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Please contact the developer of Sustainable Life Counselling:

Helen Murdoch

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Mobile: 0404309302




Restructures, Cutbacks and Competitive Working Environments – Creating a Win/Win Workplace Environment with Good Communication Techniques

(Pixabay, 2017)

    This morning’s jog along the Townsville strand with some friends prompted a conversation about restructures that occur in the workplace. Recently, someone had experienced an organizational restructure, something that seems to be a common occurrence in workplaces these days. The nature of the business world is a competitive environment, cut backs and restructures seem to be a necessary part of business life in competitive markets. One result of the workplace restructure is that it creates an environment of competitiveness amongst employees. Each individual in the organization is preparing themselves to fight for their position. Individuals are operating in an environment of fear; fear of losing their job, fear of what the future may bring, fear of underperforming and fear of connecting with peers who are potentially a threat to an individual’s position. Whilst the restructure is happening, this type of environment is a Win/Lose environment in which individuals in the organization are fighting to maintain their position or reapplying for newly created positions. In this environment individuals are potentially operating in a state of fear in which the fight, flight or freeze response can kick in, depending on an individual’s existing beliefs about the world. However, once the restructure is complete and potentially you are an individual who has managed to survive the restructure, operating in a fear state no longer serves it’s purpose either for the individual or the organization wanting to maximize productivity from it’s employees.

    After the restructure individuals and organisations are under pressure to make the new working environment work as efficiently and productively as possible. However, individuals have operated in a fear state during the restructure and may need some assistance to get back to an environment in which employees can work together to achieve optimal outcomes for the organization. This is where teamwork and communication need to begin to operate in a Win/Win environment rather than the Win/Lose environment that was created during the restructure. Individuals who have lost their jobs will need to seek individual counselling to assist them through the process of grief and loss and careers counselling to get them back into the workforce. Employees who have managed to maintain their position are possibly now in situations in which they are unfamiliar with their position or wondering how they may be able to achieve organizational targets given that they have fewer resources. This is where preventative counselling and psychoeducation can help. I encourage anyone who has experienced a restructure to seek counselling and to read the rest of my blog to get some insight into some strategies that might assist in the aftermath of a restructure.

    A preventative measure that can assist to protect mental health and provide a Win/Win workplace is learning how to communicate effectively. If individuals can find a Win/Win situation when an issue or problem arises, they are then on their way to protecting everyone’s mental health that operates within the organisation. Individuals can begin to move from a fear state in which tension and hyper reactivity may have become the norm into an environment that is less threatening by working on good communication skills that create a Win/Win environment. Stephen R. Covey in his book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, outlines, “Win/Win is a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions. Win/Win means that agreements or solutions are mutually beneficial, mutually satisfying. With a Win/Win solution, all parties feel good about the decision and feel committed to the action plan. Win/Win sees life as a cooperative, not a competitive arena.” Covey (2004, p. 207)


(, 2017)

    So how can individuals achieve Win/Win outcomes within an organisation? One way is to understand that there are a number of communication styles including aggressive, passive/aggressive, passive and assertive. The style most suitable to a Win/Win outcome is the assertive style of communication. All individuals alternate between the styles and in some instances aggressive or passive styles are suitable to the circumstances, as in the restructuring phase, but in professional environments the best style that can facilitate a Win/Win outcome is the assertive style. You can examine which style you mostly use by viewing this short You Tube clip: Communication Styles Assertive Passive Aggressive and then by examining the table below and ticking the boxes that most apply to you:


Paterson (2000)

    So once you have examined your style you may want some tips on how to be more assertive. This short You Tube clip provides some ideas about how to communicate assertively: How to Speak Assertively With I Statements.

    Always remember that your tone of voice and body language also play a role in assertive communication. Language, body language, eye contact and tone of voice need to match. Relaxed and open body language, a steady gaze and a calm tone of voice will bring it all together. Learning how to relax will assist with your ability to be an assertive communicator. Meditation, yoga, tai chi, mindfulness, prayer etc. can all help individuals remain in a calm state ready to use these new assertiveness techniques.

    I hope this helps you achieve Win/Win situations in the workplace. There are many more helpful hints on the internet if you Google assertiveness. Oh and remember it takes practice!

Helen, Sustainable Life Counselling, Mobile: 0404309302. 24 August, 2017.




Covey, Stephen R. (2004). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Peo;le. New York, NY: Free Press.

Paterson, Randy J. (2000). The Assertiveness Workbook: How to Express Your Ideas and Stand Up for Yourself J. Gastwirth (Ed.)  

Pixabay (Producer). (2017). Free stock photo of competition, dispute, fight. Retrieved from https:// (Producer). (2017). Free stock photo of colleagues, cooperation, fist bump. Retrieved from https://

Shakiba, Eleanor (Producer). (2014). How to Speak Assertively with I Statements.

You, I Am About (Producer). (2017). Communication Styles Assertive Passive Aggressive.