Bullying is commonly identified with the abuse of visible power. We close our eyes and we see the image of a big aggressive character bearing down on a little guy in a threatening manner.

In the workplace context, this translates into other familiar images of bullying –  always from above. On a Dubai building site, it might be a large group of workers ganging-up on a smaller group. On a UK factory floor, it might be a foreman picking on some nervous victim who can’t bring himself to retaliate. In boardrooms everywhere, victimisation may take more subtle forms, less violent but no less hurtful, with endless opportunities for a bully-boy director to use his seniority. And of course, bullying with a sexual or racial slant has been attracting much media attention all over the world. But whatever the image of bullying, it always suggests a downward impact from a position of physical or hierarchical power. Continue reading


Learn How to Manage Your Anger

How many times do you feel angry but don’t know why?  How often do you become aggressive and say things you don’t really mean, and then feel upset and guilty afterwards?  Similar events happen to most of us, at some time, and we fail to understand the reasons.

Very often, the answer has to do with excessive pressure that has caused you stress, which has turned to anger as you realise that you appear to have lost control of the situation. Then you take that anger and frustration out on others around you.  Sometimes that may be your family, or if at work, your colleagues

Low self-esteem, in addition to stress, can also be at the heart of an angry outburst.  You may not identify this factor and it is only when you start to suffer the consequences of that low self-worth that you may start take a close look at the root cause within yourself.

Becoming angry is just one way that low self-esteem manifests itself in your behaviour. “Why me? It’s not fair!” is a common angry outburst for those suffering from low self-esteem and a feeling of often being the victim in certain circumstances.

When we become angry, we become consumed with perceived injustice, and then we lose our focus on what really matters.  At work, we may feel as if we are being picked-upon, and in our personal relationships we may see fault in others where none really exist. It is as if we are seeing life through a red haze – a haze that is, in fact, anger.

Continue reading


Great Success on National Stress Awareness Day

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Author of Show Stress Who’s Boss

We are now at the end of the 2016 National Stress Awareness Day campaign where we had a great turnout from the International Stress Management Association [UK] regions and also from around the world.

We are still gathering in all the data together but it was difficult to keep track of all the media coverage including OK magazine; the Director journal; the Daily Telegraph; Radio BBC Scotland, Dilse radio and 5 Live –  to name just a few that reported on NSAD activities.

During a 30 day period, the NSAD twitter hashtag had over 180,000 tweets and retweets and the hashtag was trending for some hours on Twitter on the Day. Our Facebook page doubled its LIKES and our LinkedIn page increased its reach.

                        "Well done team NSAD."

With countless events being organised and delivered by members and non-members alike, 2016 was certainly a year to remember. Continue reading


Business Relationships

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4 Easy Ways to Deal with Stress

Is there someone in your office with whom you find it challenging to deal? Is your life at work being harmed by a difficult relationship? That difficulty could be with a colleague, a business partner, a manager, director, customer or supplier. You may be spending time at night worrying about it; thinking about it constantly and/or discussing it with colleagues, husband or wife.

It is often said that we cannot choose our family and therefore need to learn how to manage our relationships with them – and the same applies to those at work. If a particular individual is not to our personal liking – for any reason – then because we do not have the luxury of walking away, we need to find a basis upon which to communicate. We all have a job to do and we need to be able to communicate well with everyone in our team. That still applies even if you are a sole practitioner, as you will need to communicate politely with clients/ customers, who you may not like, for otherwise you will have no business! Continue reading


Would You Work for Nothing?

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Author of Show Stress Who’s Boss

Of course, there are many people who do work for no money.  They are termed voluntary workers, or volunteers and there are countless such individuals who take on and enjoy that role.  Their satisfaction is derived from helping others and not from any financial reward. The reward that makes a difference to the life of another human being is enough for them.  However, there is a debate as to whether people really do things for purely altruistic reasons or whether there is also an inner benefit for themselves.

I remember when I worked in the evenings as a volunteer for the Samaritans (an international crisis helpline), for over 20 years, that the satisfaction I received in helping someone in a personal crisis, far outweighed any remuneration.

Job Satisfaction Survey

This week, I was sent a survey into job satisfaction and the results showed that money does not necessarily bring happiness.  One in ten workers said they ‘loved’ their job so much that they would do it for nothing and researchers discovered that 11% claim they would carry on working even if they were not paid! One in eight of those in poorly paid jobs said they were very happy in their work, compared with just nine per cent of higher earners. It was also interesting to read that this study, which polled more than 8,000 workers including 1,968 in Britain, found that younger workers were apparently the least happy.

So where are you on the ‘job satisfaction’ scale?  Well, I guess you will say that you can’t love your job all the time and of course you are right. There will be tasks you enjoy doing and things you don’t. That is the nature of our day-to-day job. The question is, are you generally happy, overall?  Do you have a ‘spring’ in your step when you go to work or do you have to pull yourself out of bed as you reluctantly have to face another day at the office?  An interesting question. 

Now I can already hear some of you saying that satisfaction is a nice to have but not a necessity and of course the job needs to get done, whether you like it or not.  But think of how much more efficient and enjoyable your role would be if you really loved what you do – which reminds me of the well-known line from The Prophet by Khalil Gibran, which says, ‘work is love made visible’.

And then whose responsibility is it to try and encourage their employees to love their work rather than just having to ‘get through it’?  I would argue that this is a joint responsibility. The employer who doesn’t value the individual who works for them and makes that clear to them, will probably not have an employee who feels happy in what they do.  After all, we all usually like to think that we are doing a good job.  On the other hand, there is the employee who is always complaining about their work but never takes any action to try to improve their situation. The result is a dysfunctional workplace in which both the employer and employee contribute to a work environment that is counter-productive and expensive in terms of efficiency and health and which invariably results in competitive disadvantage.

If you are that employer, then what can you do about it?  Well, you can do nothing and accept the status quo or you can make a decision to find out by taking a ‘satisfaction survey’ of all staff members and employees throughout your organisation to determine how everyone feels about their individual job. The imperative for any business is to get the most out of all those who work for you, on any level.

As an employee, you should take responsibility for what you do and don’t like about your job.  Assess each point carefully and see what changes could be made; what support you might need and what training would be helpful; then start to implement those changes.

We don’t go through our lives always being happy.  Sometimes, we have to make happiness find us. We need to take action to gain the maximum satisfaction for, and from, our lives.

Key Points

  • An efficient organisation has a satisfied workforce
  • Your human resource is your most important resource
  • Value those who work for you and they will work twice as hard

Written by Carole Spiers and reprinted with the kind permission of Gulf News.



Can you ‘Think Outside the box’?

‘Thinking outside the box’ is more than just a business cliché. It means approaching problems in new, previously unused ways; confronting situations differently and understanding your position in relation to any particular challenge in a manner you had never thought of before.

We are frequently told to do just that but you may wonder as to why this might be helpful. You may have completed a specific task many times in a certain way – so why the need to change?

You may also have been told to ‘think laterally’. Maybe you are so firmly ‘inside a particular box’ that you are completely unaware of this position. So let us apply some creative thinking. In a commonly used English phrase, ‘there are more ways to skin a cat’ meaning that there is usually more than one solution to any given problem. But, and here is the point, one has to have an open mind and a willingness to learn from others and not to take any critique as a personal criticism of you, but rather as constructive and creative feedback.

Confronting problems in a different way

So how do you confront problems in a different way and why should it be necessary to ‘think outside of the box’ anyway?

The key is to identify the ‘box’ in any given situation i.e. the often comfortable constructs that determine your operating boundaries, both physical and mental i.e. those which are real and those which are merely restricted by mindset. Then think about alternatives, and sometimes an unconventional solution that before you would not have even considered.

When one is faced with a challenging problem, it is all too easy to focus on the specific facts and the ‘obvious solutions’ without making the effort to take yourself into another zone of thinking in which alternative, and possibly more advantageous, solutions are suggested. In order to ‘think outside of the box’, one must ‘brainstorm’ every possibility – even those that you would normally dismiss, because from those, other ideas can emanate, take shape and provide beneficial and/or profitable solutions. Continue reading


Stressed? When a Headache Becomes a Heart Attack!

'Show Stress Who's Boss!' provides tools and strategies that will show you how to deawl with stress.
Discover 4 Easy Ways to Beat Stress Today!

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Two weeks ago, it was the UK’s World Mental Health Day and despite the considerable publicity that is given to mental heath on this day, and also throughout the year, the topic is still, too often, a taboo subject.    We know from medical professionals that those suffering from anxiety and other mental health issues need to seek help as soon as possible before permanent damage is allowed to occur and that any delay in diagnosis and treatment, due to social stigma regarding the subject, needs to be avoided.

So this being Mental Health Day, I thought it would be an ideal opportunity to look at some basic myths and misconceptions about one cause of mental health problems, stress. Continue reading


Workplace Bullying – a conspiracy of silence?

I have been working in the stress management field for over 20 years and still it never ceases to amaze me that some of the issues I was dealing with then are still prevalent today.

In my role as an Expert Witness to the UK courts I am often required to give a professional opinion to the court as to whether an organisation had anti-bullying procedures in place, prior to an employee deciding to institute a compensation claim against them.  Too many times, employees would have made an official complaint to the HR department yet no action was ever taken.   Was it that HR were just uncaring and unsupportive?  Not necessarily so.  Too often it was because HR really didn’t really know what action to take. A lack of agreed policies and procedures left them uncertain whether they should support the employee’s claim about being bullied or just minimise the alleged behaviour by telling the complainant that there was little they could do. 

A recent survey

I read last week that the UK January Employment Index based on a survey of 2,600 people showed that 25% of the respondents have experienced workplace bullying with incidents ranging from colleagues taking credit for work that they didn’t do to public humiliation at the hands of a colleague, and it made me wonder what more could be done to tackle this conduct that is so often responsible for employees taking extended periods of sick leave and, often ultimately deciding to leave the company.

It is easy for anyone to identify the most obvious cases of intimidation, the times when you see a manager screaming at an employee or humiliating them in front of their team.  This is overt bullying behaviour but what about the bullying behaviour that goes on behind closed doors. The psychological bullying that can now take place on social networking sites is a more dangerous style of bullying as it is a much more difficult phenomenon to detect. Individuals can often be humiliated even by an anonymous posting on a website and social networking sites can facilitate remote intimidation that can cause serious psychological damage to the victim.

Counselling support

I have counselled many clients who would describe such intimidation as a ‘reign of terror’.  They became reluctant to go to work but had little option unless they decided to leave or report sick. In many cases, because of extreme stress, some eventually did leave the company which meant a serious financial loss both to them and to the organisation.

So what can an individual do?

First and foremost, they need to check if the organisation has a formal anti-bullying policy and procedure code and if it does then they should use the procedures laid down to make a complaint. Where procedures are not laid down then they need to speak to someone in authority in the company.  Raising the issue with HR is the recommended way forward.  However, as we saw above, the HR department may not always know what action to take.  But this is a risk that may have to be taken as there is strong evidence to show that bullying behaviour creates stress and ultimately health problems.  I have seen and dealt with many cases where individuals have experienced a nervous break-down as a direct result of workplace bullying.

What should the organisation do?

Make sure that your organisation has robust policies and procedures in place to combat workplace bullying and that your HR professionals and line managers are fully trained to recognise and deal effectively with such issues. An anti- bullying policy should state that the organisation will not tolerate unacceptable behaviour.

If people are in fear of going to work and watching the clock to get back to the safety of their home, then those people will be poor performers, poor sales people, poor producers and a bad advertisement for your firm. That competitive disadvantage will be reflected in your company’s image and your brand.

The learning is not to accept bullying behaviour in your department or workplace.

Key Learning Points

  1. Beware of bullying in the workplace and on social networks
  2. Intimidatory behaviour can cause psychological damage
  3. Unacceptable conduct results in competitive disadvantage

[Reprinted with the kind permission of Gulf News]

Book Keynote Motivational Speaker, Entrepreneur, BBC guest-broadcaster and best-selling Author, Carole Spiers in person for your next conference for charismatic, high-impact workplace stress management presentations and organisational change strategies.

See Carole live http://bit.ly/TUWbX  or check-out our latest ideas about workplace stress, stress management training, instant access to stress reduction products http://bit.ly/FjL5L  and stress management training aimed to reduce stress and delivered to blue-chip clients from IBM to Abu Dhabi Marine Operating Company in UK, Dubai, UAE and worldwide at www.carolespiersgroup.co.uk


Is Social Media Stress Adding to Your Workplace Stress?

 “The number of users of the social network site Facebook in the UAE was 840,OOO in August last year, while the number of users of Twitter was 5,778, which represent 40 per cent of total users in the MENA” (ECCO International)

As a keen enthusiast for Social Media, I did not immediately see the potential stress effects of this great digital innovation of published, user-generated content, which has been called, by some, the biggest leap forward since printing.

But it wasn’t long before my stress consultancy was dealing with work-related stress from office workers who found that it was too much to cope with. And I realized that not only the sheer scale of Social Media, but its particular growth characteristics, would set up new challenges for HR departments, with a need for new stress management techniques.

After logging-on to a social networking site, you are immediately invited to connect to other associated links. Without thinking about it, you agree to receive a weekly newsletter, which in turn exposes you to further blogs and their embedded hyperlinks. Entering into this seductive world of intimate sharing of information, you have probably already revealed your email address, picture and other personal details of your self and your circle of friends and family to millions of people all over the world.  And that means you will certainly be facing a great deal of information overload in the days and weeks ahead.

The other side of the problem is the internal pressure, the addictiveness, of logging-on during the day, either in the office or at home, to check what your friends are doing.

One long-serving manager had come across an old database from twenty years ago, with thousands of names on it, many of them familiar to him. Out of interest, he decided to try to track them down through the networking sites. For about three weeks, he just couldn’t concentrate on anything else. It was as though he’d found a new toy. One by one, he would enter these names into the slot, to see where they were now. Running a fish-restaurant in Portugal… Manufacturing children’s telescopes in Ohio… And one of them had been making ornamental wrought-iron just down the road for the last six years without him knowing!

Be Selective

Elsewhere, there was a young woman who had been trained in the jewellery business and had got hooked on a Question-and-Answer website, where she kept winning prizes for answering jewellery questions. The prizes themselves were actually quite trivial, but the buzz of winning had got her addicted.

In a great many cases, people tend to lose track of time, and find that their work is suffering, as a consequence. Sometimes with unfortunate results. I know of at least one manager and two office workers who have all lost their jobs as a result of unauthorised web surfing on social media sites. So be warned!

My advice is to try to get over the ‘new toy’ stage, and use Social Media in a controlled manner. Yes, it’s miraculous what you can do and see, and learn at the touch of a button. But self-control is a necessity particularly when your employer is paying for your services to be full-time during office hours.

Here are three good habits I like to encourage:

First, be selective about your networking groups. New ones are arriving every few weeks, and it will pay you to research them. Equally, sign-off from the ones you aren’t using. This is useful selection that will eliminate much unwanted correspondence.

Second, note the information overload factor in respect of people who you’re addressing via the Social Media. Don’t automatically share all information for the sake of it. Realize that there’s going to be an increasing respect for clarity and concision in all forms of communication.

Third, don’t pressurise. You don’t need to add to the cacophony of ‘Hurry hurry’ messages, which add further to workplace stress. Adopt a more subtle and diplomatic attitude, and your message will stand out from the others. Remember that the Social Media are not just social, however casual and conversational they look. They are also commercial media, which carry an important purpose in promoting the products, services, and the corporate values of your organisation.

Key Points About Social Media

• Social Media are the biggest data revolution since printing

• They can become addictive both as business and entertainment

• You need to apply formal rules to regulate time spent online

Have you met any Social Media addicts? 

Tell us about them now. Make an important difference to a big new debate.

[Reprinted with the kind permission of Gulf News]

Book Keynote Motivational Speaker, BBC guest-broadcaster and best-selling Author, Carole Spiers in person for your next conference for charismatic, high-impact workplace stress management presentations and organisational change strategies.  See Carole live http://bit.ly/TUWbX

Or check-out our latest ideas about stress help, instant accesas to stress reduction products http://bit.ly/FjL5L and stress management services aimed to reduce stress and delivered to blue-chip clients from IBM to Abu Dhabi Marine Operating Company in UK, Dubai, UAE and worldwide at www.carolespiersgroup.co.uk

Contact Carole  for a FREE stress management strategies consultation – Tel: +44 (0) 20 8954 1593  or email info@carolespiersgroup.co.uk.    She is dedicated to supporting your long-term growth through talent retention rooted in effective stress management.


Stress and Anxiety Under the Volcano

The recent volcanic eruption in Iceland, threatened the prospect of a larger stress management agenda than anything I had ever known.

My colleague Alex, a young English nutritionist, was in a particular hotel, on the Palm Jumeirah, when the astonishing news came in  –  ‘no flights to Northern Europe until further notice.’

That was the blanket ruling that was suddenly applied when the volcanic ash-clouds appeared to present a hazard to any jet aircraft in flight. 

In Alex’s case, it set off two sharply contrasting feelings. One was the sheer wonder of being trapped in this holiday Paradise, with every luxury on hand and a water-park and interactive dolphin-bay for her children to play in.

The other, of course, was profound stress and anxiety about the likelihood of a prolonged crisis  –  who would pay for all the extra hotel accommodation and food, plus the serious issue of interrupted schooling.

At least they were not suffering the additional stress effects of having to sleep in an airport lounge for an indefinite period. Also the initial response from those able to help, was most generous. In the event, Alex’s airline guaranteed them a flight home and the hotel extended an immediate line of credit. It transpired, apparently, one of the hotel’s Managers came from the very town in China that had just been wrecked in an earthquake, which rather put her own problems in perspective. Both he, and all the other staff, went out of their way to give reassurance and moral support. And before they eventually flew home, they had received three offers of somewhere to stay on, if necessary, in Dubai  –  a city where they knew nobody, so these were just friends-of-friends, basically strangers, doing their best to help in a crisis.

Change Management challenge

Now that the crisis is over, it is of course heartwarming to reflect on these gestures of human kindness and corporate support to customers.

But while the crisis continued, with no indication as to when it would end, as a stress management specialist, I was suddenly having to merge two of my familiar specialities of Change Management and Crisis Management into a temporary, single agenda.

Many of my clients suddenly found themselves with senior staff unable to return to work; scheduled meetings postponed, overseas trips having to be cancelled and, in the case of at least two of my corporate clients – urgent material supply deliveries that were normally airfreighted in from Europe, having been cancelled.  Consequently, various contracts had to be delayed and penalty clauses for non-delivery examined carefully.

Suddenly all the issues of corporate change and work related stress were in the front of managers’ mindsets, everywhere. My theories of change have usually been explained in terms of fairly slow evolutions, over months or years  –  perhaps a national telephone network switching over from analogue to digital, or a traditionally male-dominated boardroom acclimatising to women directors. But now we looked like having to handle nothing less than an overnight recession.

However, many employers appeared to be responding to this challenge in a sensitive way. A poll of 600 of the UK’s leading employers shows that 51% were paying employees, in full, for the lost days, 23% were paying half, and 27% were counting them as paid holiday.

This small sample of what could have been a much bigger emergency seems to confirm that when some people are plunged into a serious crisis, others who are able to help tend to observe that ethic that says “If you can, you should.”

Do you have strong views on this aspect of work related stress?

Then give us the benefit of your experience of stress and anxiety.

Key points about the travel shutdown

  • The airline shutdown gave a glimpse of a possible world crisis
  • The situation could have sparked massive need for corporate change
  • The emergency showed signs of bringing out a co-operative spirit

[Reprinted with the kind permission of Gulf News]

Book Motivational Speaker, BBC guest-broadcaster and best-selling Author, Carole Spiers in person for your next conference for charismatic, high-impact stress management presentations and organisational change strategies.  See Carole live http://bit.ly/TUWbX

Or check-out our latest professional stress reduction products http://bit.ly/FjL5L and stress management services aimed to reduce stress and delivered to blue-chip clients from IBM to Abu Dhabi Marine Operating Company in UK, Dubai, UAE and worldwide at www.carolespiersgroup.co.uk

Contact Carole  for a FREE stress management strategies consultation – Tel:  +44 (0) 20 8954 1593  or email info@carolespiersgroup.co.uk.    She is dedicated to supporting your long-term growth through talent retention rooted in effective stress management.