Are you ever stressed at work?

That was a trick question. We are all stressed at work, in ways so fundamental that we do not even recognise them.

Work is a deeply unnatural social environment. People are actually very good at coming together to help each other to achieve a common purpose. When this is a voluntary process, the natural stresses and strains that are involved in getting on with a lot of other people are dealt with by a few million years’ worth of evolution of the subtle social behaviours that enabled our ancestors to do exactly that: to form effective, and quite large, social groups.

But when it is an artificial process – when, for example, people at work are introduced to a large group of strangers and told that these strangers are now their ‘colleagues’ and that one particular person is now their ‘boss’, then funny stuff happens in our brains.

Read More