Tag Archives: Self-Care

Bullying – WMHI blog header

5 More Subtle Signs of Workplace Bullying

You may not think of your office as a place where bullying occurs, but believe it or not, this kind of interpersonal conflict happens in places other than just the schoolyard.

In fact,

research has shown that as many as 1 in 4 people report that they have experienced workplace bullying firsthand.

Unfortunately, workplace bullying often goes under the radar. Why? First of all, it’s not always as obvious as the overt name-calling, shoving, and teasing that we have come to associate with made-for-TV bullies. Secondly, bullying can be embarrassing: a team member who is being bullied may not want to talk about it for fear of looking weak. He or she may also feel pressure to avoid ‘dobbing in’ a coworker, or becoming the target of the bully if they step in on someone’s behalf.

But workplace bullying can and should be addressed by managers in any business or company. In the work environment, bullying tends to be a long, slow, and progressive process, whereby the perpetrator emotionally and psychologically manipulates his or her target over time. This can lead to serious problems with an overall workplace environment and may even contribute to lost productivity, increased errors, and other issues that are common with a distracted and unhappy team member (not to mention a worst-case scenario in which companies are held legally liable for failing to protect an employee against bullying).

Are you a psychologically safe manager? Take the self-assessment to find out.

WMHI Blog – 5 More Subtle Signs of Workplace Bullying

So, the first step in putting an end to workplace bullying in your company is to learn how to tell if, when, and where it’s happening. Here are 5 subtle signals that your workplace environment may be home to some bullying:

  1. Frequent use of the blame game.

Is there a person on your team who seems to always have an excuse for his or her performance? Does he or she frequently point fingers at someone else, using another person as a scapegoat? Responsibility has to lie somewhere: if someone is unwilling to take personal responsibility for their own actions or inactions, then chances are they’re attempting to unfairly shift that responsibility to someone else.

  1. Minimising the thoughts, contributions, and feelings of others.

Having a patronising attitude toward someone is a subtle way of putting that person down and making him or her feel victimised. A team member who appears to make fun of, minimise, undermine, or discredit someone’s ideas or needs (especially on a consistent basis) could be bullying. They maylaugh derisively at someone’s thoughts or ideas; or physically disengage in communication by turning away and changing topic drastically.

  1. Deceit and dishonesty.

We all tell white lies from time to time. But if a person has a pattern of frequently lying, raising false hopes, or saying they’ll do something and then failing to follow through, then this could be a sign that he or she is trying to take advantage of the people around him or her.

  1. Intentional isolation by way of ignoring or excluding someone.

A sensation of “us versus them” can be seriously detrimental to the health and unity of a company. Team members may achieve this by purposefully not inviting someone to a work event or failing to include them in pertinent discussions, meetings, or projects. Purposefully underusing a team member or persistently delegating undesirable tasks to him or her (especially if they fall within many people’s job descriptions) can also be seen as an attempt for separation.

An example of this is, ‘ghosting’, where the bully will ignore a team member’s attempts to  communicate for legitimate work reasons, while they acknowledge other people’s communication that they consider more important. While this practice is, unfortunately, widely tolerated in Australia, it is, nonetheless, damaging.

  1. Excessive flattery.

Going overboard on compliments and flattery is disingenuous at best; at worst itcan be a form of manipulation, persuading the target to check for the flatterer’s approval on any decisions or action. It can also be used as a prelude to more overt bullying, encouraging a person let their guard down, therefore becoming easier to manipulate.

The best bullies tend to be very smooth operators, able to hide their bullying well, and will leave just enough wiggle room to claim their good intentions are being misconstrued, in the event they’re called out. The best defense against bullies is education and awareness.  When people are aware of the signs, it becomes harder for the bully to operate freely.

Keep in mind that workplace bullying can happen at any level and in any direction within your company. Everyone, from senior level executives all the way to the newest team members should be held to the same standards that are necessary to create a positive and healthy work environment.

To your mental health,

– Peter Diaz

Author: Peter Diaz
Peter-Diaz-AuthorPeter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organisations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

Connect with Peter Diaz on:
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Bullying

Beware Declaring War on Bullying

A common mistake people make, especially at work, is to assume that it’s ‘others’ who are being a bully. And that bullying is an abuse of power by some other people more powerful than I. But this is self deceit. Many bullies don’t realise they are being a bully. It’s like having snot in the middle of your face, you are usually the last person to find out, right?

Bullying in the workplaceThe same with acting like a bully. Ask yourself, ‘can I think of times when I’ve acted like a bully?’ before you answer rashly, think about this ‘do you like to be right?’ if you are not right, does it upset you? do you like rules? (but only your rules!)’ then it’s quite probable that, at times, you may have acted as a bully to others, even if you didn’t mean to.

Or think about it this way, have you ever taken it out on someone else? and you knew it wasn’t their fault but you had a go at them anyway? and what’s more, did you secretly enjoy it? (even if later you felt guilty about it) I think most of us have. By the way most people do. It’s not that we are bad people, it’s that we all have the potential to try to force our thoughts, actions and will onto someone else. It’s usually a response to our own fears and uncertainties.

One of the common scenarios we see in workplaces goes like this – someone doesn’t agree with a colleagues’ idea, opinion, or direction. For some reason, they feel it’s personal. They feel hurt, upset, disappointed, or frustrated. Now they start to see their colleague differently. As a evil, bad, some kind of bitch or bastard. A villain. And it’s ok to stop perpetrators, right? Don’t we have a moral obligation to stop them? …and the reasons for judging, labelling and attacking keep coming.

By the way, this is completely normal and to be expected when you have a group of people coming together to work on something. But if the person is not aware of what is going on, it may not be too long before they start to feel they are being bullied or victimised. And in response, they launch an all out attack on the colleague. Does this sound at all familiar? Now who is doing the bullying in this scenario? The wise person will catch themselves in this.

We need to be careful before we react, to make sure that we ourselves have not become a bully in response. This means a certain level of self awareness and self honesty is required. Rather than declare war on bullying, check to make sure you are responding with compassion, kindness, understanding and assertion, not aggression.

Author: Peter Diaz
Peter-Diaz-AuthorPeter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organisations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

Connect with Peter Diaz on:
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When is the right time

When is the right time to talk about suicide?

It’s a beautiful morning. Its cold outside but the sun is shining. I’m sitting in a café across from the water starting my work day. And it hits me, today 8 people in Australia will take their own life. 8 people will feel so desperate, so alone, so hopeless, they will take drastic action to end their life deliberately.

I don’t mean to startle you. In fact, we had this conversation in our team just yesterday. You see, we’re developing our online suicide prevention course, and the question was, how do we help people to see how important, how urgent this is, without scaring people? How do we help people to look at something that so often we as a society don’t want to look at or think about? How do we make it OK to talk about suicide, to learn about suicide?

When is the right timeI think the time for downplaying it has ended. In Australia we now have a situation where more people die each day from suicide than through road accidents. Let that sink in. More people deliberately take their own life, than by accident on the road. And 6 of those will be men. What is going on for men? Well there are many and complex issues, which I won’t go into right now, that’s for another article.

You know we’ve seen increasing rates of suicide over the last few years, despite the growing focus on mental health issues. How can that be? Well, there are a number of factors, but one thing I think is important to  realise is that much of the focus has been on ‘awareness campaigns’. Now that is a good start, and in many cases, where there is a big taboo that is the best place to start – just to get people talking about mental health is an improvement. But if we really want to make a difference it can’t end there. People need real skills, they need to know what to watch for in their colleagues and friends, and they need to know what to do, how to respond.

If we are looking to make a difference in the lives of Australians (and we are), workplaces are a great place to start, as we spend so much of our lives at work, hours at a time, day after day with the same people by our side.

But here I have a frustration too. My frustration is that so many workplaces mean to equip their staff  in this area. They want to give them those skills, they want to make a difference to their staff. But with all the competing priorities and demands, mental health training often gets left for later. But I come back to my initial statement. Today 8 people will take their life, tomorrow another 8 people, and the day after that, and the day after that. Every day that we put off mental health training til ‘the next quarter’, or ‘after the restructure’, or ‘when Bob gets back from leave’, is another day that we are at risk of losing a valued colleague, a good friend. Simply because someone didn’t have the training, didn’t notice the warning signs, or didn’t know what to do.

And I get it, I’ve been in senior management positions for a while now. There are competing demands. It’s the reality of business. But if you knew that someone in your team was going to attempt to take their life, would that suddenly make it more urgent? It is unfortunate that so many groups we train, have decided to implement some mental health education AFTER there has been a crisis like this. It’s sad. I just wish they would do it earlier. Do it now. It’s not unusual to have 80% of the room know someone who has taken their life. And yet we don’t hear about it. Part of that is because of the way suicide is reported, but also I think, we don’t want to hear about it. Because we feel helpless, we don’t know what to do. This is where just a little bit of training can make all the difference. I cant count the number of times that someone has come up to us after training, to let us know they used one or some of the techniques we taught them, and that it made such a big difference in the lives of their friend/colleague/family member.

Well, that’s my thoughts for today. I hope it hasn’t been too much of a downer for you. Suicide is a serious matter, and we need to act, we need to do something. But life is meant to be enjoyed too. So As I said, it’s a beautiful day today. I’m going to enjoy it, be grateful for the simple things like the sunshine on the water. The fresh clean water in my glass. And keep working to get the message out there.

Author: Peter Diaz
Peter-Diaz-AuthorPeter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organisations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

Connect with Peter Diaz on:
Peter Diaz on Google Plus Peter Diaz on Face Book Peter Diaz on LinkedIn Twitter-logo

mental-health

You Don’t Really Care About Our Mental Health

Lawyers are a pretty up front bunch, and their feelings were made clear in a recent study by UNSW into lawyers’ perspectives on mental health & wellbeing programs in their firms. It’s really worth a read, providing an unvarnished view of how lawyers feel their firms are looking after their mental wellbeing. mental-health care
“(Firms are) talking the talk…but I think the problems are systemic and will not be fixed by vague employee assistance programs and ‘wellness’ initiatives,” said one respondent, a 32 year old female solicitor in a large firm.

While I applaud firms for making an effort to address mental illness, these initiatives just don’t seem to be effective when they’re ‘bolted on’. They’re regarded as an optional extra that you might take up if you’re not busy, or not committed to the ‘real work’. And frankly, who’s going to admit that?

There is of course an alternative. I believe the best way to embed good mental health practices into an organisation is to equip leaders with the skills to monitor the mental health of their team members and adjust the work intensity or structure when the early warning signs appear.

I’m not saying we train our leaders to be psychologists or counsellors. I’m saying let’s equip them to spot the danger signs and act appropriately before harm comes to the individual and the organisation.

Author: Peter Diaz
Peter-Diaz-AuthorPeter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organisations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

Connect with Peter Diaz on:
Peter Diaz on Google Plus Peter Diaz on Face Book Peter Diaz on LinkedIn

Screaming

Unlocking The Mysteries Of Workplace Madness – Part 2

Good mental health at work can be tricky. The workplace is a place where rules of behavior need to be observed. So, what room is there for madness at work? Is there any?

In Part 1 of our interview, Mary O’Hagan made the point that madness should be respected. But how? This comment in itself stretches some of the common (mis-) understandings on mental illness, or ‘Madness’ as Mary likes to call it.

In part 2 of our interview, Mary makes the following fascinating points:

  • Madness doesn’t turn you into a saint
  • How having a mental illness can shape you
  • Bringing mental illness into the workplace benefits your customers
  • How to talk to someone with a mental illness
  • Flexible supports are not specific to people with mental illness at work
  • Some accommodations important to people with a mental illness

What do you think? Is there a place for madness at work?

Would love to hear from you

Author: Peter Diaz
Peter-Diaz-AuthorPeter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organisations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

Connect with Peter Diaz on:
Peter Diaz on Google Plus Peter Diaz on Face Book Peter Diaz on LinkedIn

Ten Essential Elements

10 Essential Elements of a Workplace Wellness Strategy

1 in 5 people are impacted by mental health problems every year in Australia. That means that at least 1 in 5 of your employees will either experiencing a full blown mental health crisis, or an unidentified one.

This is well known to impact on productivity, absenteeism, presenteeism, workplace injuries and accidents, and team morale.

Not only that, but the expense of these problems to Australian businesses has been identified as up to $3.6 billion every year. The average psychological injury claim itself costs $250,000.

When compared to the tax on time and money, a business with a solid Workplace Wellness Strategy makes good financial and human sense.

Ten Essential ElementMany businesses are now implementing a Workplace Wellness Strategy as part of, or alongside, their Workplace Health & Safety plan. But a Workplace Wellness Strategy doesn’t always come easily. What are the essential elements of a Workplace Wellness Strategy?

This week we look at the first essential element……

Essential Element #1: EDUCATION

Education is absolutely vital, and is usually the first place to start.

A good Workplace Wellness strategy includes training in mental health and workplace wellness for all staff, as well as specialist education for leaders.

Traditionally, organisations have not made themselves responsible for the mental and emotional wellbeing of staff. In fact as a society, we have very poor mental health literacy. So before a Workplace Wellness Strategy can really be developed and implemented, organisations, and the individuals within them need to educate themselves about mental health.

The whole team, but especially the leaders, need to understand how the human brain works and what will hinder or promote wellness within the team. Gone are the days when bosses didn’t need to know anything about psychology. This generation has higher expectations of support from their leaders. Leaders have to be well prepared, in order to have the stamina necessary to meet the new expectations of their workers.

By providing education in mental health and workplace wellness, leaders of an organisation are also sending the message that this conversation is not only acceptable, but welcomed within the culture of the company.

But is education enough? We don’t think so. Stay tuned for the next essential element for your Workplace Wellness Strategy

 

“If you think education is expensive, try ignorance” Harvard President Derek Bok

Author: Peter Diaz
Peter-Diaz-AuthorPeter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organisations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

Connect with Peter Diaz on:
Peter Diaz on Google Plus Peter Diaz on Face Book Peter Diaz on LinkedIn

When your body speaks

When Your Body Speaks, Its Time To Pay Attention

Feeling run down? Aching muscles? Sore head? Listen to your body!

Your body is always speaking to you, giving you directions about which decisions to make. It wants you to live a life in line with your path and your purpose. It’s just that it is speaking in code!

Too many of us blindly ignore our body, thinking of it as a machine – that as long as we keep feeding the body, it’ll keep running. Not true!

An easy example of this is that many of us could come up with a list of signs telling your immune system is weaker than usual. Some of the physical signs include headaches, a cold sore reappearing, even eczema or thrush. The big one is picking up the office colds or flu regularly.  Emotional signs you would notice include increased irritability or feelings of fatigue. It’s not rocket science. Our bodies are remarkable messengers. We just choose not to listen. Or we can choose to listen.

When your body speaksWhen you notice that funny feeling in your stomach or you start to get a headache around a particular topic, listen to the message from your body. Maybe this is not your path. Maybe it’s telling you to slow down. Maybe you need to reconnect with an activity or person.

Your gut instinct will tell you when you are out of alignment with your path. There are a variety of physical and emotional messages your body tells you every single day.

Feeling tense about a situation you’re not comfortable doing? Feeling forced to do something you’d rather not? Notice the tension in your neck, shoulders and gut. That’s a sure sign you are drifting off your path.

Whatever it is, make it a practice to listen to your body and carefully consider what its message might be. If you don’t listen to your body, it will send you even louder signals!

Author: Peter Diaz
Peter-Diaz-AuthorPeter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organisations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

Connect with Peter Diaz on:
Peter Diaz on Google Plus Peter Diaz on Face Book Peter Diaz on LinkedIn

Jim – Avoid Burnout

Avoiding Professional Burnout

No matter how much you enjoy your job, there are times when pressure or stress can start to take an emotional toll on you, particularly if you are in a service or healthcare related field. It is important to be able to spot the symptoms associated with professional burnout.

Burnout occurs after a prolonged period of stress under which a person feels that their emotional resources are not good enough to endure or overcome the obstacle. This can lead to a feeling of helplessness and a host of emotional and physical symptoms.

Jim - Avoiding professional burnoutLet’s take a look at Jim, for example. Jim is a healthcare professional who is very committed to his job and genuinely cares for the patients he sees on a daily basis. His job is rewarding but he is also often witness to pain, confusion and sadness as his patients are often ill or dying. Jim works long hours and often takes work home with him or comes in on days off just to check in. Over time the emotional strain begins to build up until eventually Jim starts to feel exhausted, unmotivated, and helpless. He starts to experience sleepless nights, jaw clenching, and elevated blood pressure. His family and friends worry that he “isn’t his usually happy self.”

Jim is experiencing burnout caused by prolonged stress that he did not take the time to deal with properly. There are several self-care actions that you can put into place before letting burnout take hold. Self-care is the practice of activities that individuals perform on their own behalf to maintain life, health and well-being. Jim was dedicated to his career and to his patients, but he neglected to take care of his own personal needs.

You can start by taking the first few minutes of each day and making them about you. Most people rise from their beds at the sound of an alarm clock and immediately start to “work.” They might get dressed, check e-mail, care for a spouse or child and rush out the door quickly. Instead, take the first ten or fifteen minutes of each day for meditation, or reflection. Spend time mentally preparing yourself for the day by focusing on positive thoughts.

Another way to practice self-care is to be mindful of your diet and exercise. Proper nourishment gives us energy and stamina to get through our day. Building a healthy body through wholesome foods and physical activity decreases the chance of sickness, improves sleep and makes us feel happier.

Limit the burdens you place on yourself. Do not take on more than you can reasonably do in a day and enlist the help of people that care about you when you feel overwhelmed. Do not stay connected to your technology all day long, occasionally take a break. It’s alright to be “unreachable” from time to time. Remember that by not focusing on your own needs and your own health you could be impacting your ability to do your job or take care of your loved ones. By practicing self-care you will become healthier, more positive and more focused than ever before. And obviously you can consider attending to our Mental Health First Aid Training where you will learn the signs and symptoms of these mental health problems, where and how to get help, and what sort of help has been shown by research to be effective.

Author: Peter Diaz
Peter-Diaz-AuthorPeter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organisations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

Connect with Peter Diaz on:
Peter Diaz on Google Plus Peter Diaz on Face Book Peter Diaz on LinkedIn

Workplace Mental Health Institute