Motivational Speaker Carole Spiers says … Don’t stoke up more stress through survivor guilt


A classic combination of managing stress and managing change occurred when I had to cope with the redundancies at a manufacturer of big-name cameras that were still using film.

In particular, I was having to counsel a longstanding employee, Nida, who worked at a service-centre for these cameras, where her best friend Aliyah had just been made redundant. Both were having trouble coping with stress.

Aliyah had moved on to work for an obscure charity, and claimed that she was finding new fulfilment, though she did not look healthy or well-adjusted. Nida was worried about her, and it made her feel painfully guilty for still being in her own well-paid job. To complicate matters further, there was actually a possible basis for genuine guilt.

For it was Nida who had proposed a recent re-organisation of the department, which had given her a slight edge of seniority, so that if one of them had to go, it would more likely be Aliyah.

At our first counselling session, this guilt-led stress was affecting Nida so badly that she was almost wanting to quit and join Aliyah in her charity work. This was the surest sign that she had got things out of proportion. I told her to appeal to Aliyah for a sincere answer over whether she blamed her for the outcome.

At the second session, she was able to tell me that Aliyah’s answer was no, she understood that it was simply a declining market. So one big obstacle was lifted out of our way. From there, it was easier for me to demonstrate that nearly all survivor-guilt is imaginary, and so achieve a big step forward in stress reduction.

Have you heard … ?

… of someone suffering from survivor guilt that you feel to be unjustified?

Tell us what happened  –  or just what you think and feel about common workplace situations like this – In our readers-comments box.  Now.

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Tel:  +44 (0) 20 8954 1593 or email:  [email protected].

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