From the heart: Show your colleagues some love using positive psychology!

Are you interested in increasing the well-being of your staff using a proven positive psychology technique? How about in giving money to a worthwhile charity’s campaign which could save lives? We have just the thing for you! “From the Heart” is a campaign to raise money for charity in February 2016 which can also benefit staff well-being and team relationships. It is simple and fun to do – everyone who wants to join in puts their name in a hat. On the allotted day – we’re choosing 15th February – everyone picks out a name, and writes them a piece of positive feedback, “from the heart” to raise that person’s well-being and positive emotion. Make it sing if you can – say something that you would like to hear yourself and would make you feel good. It’s like a Secret Santa, only your present is free and you can have a wonderful impact on that person. Taking part involves a donation of at least £1 and the money goes to charity. Here at Kade we are recommending the money is sent to the Mending Broken Hearts Campaign – research which is carried out at universities such as the University of Leeds and University of York. This project has the potential to save many lives through helping the heart regenerate. You can find out more about this exciting project here. The “To the Heart” campaign is an exercise in positive psychology, which aims to help people flourish. Many of these techniques are used to enhance emotional resilience and have contributed to lowering sickness absence and improving engagement in learning and work. Participating as a team can improve relationships and help everyone work together more effectively. When I’ve described this to people, one of the questions I have had is, “What if I get someone I don’t like?” For me, this is an opportunity to change the way you see that person. If they are not performing at their best in their role, is confidence their issue? If so, searching for the good in them can help them to build on their strengths and who knows, perhaps you will see some improvement? So if they are always late and poor at organisation, perhaps think about their flexibility. Will they do things at the last minute? Do they get upset when you change the plans? If they are not very task-focussed, think about their people-skills. Can they put people at ease? Do they know how to keep a conversation going? Regardless of whether their skills are entirely appropriate to their role, this positive psychology technique can help to make that person feel better about themselves, promote their self-esteem and identify opportunities for  you to help them use those skills to improve areas where they need development. This kind of activity is not new, for example it has been used on occasion in schools before, and the children held on to their positive messages, and they thought about these long after. When I tried this before, I kept my messages and they gave me a feeling of warmth each time. So why don’t we share this more often with our colleagues? Happiness is contagious…so after showing your love for your partner on Valentine’s Day, show a little love for your colleagues this coming February. Julie is an Occupational Psychologist with experience of working with organisations and individuals around the globe to effectively meet their unique challenges.

Workplace bullying: believing the bullied?

The current context of workplace bullying

Workplace bullying is an issue which is becoming better known and understood, but it seems that every news report on this says it is on the rise. This suggests that while we are becoming increasingly aware of this as an issue, we have not yet embedded the techniques that will address this adequately. A report from ACAS this week suggests that many inexperienced managers do not know how to deal with workplace bullying and do so incorrectly. This is a major barrier in organisations addressing this issue among employees. Given the cost of litigation in this area, avoiding the issue could be expensive, but it seems to me that our duty to address this issue goes beyond the financial. The effects of workplace bullying can have long legs, stretching into that person’s personal life and beyond their employment in a particularly toxic environment.  Symptoms can include serious mental health issues such as stress or depression. If we have compassion for our colleagues and work friends, surely we wouldn’t want this to happen under our very noses.

Victims of bullying aren’t always believed

Part of the problem can be believability. I remember a news article a few years ago in which a Personal Assistant claimed to have been bullied by colleagues who ignored and alienated her. After winning a large settlement, I recall friends and colleagues sneering, unwilling to believe that what she had been through could be worth such an amount, and insinuating that she simply “didn’t have what it takes” to work at such a high level. Those who stand up against the bullying of others can also find themselves in the firing line, and the Equality Act (2010) includes direct discrimination by association. This includes friends, family and colleagues, and hence anyone who might defend and support the bullied.

Keep an open mind

A former colleague in an advisory role once commented to me about the diverse range of disclosure from clients. She explained that on occasion she had felt they could not possibly be telling the truth; that surely that individual must have simply misunderstood or be exaggerating. Later, it so happened that in one of these cases, she was presented with firm evidence that the workplace bullying the person had described had in fact been true. This was a lesson in firstly keeping an open mind, but also a reminder that unless we have been through every moment with someone else, they will always know more about what happened than we ever could. If we act as advisers, coaches or managers, we may have the tools and skills to help a person deal with a situation in their lives, but they will always be an expert in their own life, and no-one has more information about that than they do. In relation to bullying, it is the perception of the person who has been bullied that is most important. If a person’s self-esteem seems to be reducing and they appear stressed, perhaps there is a reason for this. Unless we have hard evidence to contradict their account, who are we to judge? Julie Freeborn is an Occupational Psychologist with experience of working with organisations and individuals around the globe to effectively meet their unique challenges. If you’re experiencing issues with bullying within your organisation and would like to find out more about how we can help, please visit our managing bullying at work.  We’d be happy to have an informal, no obligation chat to discuss your particular circumstances. Want more content like this delivered to your inbox? Subscribe to our newsletter for our latest updates, articles and resources.