Dr Austin Tay


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If you are interested to know more about what OmniPsi Consulting offers, please click on the link www.omnipsi.com.


If you are interested in my blog, you can click on this link www.draustintay.com


Some of the references shared in this episode are as follow:

Folkman, S., & Lazarus, R. S. (1985). If it changes it must be a process: A study of emotion and coping during three stages of a college examination. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 48, 150–170. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.48.1.150


Hershcovis, M. S., Turner, N., Barling, J., Arnold, K. A., Dupré, K. E., Inness, M., . . .Sivanathan, N. (2007). Predicting workplace aggression: A meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92, 228–238.


Penney, L. M., & Spector, P. E. (2005). Job stress, incivility, and counterproductive work behavior (CWB): The moderating role of negative affectivity. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 26, 777–796.

With the outbreak of Covid-19 increasing and spreading to many more countries, we are all advised to maintain hand hygiene to reduce the spread.  Prince Charles opted for a “namaste” instead of shaking hands at the Prince Trust’s Awards this week. This got me thinking. Since most of us are working from home and are continuing to collaborate with our colleagues through video conferencing, would it not be great to use another way to greet each other, since we are not able to shake hands. So instead of just a “Hello”, why not try something different.


Being based in Asia, I am exposed to three different ethnicities – Chinese, Malay and Indian. Each of these ethnicities has always used their own way to greet one another. The following are non-hand shaking greetings that you can try.


Chinese greeting


The half fist and palm salute is a standard greeting used by the Chinese. It is a form of greeting to show gratitude towards others and in traditional settings such as Chinese New Year. Although modern Chinese have started using handshakes, this type of Chinese greeting is a way to show respect towards others through distance (which I think is so appropriate at this time). There is a difference between men and women when it comes to the way this greeting is presented. For men, the left palm is placed over the right half fist, and for women, the right palm is placed over the left half fist.


chinese family greeting


Malay greeting


In the Malay tradition, the greeting is “Salam”. Both men and women will stretch their hands out, and you can lightly touch their hands and in return bring back one hand and place on your heart to indicate, ” I greet you with all my heart”.  Both men and women will offer their hands. It has to be noted that this greeting is not done towards the opposite sex (unless they are related). A simplified version is to use a hand on heart as a greeting which can be appropriate at this time.


Malay man greeting


Traditional Greeting

hand on heart


Simplified Greeting Version


Indian greeting


A standard greeting used by Indians is “Namaste”. This greeting is coupled with a slight bow and hands are pressed together and placed close to the heart. This gesture is also known as Anjali Mudra, a gesture also used in traditional ritual, yoga and dance.





As we are all trying our best to cope with the spread of the Covid-19, we should not forget to remain kind to one another.

If you have enjoyed this episode, kindly share this with your friends. For comments and suggestions, please write to psychchat@omnipsi.com or tweet to @psych_chat.


If you are interested to know more about what OmniPsi Consulting offers, please click on the link www.omnipsi.com.


If you are interested in my blog, you can click on this link www.draustintay.com


To effectively prevent workplace bullying, organizations need to ensure that they have a clear policy against workplace bullying. It is also essential that their employees are aware that such a policy is in place. Organizations can communicate this to their employees through the use of mediums such as notices, newsletters, internal memorandums and awareness campaigns. Training is essential for those who will be involved in dealing with complaints of workplace bullying, and these will include managers and HR personnel.


When organisations discuss workplace bullying openly and have processes and procedures to reduce and tackle workplace bullying, they will create a safe work environment for their employees.


Some of the references mentioned in this episode are as follow:


https://www.reuters.com/article/us-southkorea-labour/south-koreans-using-spy-gadgets-to-fight-workplace-bullying-idUSKCN1VO13I https://www.ladbible.com/news/news-man-cops-21000-fine-for-workplace-bullying-incident-20190829 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSBNma0-ylg

Just as all of us are hoping that 2020 will be a good year, we are hit by the news of a 2019 novel coronavirus, that was first discovered in Wuhan, the epic centre of the outbreak. The outbreak has now gone beyond Wuhan, and many countries are not spared from the spreading of the virus. It has to be said that those found carrying the virus had been or were from Wuhan.  Individuals who have not been to Wuhan have also contracted the virus because of close contact with those infected. For example,  cases of human to human transmissions include the driver in Japan who drove a group of tourists from Wuhan, four cases of locally transmitted in Singapore and those who attended a conference in Singapore were found to have been tested positive for the virus.  To date, there are also two reported deaths, one in the Philippines and one in Hong Kong.


Since the outbreak,  people have been and continue to be worried about contracting the virus. Reports and scenes of people lining up to get surgical masks and hand sanitisers, especially in countries outside of Wuhan, are common and these have also resulted in countries struggling to meet the demands of their citizens wanting to get surgical masks for protection.


This is where I think perspective is essential. Human beings are social animals. We emulate or do things to feel, or to be, part of a group.  The influence of a group can be powerful as it can shift an individual’s behaviour and decision making. For example, when individuals hear that there is a shortage of surgical masks, they will collectively be lining up at pharmacies or shops in the hope to get a box of surgical masks. Even though, to date, there is no communicable spreading of the virus. Still, because everyone is lining up, an individual will consider that his or her action or behaviour is rational. This is where the problem lies. As more and more people start to think that their actions are justifiable, they have stopped to think rationally. Consult legitimate sources of information and advice on the issues and not to be overwhelmed by information that is exaggerated and hearsay.


I want to stress that I am not saying that people should not be worried about this new strand of virus. I am saying that one needs to take this situation in the right context. Being overly worried about what you cannot control will only increase your anxieties and fear. Instead, focus on what you can control, such as your personal health and personal hygiene.  See below infographics from WHO that is self-explanatory.


There is a need for organisations to take an active role in the prevention of workplace bullying. They should not adopt a wait and see approach instead they need to re-evaluate their own policies and practices that perpetuate workplace bullying.


Individuals in the workplace can be bullied for almost anything such as physical outlook, the way they speak or sound and their sexual orientation. Creating awareness is a start to make workplace bullying an important issue to be discussed in the workplace.


Some of the references mentioned in this podcast are as follow:


Björkqvist, K., Österman, K., & Hjelt-Bäck, M. (1994). Aggression among university employees. Aggressive Behavior, 20, 173–184.


Bowling, N. A., & Beehr, T. A. (2006). Workplace harassment from the victim’s perspective: a theoretical model and meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 91:998–1012.


Coyne, I., Seigne, E., & Randall, P. (2000). Predicting workplace victim status from personality. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 9(3),335-349.
Einarsen, S. (1999). The nature and causes of bullying at work. International Journal of Manpower, 20, 16-27.


Einarsen, S., Raknes, B.I., & Matthiesen, S.B. (1994). Bullying and harassment at work and its relationship with work environment quality: An exploratory study. The European Work and Organizational Psychologist, 4, 381–401.


Harvey, S., & Keashly, L. (2003). Predicting the risk for aggression in the workplace: risk factors, self-esteem and time at work. Social Behavior & Personality, 31:807–14.


Hoel, H., Lewis, D., & Einarsdottir, A. (2014). The ups and downs of LGBs workplace experiences: discrimination, bullying and harassment of lesbian, gay and bisexual employees in Britain. Manchester: Manchester Business School.


Lee, R., & Brotheridge, C. (2006). When prey turns predatory: workplace bullying as a predictor of counter aggression/ bullying, coping, and wellbeing. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 15:352–77.


Leymann, H. (1993). Mobbing- psychoterror am Arbeitspaltz und wie man sich dagegen wehren kann (Mobbing – psychoterror in the workplace and how one can defend oneself). Reinbeck: Rowohlt.


Leymann, H. (1996). The content and development of mobbing at work. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 5, 165–184.


Liefooghe, A.P.D., & Mackenzie-Davey, K. (2001). ‘Accounts of Workplace Bullying: The Role of the Organization,’ European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 10, 375–392.


Matthiesen, S. B., & Einarsen, S. (2001). MMPI-2 configurations among victims of bullying at work. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 10:467–84.


Samnani, A., & Singh, P. (2014). Performance-enhancing compensation practices and employee productivity : The role of workplace bullying. Human Resource Management Review, 24, 5-16.


Seligman, M. E. P. (1972). “Learned helplessness”. Annual Review of Medicine. 23 (1): 407–412.


Zapf, D., & Gross, C. (2001). Conflict escalation and coping with workplace bullying: a replication and extension. European Journal of Work & Organizational Psychology, 10:497–522.


Case Laws

Majrowski v Guy’s and St Thomas’s NHS Trust [2006], UKHL, 34  Harvest Press Ltd v McCaffrey [1999] IRLR 778


Bickerstaff v Butcher NIIT/92/14

When was the last time that you felt disrespected? I am writing this blog post to address a common behaviour I have seen and experienced in recent years. This behaviour, I am driving at, is lateness. I am perplexed as to why some people think that it is ok to be late and not feel apologetic about it.

don't be late


Where has the old fashioned basic courtesy gone? I was taught from a very young age and then subsequently in my national service with a disciplined organisation that lateness is not ok. You get punished for being late. When I started working as a young adult, I make it a habit to be punctual or at least be 10 minutes early. To me, it just makes sense. You can never predict whether the transportation network that you so dependent on might fail you; thus when you give yourself ample time to get from point A to point B, you are not likely to feel stressed when you realise that your bus is late. Instead of getting anxious, you are likely to look for alternatives to get you to where you need to be. Of course, others might say that it just does not make sense to be early and then have to wait. This may be so, but I think sometimes those extra time can be useful, especially when you have arrived at the wrong location for an appointment. Being early can also help to calm your nerves, especially if you are to attend an important meeting.


Research has found that lateness is caused by timing biases which in turn affect the performance of a set task in a later time. For example, to arrive on time for work at 9:00am, you will have to look at how much time is needed for you to walk to the bus stop from your home, the waiting time, the time for the bus journey. In knowing the time required for each stage, you are able to estimate how much time you actually need overall. The timing biases occur when you underestimate or overestimate the timings. For example, you always allocate 10 minutes to walk from your home to the bus stop, however, you did not realise that this morning the road that you use every day has been blocked because of road repairs. To reach the bus stop, you will now need to make a detour that will add another 5 minutes to your walk which will have a knock-on effect on the overall journey. On the other hand, when you have overestimated the timing, knowing that a detour is still needed, you might end up arriving at the bus stop earlier. This might mean that you get to take an earlier bus that you might not have been aware of.


Therefore, not being late is a choice. It is time to take responsibility when you are late, stop giving excuses.


In this episode, I will share with you the reasons why I want to talk about workplace bullying and what are the different definitions of workplace bullying.


I will also touch briefly on legislation and the concept of intent as a way to determine workplace bullying. For more information on workplace bullying research, please visit https://www.iawbh.org/


Please find below the references for the research mentioned in the podcast.
Balducci, C., Alfano, V., & Fraccaroli, F. (2009). Relationships between mobbing at work and MMPI-2 personality profile, posttraumatic stress symptoms and suicidal ideation and behaviour. Violence and Victims, 24(1), 52-67.


Chappell, D., & Di Martino, V. (2006). Violence at Work (3rd Edn). International Labour Organisation, Geneva.https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—dgreports/—dcomm/—publ/documents/publication/wcms_publ_9221108406_en.pdf


Dahl, J., & Wilson, K. (2004). Acceptance and commitment therapy and the treatment of persons at risk for long-term disability resulting from stress and pain symptoms: A preliminary randomised trial. Behavior Therapy, 35(4), 785-801.


Einarsen, S., Hoel, H., Zapf, D., & Cooper, C. L. (2003). The concept of bullying at work: The European tradition. In S. Einarsen, H. Hoel, D. Zapf & C. L. Cooper (Eds.), Bullying and emotional abuse in the workplace: International perspectives in research and practice. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.


Einarsen, S., Hoel, H., Zapf, D., & Cooper, C. L. (2003). Bullying and Emotional Abuse in the Workplace: International Perspectives in Research and Practice. London: Taylor & Francis, 3–30.


Einarsen, S., Hoel, H., Zapf, D., & Cooper, C.L. (2011). ‘The concept of bullying and harassment at work: The European tradition’, in S. Einarsen, H, Hoel, D. Zapf and C.L. Cooper (eds), Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace: Developments in Theory Research and Practice. London: CRC Press.


Harrington, S., Rayner, C., & Warren, S. (2012). Too hot to handle -Trust and human resource practitioners implementation of anti-bullying policy. Human Resource Management Journal, 22(4), 392-408.


Harvey, S., & Keashly, L. (2003). Predicting the risk for aggression in the workplace: Risk factors, self-esteem and time at work. Social Behavior and Personality, 31, 807–814.


Hoel, H., Rayner, C., & Cooper, C. L. (1999). Workplace bullying. International Review of Industrial and Organizational Psychology 14: 195–230.


Hershcovis, S. M. (2010). ‘Incivility, social undermining, bullying…oh my!: A call to reconcile constructs within workplace aggression research’, Journal of Occupational behaviour, 32, 499-519.


Hogh, A., Mikkelsen, E.G., & Hansen, A.M. (2011). Individual consequences of workplace bullying/mobbing. In S. Einarsen, H. Hoel, D. Zapf & C.L. Cooper (Eds.), Bullying and harassment in the workplace. Developments in theory, research, and practice (pp. 107-128). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.


Kivimäki, K., Elovainio, M., & Vathera, J. (2000). Workplace bullying and sickness absence in hospital staff. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 57,656-660.


Lewis, D. (2004). Bullying at work: The impact of shame among university and college lecturers. British Journal of Guidance & Counselling, 32, 281–299.


Mitchell, R. J., & Bates, P. (2011). Measuring Health-Related Productivity Loss. Population Health Management, 14(2), 93-98.


Mowrer, O. H., & Viek, P. (1948). An experimental analogue of fear from a sense of helplessness. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 43, 193–200.


Ortega, A., Christensen, K. B., Hogh, A., Rugulies, R., & Borg, V. (2011). One year prospective study on the effect of workplace bullying on long-term sickness absence. Journal of  Nursing Management, 19:752–759.

Workplace bullying Judgement

The Case


On 20 December 2019, France Telecom was found guilty for a string of employee suicides. Its former CEO, Didier Lombard, together with his deputy, Louis-Pierre Wenes and the human resource director, Olivier Barberot were each sentenced to one year and fined for €15,000. They were found guilty for offences that took place in 2007 and 2008 when cost-cutting plans were put in place. This is the first time managers have been held criminally responsible for implementing a general strategy of bullying even if they have not dealt with the staff involved. The court ruled that those involved and the company were guilty of collective moral harassment. The court states that “the methods used to reach 22,000 job cuts were illegal.”


For two and a half months, the court listened to families of the victims and projected letters and photos on a giant screen. _I am committing suicide because of my work at France Telecom, it's the only cause._


The trial focuses on 39 cases between 2006 and 2009 with 19 of whom killed themselves, 12 who attempted to, and eight who suffered from severe depression or were signed off sick because of the pressure. Lombard admitted in court that he “made a blunder” in 2006 when he said he “wanted employees to leave by the door or by the window.” He also admitted to once saying there was “a fashion for suicide in the business.” 


My Thoughts


As someone who has researched in workplace bullying and still remains passionate about helping organisations how to tackle workplace bullying and helping those affected by workplace bullying, this case is significant.  However, reading the case, I can only imagine how trying it was for the families. To sit there through the proceedings to talk about what their loved ones have gone through.


I really hope that workplace bullying should not be a topical issue only when deaths or when people are affected psychologically that actions are then taken. (See ITV’s drama – Stick and Stones on workplace bullying  https://www.itv.com/hub/sticks-and-stones/2a5631)


This case of the France Telecom should be a wake-up call for organisations everywhere that doing nothing about workplace bullying is not good enough. An organisation has a duty of care to its employees, and when it does not do anything, it is equally complicit in the act.


What does this case mean in Asia?


How would this case impact Asia remains to be seen. Countries like Japan and Korea have now taken steps to tackle workplace bullying, which can only be a good thing. Countries like China (has already had a law on cyberbullying) and Singapore (has already had a harassment law), have measures on bullying. However, there are still lots to be done in Asia.


What organisations in Asia can start doing is to look at their company policies on workplace bullying. This is the first step to workplace bullying prevention. Creating awareness is equally important and this can be done through the on-boarding process of new employees and to have campaigns to inform employees the do and don’ts of workplace bullying.


For more information on how to prevent workplace bullying in the workplace, kindly email to austintay@omnipsi.com .