During a recent conversation with a psychologist friend, we discussed the tendency of many people to falsely trigger their basic fight or flight instincts — the defense mechanism that helps us avoid danger or confront it. Falsely triggering this response typically manifests itself in being “stressing out over little things,” “blowing things out of proportion” and dwelling on problems rather than looking for a solution.

To avoid this unnecessary stress, she often counsels people to become more aware of their situations and to determine what can be handled less stressfully. To oversimplify her advice: She tells people they need to identify their problem and why it is bothering them, react to the situation in a healthy manner — slam a drawer, mutter a few choice words, even cry — and then to solve the problem or move on.

This month’s cover story is our attempt to do just that for building service contractors when it comes to the touchy topic of unionization. We have seen BSCs become quite upset when discussing union- organizing campaigns in their areas. Often, the people most upset are those who have heard horror stories and are anticipating which of them will befall their company as the union enters their market.

Unionization can be a very scary endeavor for contractors and it is accompanied by a wide range of emotions if a union takes public potshots at your company. But many contractors have survived organizing campaigns in their areas and have gone on to prosper — with or without the union involved in their companies. Since some contractors currently are concerned about the Service Employee International Union’s continued organizing campaigns across the country, we talked to labor experts and industry veterans who have been through the experience to find out what BSCs need to know to best handle the situation. Hopefully, through education, contractors will better understand what to reasonably expect and be able to better focus on running their businesses than on running from the union.