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Laughter, Empathy & Anti-Bullying

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Workplace Bullying & Emotional Response
Workshop Session Plan
Key Learning Outcomes

Workshop Focus:
The workshop focuses on the importance of humour for relaxation and positivity and combines this with information on empathy building and conflict resolution. The workshop discusses bullying and strategies on how to deal with it.  It links the wellbeing areas of laughter and empathy as a means of preventative strategies and to empower participants.
Full day (6 hours) workshop
Target Audience:

Management and staff
Expected Outcomes:
Clearer understanding about bullying and how positive skills such as empathy and humour de-escalate conflict and build resilience in staff.  The staff will develop critical thinking skills and philosophy to gain a deeper understanding of bullying.  The participants will gain skills in reading body language, visualisation, improved communication skills and the prevention of bullying.


The Laughter, Empathy and Anti-bullying workshop was developed in response to the devastating impact of bullying in Australian workplaces and the real need to investigate and provide skills to staff on how to deal with conflict, take responsibility for the workplace and promote a positive workplace.

The purpose of the workshop is to provide participants with experiences and skills to develop positive attitudes; an understanding of themselves and others; and skills to resolve conflicts and to make a difference personally to ensure the workplace is productive and satisfying.

The workshop is a full day program (depending on client needs) to teach skills through sharing knowledge, brainstorming, questioning and interactive activities to stimulate experiential learning.

The full day training expands on the concepts and explores in greater depth for integration and behaviour change.

It is recommended that the workshop is repeated in 6 months as it takes time to change behaviour and attitudes.

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Workplace Bullying and Emotional Response

Bullying is not only in the school yard it is evident in the workplace. The issue of workplace bullying is an emerging issue of concern in the business community and the general community (schools). A Griffith University study estimated that workplace bullying costs Australian industry between $6 and $36 billion. The costs included estimates for hidden costs. Furthermore, it was estimated that between 350,000 to 1.5 million people were bullied. Bullying can cost a company in both direct and indirect costs approximately $20,000 per employee. The issue is also considerable in schools which reflects that it is a societal problem.

The core of the bullying issue is lack of empathy.  The person engaged in bullying behaviour cannot feel the pain of the person they are bullying.  When a person is ego identified and is angry they unconsciously block their empathetic feelings which would normally inform them to stop the behaviour.  In a world where feelings and/or emotions are suppressed, people are learning to unnaturally and unwittingly block empathy.  In business many are encouraged to not engage in their emotions but to be professional.  That is, to conduct business without emotional language and conduct behaviour and language in a way that is clear, concise and informed.  If it is a form of professional neutrality.  When this is done on a day-to-day basis the brain re-wires away from emotional wiring as it will favour the activity of the logical brain.

Below is a statement from PTSD & The Brain (refer

…Life experiences influence brain maturation, as well as how the mind achieves mental health. Countless studies have been able to demonstrate that nature depends on nurture. Every interaction we have with others shapes the architecture of our brains. This is especially true for the developing brain, which doesn’t fully develop until approximately age 29.

The amygdala is File:Constudoverbrain.pngthe key to emotional response in humans.   This has implications for the workplace where men cannot respond physically but instead may contain themselves and feel negative, become depressed or turn to stimulants.  In my research in respect of gender and governance in a workplace, women tended to prefer to talk more about problems whereas men had a tendency to not speak or rock the boat.  Learning effective communications and empathy become central as it releases tension and is likely to reduce bullying.  Here is an overview by Wikipedia about the amygdala.

There are functional differences between the right and left amygdala. In one study, electrical stimulations of the right amygdala induced negative emotions, especially fear and sadness. In contrast, stimulation of the left amygdala was able to induce either pleasant (happiness) or unpleasant (fear, anxiety, sadness) emotions.  Other evidence suggests that the left amygdala plays a role in the brain’s reward system.

Buddhist monks who do compassion meditation have been shown to modulate their amygdala, along with their temporoparietal junction and insula, during their practice. In an fMRI study, more intensive insula activity was found in expert meditators than in novices. Increased activity in the amygdala following compassion-oriented meditation may contribute to social connectedness.

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Workshop Session Plan

  • Introduction
  • Laughter, Humour, Releasing tension
  • Emotions, Expression and Empathy
  • Consciousness, perceptions & positive thinking
  • Effective communications
  • What is conflict and bullying?
  • Conflict resolution
  • Generating solutions and possibilities
  • Praise session (esteeming)
  • Visualisation and meditation
  • Caring communities

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Key Learning Outcomes

A. To become aware and actively experience humour and positivity.

1. Positive skills and techniques to release tension and view situations in a positive frame;
2. Participants will experience laughter and why positivity is important for workplace harmony.

B. To develop critical thinking to develop awareness of emotions.

3. Critical thinking skills: participants will examine their feelings, emotions and experiences in the workplace and generate questions and answers.

C. To learn philosophical inquiry to problems.

4. Philosophy: participants will be exposed to personal inquiry as to how they choose to see a situation.

D. To visualise, role play, discuss and positively release emotions.

5. To visualise and experience inner emotions and learn how to release them non-violently;

E. To become aware of body language.

6. To become aware through activities communication through body language;
7. To become aware and learn about how emotions are released and ways to release emotions safely in the workplace.

F. To understand and feel empathy.

8. To discuss and role play empathetic stories.

G. To develop skills in positive thinking and self esteem.

9. To become aware and experience positive thinking and self esteem.

H. To become aware of perceptions, beliefs, experience and different realities.

10. To become aware of how perceptions are influenced by beliefs, focus and interpretations;
11. To become aware of the power of emotions and perception of reality.

I. To develop communication skills.

12. To understand how we communicate can either block or facilitate flows in communication.
13. To develop an understanding of poor communication skills and good communication skills
14. To learn active listening;
15. To develop skills in asking questions to understand people;
16. To learn to communicate ‘I Statements’ to express and own feelings.

J. To develop an awareness, understanding and ability to respond to bullying in the workplace.

17. To understand what bullying is;
18. To become aware of bullying in the workplace;
19. To role play bullying and victim behaviour;
20. To discuss how bullying can be prevented.

K. To learn conflict resolution.

21. To learn the basic mediation process.

L. To develop solutions and caring communities.

22. To discuss possibilities and solutions from mediation
and consider what caring communities look like.

M. To observe the workplace for one week and debrief.

23. Observations of the workplace evaluating concepts learned.