Friday, August 24, 2012

Is your boss killing you?

Ah, the joys of being told how to do your job. Micromanagers are the bane of the workplace. These fretful souls are always the worse (and least respected) bosses. Unfortunately, they are all too common, like bad weather. But it's actually worse than that. When humans are subjected to danger or pressure or useless "advice" from bosses, the body secretes stress hormones that hike your heart rate and blood pressure while inhibiting other functions, like digestion. Over the long term, scientists say stress can diminish brain cells needed for learning, and contribute to obesity (due to the adverse way it distributes body fat). In short, stress can dumb you down, make you fat, and ultimately kill you. In effect, overly "helpful" bosses (who seem to be proliferating like rabbits) are making life "nasty, brutish and short" again. But things were better once. Stanford University neurobiologist Robert Sapolsky noted that if you were a normal mammal, what stress was really about was “three minutes of screaming terror on the savannah, after which either it’s over with or you’re over with.” Ah, the good old days -- brutish but healthier for the body. Plus there was the added comfort of knowing that fussy (and therefore indecisive) bosses always got eaten by the saber-toothed carnivore first.

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