Chef Stress2

Stress Makes People Stupid

“A management consultant once said; stress makes people stupid… when emotionally upset, people cannot remember, attend, learn or make decisions clearly” (Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence, Bloomsbury, 1996).

Stress is an intrinsic part of fine dining kitchens, its effects can push people to strive for more and push themselves harder. Stress can be a thrill, a rush which can be motivating and even self-empowering. However this type of stress is rarer than the more common form experienced in kitchens.

In his 2007 book entitled The 33 Strategies of War, Robert Greene talks about how we see ourselves as rational creatures as opposed to emotional ones, separated from animals by our ability to think and reason. However he argues that in addition to these two factors we are separated by our ability to laugh, to cry, to feel a range of emotions. Greene makes a good point by saying that we maintain this illusion of rationality by engaging in daily routines which keep us in control, however throw us into an adverse situation and our rationality disappears.

The key point here is that the stress itself must be managed rather than overlooked or purposefully ignored. The goal is always to improve the quality of food produced and flow of service; surely this can be enhanced by ensuring the team is performing to its optimum level.

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