Stress Control Dynamic

Sep 11th, 2002 by Tony in QSM1

Every individual has a unique Pressure/Performance Curve, though all the curves have the same general curve. Moreover, it’s not the applied pressure that leads to the Pressure/Performance Relationship, but the perceived pressure. What motivates me to work a hundred hours a week may simply provoke you to yawn.

Physicists make this distinction by calling the applied pressure “stress” and the reaction of the system “strain”. Unfortunately, the medical and psychological literature doesn’t make this distinction and neither do many managers. They use the term “stress” for both applied and perceived pressure, which tends to confuse their understanding of the dynamics involving pressure. When you say “I’m under a lot of stress”, do you mean that a lot of pressure is being applied, or that you are reacting poorly to the pressure? Once we make the distinction between the situation and the reaction to the situation, we can begin to investigate some details of different reactions to applied pressure.

— Jerry Weinberg, Quality Software Management Vol 1, Chapter 16

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