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The Microstress Effect

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The Microstress Effect

Talks at Google

Talks at Google,

5 min read
3 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Tiny stressors can add up and get you down. Learn how top performers rise above them.

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In this Talk at Google, Rob Cross and Karen Dillon discuss the findings of their book, The Microstress Effect: How Little Things Pile Up and Create Big Problems – and What to Do about It. They delve into the harmful effects of microstressors: the small sources of modern-day stress that can accumulate to undermine your health and performance. The authors discuss strategies to manage microstressors, like prioritizing your well-being, limiting negative interactions and mitigating collaboration overload.


Microstressors are small experiences of stress whose cumulative effects can have profound adverse health effects.

People have no trouble dealing with the tiny, momentary stresses that come during the routine interactions of daily life – microstressors. But humans aren’t neurologically designed to face the sheer number and intensity of microstressors they encounter today. Microstressors can build up and ripple out to create harmful stress levels and overload, sapping productivity, energy and health. Combined, microstressors become like an anaconda, slowly squeezing out your vitality, productivity and joy.

Microstressors often create a cascade effect. Constantly shifting goals and responsibilities at work can significantly harm your performance and health. Some microstressors force you to work harder, distracting you from healthy activities and compromising your ability to deliver quality work. For example, when a manager changes your work tasks late in the day, a ripple effect...

About the Speakers

Rob Cross is professor of global leadership at Babson College. Karen Dillon has co-authored three books with Clayton Christensen and is the former editor of Harvard Business Review.

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