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Minimise Workplace Frustration With the 3S EQ Approach

Written by Karen Muggleton

If you’re flat out, crazy busy in your workplace, like most people I come across, and you’re experiencing some frustration, trust, or communication issues, read on for the 3S framework to up level your contribution to a functioning, rather than frustrating, workplace.

If you’re in a frustrating, rather than functioning workplace, you’re in good company. In all survey projects we run, communication, trust and frustration are recurring themes needing attention. When these drivers and detractors of business outcomes remain unaddressed, frustration increases, and performance, productivity and profits decline.

And you might find that another F word starts showing up. Does this sound familiar?

We know there’s a lot involved with mitigating frustration and enhancing trust and communication. A good place to start is with the conversations you’re having and the quality of those conversations. We recommend this 3S’s emotional intelligence (EQ) approach to bolster your conversation skills and business outcomes.

A big shout out to Six Seconds, the EQ Network, who created this 3 S's concept


To start with, we need to be asking questions that are appropriate to the level of safety and trust that we have with the person we’re communicating with. To build trust, try trust + one, which means slowly adding on, and asking a slightly more serious question than you may have previously. It’s also important to make sure there’s sufficient privacy and time for the seriousness of the conversation you’re having.


More serious conversations just need and deserve longer. I see this playing out all the time, and I hear comments from staff who want to share more ideas or concerns with their boss, but they don’t get adequate time with them to discern how far they can go in a conversation. I understand this dilemma, there’s just so much do to. But if something really needs attention, leaders have to find a way to carve out a little extra time. You need this time to demonstrate true empathy (the elixir to relationships), and the fertilizer to grow trust and connection. Building empathy is something you do want to speed up.


While surface/script style conversations are the norm “how was your weekend?”, “how are you today”, they generate little real connection. In addition, the depth of how you respond to questions from others, tells them what to expect next. If a person perceives you’re following a quick script, or something safe, of no relevance, you’re sending a message that this is just ‘an in passing’ connection, and that affects the level of trust that can be built. By doing this you may be unintentionally pushing away ideas and feelings. The other person might perceive the connection as not real or honest, and they’re unlikely to share anything of substance. When you’re real, sharing, asking, listening and recognizing more… the quality of our communication eventually gets to where it needs to. You find out more, and have the opportunity to address matters requiring attention.

Try using the 3 S’s and notice how your communication and trust grows. In time you will have built enough connection to transform frustration to curiosity to connection, then to useful information and problem-solving.

Kill Frustration

And finally, of all the skills they could mention, Gates and Buffett claim communication is the number one skill if you want to be successful, so put the 3S’s on your development list for 2023.

Link to article

General Protection Claims

General Protection claims


Just like a shield protects someone in battle, the general protections (GPs) claim process is the shield for employees, designed to protect employee rights and freedoms in the workplace.

The scary thing is, most managers and employers are usually familiar with unfair dismissal claims but can get caught out when it comes to the lesser-known GPs claims.

GPs claims occur when an employer takes adverse action against an employee (or prospective employee). Please note, a claim can be submitted by an employee during their employment (including prospective employees) and in the event of their employment being terminated, regardless of how long they may have been employed for. Meaning, a dismissal during a probation period isn’t always free from risk.

Here's a list of actions that can potentially give rise to a GPs claim through the Fair Work Commission:

  • terminating an employee as a result of them taking sick days
  • changing the employee’s work location or duties following them making a complaint about another colleague
  • placing an employee on a performance improvement plan after they disclose to you that they are experiencing mental health issues and it’s impacting their work

If you’re a business owner or manager it’s important to be aware of situations which can potentially give rise to a GPs claim when not handled effectively.

  • termination
  • disadvantaging an employee by altering their role/responsibilities
  • demotion
  • treating an employee differently to others
  • not allowing employees to access legal entitlements

Try these practical steps to avoid potential claims of this nature:

  • Have a conversation framework with your employees that includes weekly/fortnightly 1:1 catch ups. This means issues are surfaced and addressed as they arise and feedback becomes a normal part of your conversations.
  • Keep records of emails, letters, notes of meetings and any actions taken (GPs claims have a reverse onus of proof, meaning employers have to demonstrate reasons for the actions taken rather than the employee having to establish that adverse treatment occurred in the workplace).
  • To assist with role clarity update position descriptions or success profiles as they change.
  • Have clear policies that let both the employer and employee know what the expectations are regarding topics such as leave, lodging complaints, flexible work arrangements and workplace health and safety obligations.
  • Provide employment contracts to help avoid confusion around entitlements and terms and conditions.
  • When possible, consider the timing of communicating changes or decisions using your awareness of what might be going on for your employee/s at that time.

Prevention is better than cure, and communication is key. In the absence of clear reasoning and information, employees may fill in the blanks themselves and incorrectly assume things have happened as a result of them exercising a workplace right.

Use the 3 S emotional intelligence (EQ) approach above to ensure your lines of communication are sufficient. Even in instances where an employer hasn’t breached a protected workplace right but the employee believes this is the case, a claim might occur.

*This is not an exhaustive list of adverse actions and protected workplace rights.

If you or one of your staff need to mitigate these performance and profit detractors in your workplace, click here for a no obligation chat about our very affordable People Success Path Programs. The next intakes commence on 16 March.

 Keen to know how to protect and fast track results in 2023?