Workplace Stress

Is your workplace psychologically safe? This blog in the popular online press talks about some of the contributing factors to workplace stress. I thought I’d take some time to look over some of my experiences with how problems and dangers can slowly build up and accumulate within the business environment.

When I worked in the NHS there were a number of times my department would come together to discuss the implementation of changes within the organisation. Often this would involve sitting around a table and adding our thoughts as to what the new rules would look like within a real world context.

Rather than moving quickly into a retaliation position in response to these moves, my preference was always to take on a more accommodating stance.  Working in a publically owned environment is always challenging, and in my opinion its best to facilitate cooperation rather than opposition.

I very quickly learnt that there were a number of more introverted personalities in the group. From my point of view it is always best to create an atmosphere of involvement and participation from the word go in such a meeting. As time goes on the social divide between those active in a discussion and those who are feeling pushed out or left more on the verges of the conversation widens.

My solution to this was to provide a specific verbal invitation coupled with open body language to instantly involve the less forward members of the group. By creating a clear boundary around their social space and allowing them to add their own thoughts into the shared space, the competitiveness of the dynamic was dampened. This is a vital mechanism to creating a positive group atmosphere.

One of the dangers in the workplace is that those without the loudest voices and most expressive personalities can often feel side-lined by those able to effectively communicate. However, this is only one part of the picture. To accompany this policy there needs to be some kind of no blame culture where individuals know that they are free to speak their mind or offer an unformed opinion without criticism or slight.

With a no blame culture one of the side effects is that you may often be invited to re-think or at least re-evaluate your ideas. Part of this process is taking responsibility for your own feelings and emotions regarding such a request and managing to view the situation in a dispassionate and rational manner. This is important especially for those in positions of power and authority who need to act on feedback given from workers carrying out responsibilities in the workplace.

The antithesis of the no blame culture is one where responsibility is completely passed around from person to person. Something that we often see in the popular BBC TV show, The Apprentice, where buck passing and the ability to shoulder off excuses to another contestant almost seems to be a vital skill in winning the competition.

This has the opposite effect of creating a good workplace environment, where the boss must always feel powerful and therefore everyone else is inadequate. Such dynamics are inevitably a factor in bringing forward a stagnation in the workplace where everyone is afraid to try new things and innovate towards success.

CBT and ACT can help you cope with such workplace difficulties. If you are currently undergoing workplace stress, then why not take an alternative look at the situation with the help of our CBT service