Tina Lamsback

Dear WiseCat,

There is this girl in my class who is very intense. All she does is ask questions, look stressed and nervously discuss schoolwork. My class has a group assignment coming up, and I have to work with her. How do I stop her stress from rubbing off on me?


Stressed Sally

Dear Stressed Sally,

I’m not saying the “stressed student” is a horrible person to be friends with, but sometimes she just needs to locate her inner zen and calm down. Most likely, she knows what she’s doing in the class, but she just needs a little reassurance.

Maybe she does arrive extremely early to class in order to get the front seat. And, yes, the teacher can see her immediate signs of distress when she hears words such as test, quiz, midterm, final or essay. The signature phrase from her mouth might ring in the ears of her peers, “Wait, when is that due?” The teacher gives the answer as the “stressed student” furiously writes down every detail in her planner.

Now, don’t jump to conclusions and think I am degrading the intelligence of a student. And by no means am I saying that asking questions is a bad thing to do in class. I ask questions. However, a message to the “stressed student” – do not have the signs of distress permanently on your face. Although you might not understand what is happening in class, by being that distracting you will become more of a burden than a help during a project.

So, how do you deal with uncertainty and stress during class? Simply, listen to the professors when they speak. Let them tell you what is due. Let them explain what you need to do. Then work it through yourself. If you have questions, ask them, but do not act like the world might end every time you ask a question. Be clear and to the point.

Back to the issue at hand. If you are going to be in a group with this girl, you must observe her first. Understand how she works. Talk to her and let her understand how you work when in a group or class setting. The purpose of this would be so that your wires don’t cross and that you can communicate effectively without stress.

Lastly, if you have had a previous unsuccessful experience working with your classmate during another project, then maybe you should talk to your professor about the possibility of being in a different group. See what the teacher says and express your concern. Usually, the teacher will work with you, and you just might be placed in a different group.