Year of the Wood Horse

Happy Chinese New Year of the Horse 2014 from Karen Armstrong

2014 is the year of the Wood Horse, bringing with it the qualities of great energy and power. This will be a year to have big dreams and goals. In Chinese culture, the Horse is a symbol of nobility, class, speed and perseverance. The Horse person is innovative, bold, warm-hearted and cheerful. The Year of the Horse 2014 promises a lot of new things, including business opportunities, adventure and excitement.

Wellbeing in the workplace

The majority of people are polite. However, a minority are aggressive and this can be stressful for frontline staff in all public contact roles. Staff need support from their managers and employers to minimise the stresses caused by dealing with aggression. One of our clients requested a course tailored for managers to provide them with skills to support frontline employees. The focus was on enhancing staff wellbeing, with topics including empathy, emotional intelligence, mindfulness, stress management, resilience and incident debriefing.


An effective debriefing process analyses critical events with the aim of achieving an improved outcome next time. The process involves simple, factual questions that encourage solution-focused input. Timing, location, confidentiality and privacy are important factors. Aggressive incidents can be unsettling, sometimes creating responses of fear, anger and depression. Studies on occupational violence show that claims for psychological damage far exceed those for actual physical injury. Successful debriefing enables people to return to a feeling of order, safety and control, and facilitates closure of challenging events. Debriefing impacts on the bottom line through reduced absenteeism and turnover, as well as improved productivity and morale.

Stress management

Stress management strategies can be divided into two broad categories – active and relaxing. Active strategies usually focus on vigorous physical exercise, while examples of relaxing strategies include meditation and music. Choose activities that you enjoy and are easy to get to.

Instant strategies include:

  • Take a walk, even around your desk
  • Have a drink of water, cup of tea
  • Stand up and stretch
  • Find something to laugh about – gather a file of humorous incidents, perhaps from your own workplace. Some examples from the insurance industry:

‘In an attempt to kill a fly, I drove into a telephone pole.’
‘I collided with a stationary truck coming the other way.’


Interest in mindfulness is rising dramatically in the international business world, with established links between mindfulness practice and leadership development. The simple discipline of paying attention to the present develops the ability to notice what is happening right now. Our next newsletter will include more details on how the practice of mindfulness can be applied to dealing professionally with aggressive behaviour.

Safety strategies on the job

Feedback from some of our participants:

Customer service
“Helps me with customers to listen and be calm.” Counter officerLocal government
“Professional presentation with highly relevant information . . should be done across whole council.”Team leader

Library personnel
“Learnt a lot, feel empowered with skills to defuse a situation. One of the best courses I’ve ever done..”Librarian

Disability services
“I learnt how to be calm, assertive and confident in my ability to be safe.”Support worker

“The focus on early warning signs and effective verbal responses builds confidence for our officers, and clarifying when to ACT was great.”Inspector, vehicle regulations

Please feel free to contact me personally to discuss any aspect of your training needs.

Karen Armstrong, Director | Principal Instructor
Mobile: 0408 615 559

What is your plan this year to protect your most valuable asset – the safety of your staff?
Please call Karen Armstrong on 0408 615 559 to discuss a program that is customised to your exact workplace scenarios.