything
but. Here are her suggestions for getting to the point where a straightforward
approach like this is possible:
lies just below the surface of work problems. If you do not believe
that you deserve interesting work, a reasonable work schedule, or
the respect of your superiors and co-workers, chances are you are
not going to get any of the above. "It’s a process," says
Kokinda. Getting to a position of strength that allows you to stand
up for yourself can take time, but is well worth the effort.
go along, to keep the boat from rocking. When there are problems at
work, most people, says Kokinda, "just hope they will go away."
While that is a hopeful position, it rarely works. "All the while
the boat is rocking," she says. Add one or two more unreasonable
demands, rude remarks, or stacks of paper in the in-box, and the boat
Better says Kokinda, is to speak up right away, before a pattern of
unmeetable deadlines, cubicle mates partying while you try to work,
or cuts in support staff have you ready to jump overboard. Letting
bad work situations go has roughly the same effect as ignoring a child’s
bad behavior 10 or 12 times. By the time the 13th infraction occurs,
there is a tendency to fly at him like a demon possessed, accomplishing
pinned to the wall, is a supervisor or underling in no mood to make
changes that will make you happy.
Don’t blame, just express your problem, being sure to start as many
sentences as possible with "I." It is not that he is a bad
manager or a bad assistant, it is that you need guidance on how to
prioritize or, for some odd reason, are finding it difficult to concentrate
when he screams over the phone at his many girlfriends.
time for a heart-to-heart. "Timing is important," she says.
"Don’t run up to someone first thing in the morning." Wait
for that caffeine to kick in and then present your case. The knowledge
you take away from the conversation may make all the difference, and,
says Kokinda, at the very least, it will make you feel better.
When bonus checks dwindle, moonlighting comes to mind.
But where to find a job that will pay money and also be a change of
pace. Here’s one — be an umpire.
If you played a sport in high school or college, you could contact
the recreation league for that sport to sign up for umpiring duties.
You may need to take a course or pass a test, says
who has taken just such a course of action and who now offers just
such a course.
Take field hockey, for instance, as Maloney did. Even if field hockey
was not your sport, you can train to be an umpire. "If you’re
at least 18 years of age, can be fair and impartial, enjoy exercising
outdoors, and your schedule is such that you can work some afternoons
after school hours, you could earn hundreds of dollars working only
an hour or two a day," says Maloney. Some amount of experience
with field hockey, soccer, or other team sports is helpful but not
Maloney runs a four-night course from Monday to Thursday, July 15
to 18, from 6 to 8 p.m., followed by practice umpiring sessions at
a field hockey camp at the College of New Jersey. The $41 course fee
includes classroom instruction, practice umpiring sessions, training
materials, and rulebook. High school age field hockey team captains
may audit the course for $20.50 and are encouraged to attend. For
information call Maloney at 609-730-1095 or E-mail CJM@schoolSTAFF.com
Prospective umpires would make up the cost of the course at their
first game. In the first year an umpire typically earns $41 per game
when working a game with someone else, but if you are working alone
you earn $61.50. First year "cadets" umpire games below the
level of varsity. "After you take the course and begin umpiring,
you are rated by experienced umpires," says Maloney. Varsity games
pay about $55 a game.
Maloney was a track and field star at Moorestown High and was attracted
to field hockey as a team sport at Westchester University (Class of
1978). Only in United States and Canada do women outnumber men in
this sport, he points out. "Women have played field hockey for
180 years, men for 5,000 years. And it absolutely can be a coed sport.
People of all ages and sizes can participate safely together."
He points out that, unlike soccer, field hockey develops eye-hand
Enamored with this new sport, Maloney played men’s club hockey on
the East Coast and practiced with the women on the Westchester team,
coached by a former Olympic coach. He played on the Olympic level
at the USOC Olympic Festival in 1982 and coached in later years. A
certified instructor, he has been coach, sectional umpire, regional
director and coach for the United States Field Hockey Association’s
Futures program, and is the founder of the Garden State Games Field
Maloney moved to Princeton so his wife could teach at Princeton Day
School and he worked on the Dow Jones campus with Dow Jones Interactive.
Now he is a real estate agent with the Princeton REal Estate Group.
"The best part about umpiring is that when you have done the job
well, you have made the game fair for all combatants," says Maloney.
"I particularly like umpiring young people because you get an
opportunity to modify their behavior. But when you walk off the field,
people say, `That was a good game,’ and no one says, `Wow, that was
a good umpire.’"
— Barbara Fox
A Philadelphia-based arts organization, Dance Advance,
offering a funding tip to arts organizations, points out that federal
support for arts and culture can be found "lurking in unlikely
places." Though an arts organization would normally apply to the
National Endowment for the Arts, these departments might also be tapped:
the departments of Housing and Urban Development, the Forest Service,
the Department of Energy, and the Department of Transportation. Information
is available at 188.8.131.52:591/federal-opportunities02/b-federal
Additional funding opportunities are available at the website of this
organization (www.danceadvance.org), a program of the Pew Charitable
Trusts and Drexel University (215-732-9060).
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