Relieving stress during tourist season
December 12, 2007
Creator and Director of diamondpoint coaching, David M. Hoza, says he knows about dealing with stress in the workplace.
Hoza worked as a server and manager for various restaurants and other businesses in Park City for 11 years. He said he also studied books on psychology and stress management and started applying the techniques he was learning in the workplace. This recently led him to complete an Associates Degree in psychology from Salt Lake Community College, where he was able to put together a presentation for business owners and corporate managers to help better manage stress in the workplace. He presented his second workshop in Park City last Monday, where he offered numerous tips to employees and managers for dealing with stress during the busy holiday season and the equally hectic Sundance Film Festival. Hoza is in the process of writing a book about his experiences, titled Stress in the Workplace: Ten Years in the Park City Restaurant and Hospitality Industry.
"I worked in the hospitality industry until 2006," Hoza said. "I’ve always had a double-duty role I don’t think it makes sense not to listen to feedback from your employees."
Hoza has worked for many high-stress restaurants and businesses in Park City as a server and manager, including the Baja Cantina, Ciseros, Red Rock brewpub, Loco Lizard, the Gateway restaurant in Kamas and Mountain Express Food Delivery, which handles takeout orders for more than 30 restaurants in Park City. He moved to Park City after graduating with an English and History degree from the University of Houston in 1996 and admits, while he has enjoyed his jobs in the hospitality industry, there was always a high level of stress in each working environment that often went unaddressed by management or his co-workers. He said most employees do not realize they are under stress when they are faced with it for an extended period of time and can often become dependent on substances like alcohol or drugs in order to cope with their problems. That can lead to poor self-esteem, he said, which can cause more stress, as well as serious health problems.
"Self-esteem is huge in a high-stress environment," Hoza said. "Research shows that employees or nurses suffering from burnouts say their biggest complaint is they are not respected by their employers. Some people are rude, but no one has done a systematic analysis of the workplace and talked about defensive-reactive behavior, which is common in the service industry."
After doing his own research and earning his psychology degree, Hoza said he has adopted and practiced several stress management techniques proven to reduce stress and make a worker’s day go smoother.
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One of these strategies is visualization, or a type of meditation one practices every day for three weeks. When someone is working in a "stressful climate," Hoza calls it, he advises them to come up with a specific visualization in their mind of themselves coming up with a solution to the problem and feeling at ease during a particular situation. He said this type of visualization becomes like a fire drill in a person’s psyche so that, when faced with a stressful situation in real life, they can immediately draw upon the techniques they have trained their mind to perform to get through the event with greater ease.
"Visualization is where you visualize what you want to be today or tomorrow," Hoza explained. "It’s a very powerful technique. But we tend to react on a verbal or emotional level. We need to think of how powerful dreams are."
During his first morning presentation, Hoza coached a female Park City restaurant manager, who prefers to be anonymous, about what she could do to avoid a burnout or a meltdown in the restaurant she manages, where she faces many stressful situations.
Hoza said most Type-A personalities, like this restaurant manager, thrive on stress to get their work done effectively. However, he said, ignoring or even welcoming stress can lead to long-term health problems, including heart diseases or other issues, including premature death, termination of employment or burnout.
He coached the restaurant manager to visualize herself walking into the restaurant from her car to the entrance each day, feeling the peace she feels while she is doing something relaxing, like yoga, for example, for three weeks. He encouraged her to think of times when she has been successful at overcoming problematic situations and encouraged her to draw from those experiences every time she faces something negative or stressful. He said, the more people practice this technique, the easier it becomes for them to get through the next stressful situation they encounter.
Another strategy Hoza presented that he said is particularly effective for hotel or restaurant managers that face disgruntled or angry customers, is putting one’s self in a "bell jar," or trying to remember to not take things personally. By visualizing one’s self in a "bell jar," Hoza said, the person will be able to hear a message someone is sending to them and maintain ample distance from them in order to avoid letting any negative emotions in while a person is venting.
Hoza shared these ideas and others with the manager while he was coaching her during the presentation.
He said, while it is difficult for some managers or owners of businesses to swallow the idea of taking advice from a server, Hoza said he is only trying to offer solutions for a smoother working environment. He hopes to help the already flourishing and high-end hospitality industry in Park City to improve.
"The industry is not receptive because of power issues. People are resistant to change," Hoza said. "People have traditions. We’re very traditional here in Park City. But, if I can offer you a storehouse full of tools, you can draw upon those tools to use in different stressful situations."
Hoza plans to complete his stress management book sometime next year, and will be posting manuscripts of the first few chapters on his Web site, starting in January. Those interested in learning tips or suggestions from someone who has studied and managed stress in Park City’s workforce for more than 10 years might be interested in reading his book, because it draws from specific stressful experiences Hoza has encountered in the hospitality industry, as well as various solutions for the personality conflicts people confront everyday.
Hoza will be attending the University of Utah next month to earn his degree in environmental studies. He now lives in Salt Lake but used to live in Kamas in a home that was not on the power grid for about 10 years, he said. Hoza used to use a generator and Coleman lamps for lighting and other natural resources for power, including an ice chest for a refrigerator. Hoza said this experience helped him go without the certain comforts that have been made readily available by American culture and further solidified his beliefs and theories about stress relief and meditation for stress management.
Hoza also hosts a blog titled "Stress in the Workplace," on his Web site which he says allows managers to view their peer’s perspectives on stress and find direct links to reviewed applied psychology and hospitality research for how to deal with stress effectively. He also offers in-house stress management presentations for local businesses’ or restaurants’ owners, managers and employees. The fee is $10 per person.
He plans to offer stress awareness and management presentations twice a year, at the beginning of summer and the beginning of winter.
Participants who attend receive a stress management "competency card." For more information, visit http://www.diamondpointcoaching.com or call David Hoza at 801-608-5295.