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Managing pressure at work: Let's take a cue from camels

Milking parlour is undoubtedly a workplace, where camels may experience workplace stress, just like humans

Gulf News

You saw it in Gulf News first ("Al Ain Dairy builds calming milking parlours," July 15). Apparently, camels refuse to yield milk when confronted with bright colours.

It puts a new slant on stress counselling for animals, which may sound like a strange idea at first.

But that milking parlour is undoubtedly a workplace, where camels may experience workplace stress, just like humans. Meanwhile it disproves the old theory that animals are colour blind.

This to me gives some validity to the practice of colour therapy, often dismissed as a folk myth (such as green for heart and lungs, blue for ears and throat, and indigo for eyesight).

But when you consider the confirmed benefits of light therapy, based on specific wavelengths of light, I think we may be talking about the visual equivalent of music therapy, where I have personally demonstrated the good effects of the sound bath. Perhaps a colour bath could do something similar.

The choice of colour scheme is known to make a difference to mood and atmosphere. Ask any theatre director. And good office design should always start with a thoughtful choice of colours.

I once counselled executives at a factory which made inflatable life rafts. The CEO was an ex-Naval officer, who believed in maintaining a no-nonsense atmosphere by having all the office walls painted "battle ship" grey.

As I can testify, morale was very low in that firm, though I can't honestly tell how much the colour scheme had to do with it.

It may have been the culture behind the colour scheme that was causing the trouble.

But either way, it contributed towards an environment that was visually somewhat less than comfortable, and staff turnover was, perhaps not surprisingly, high.

It was obvious that talented people with options were not going to stay, and the company, as a result, was left with managers who were not the best.

Unfortunately the CEO would not take advice, and nothing changed until he eventually retired.

Another of my clients clearly went too far the other way. He was actually in the design business, and felt strongly that his office environment should accurately reflect every modern trend.

One particular colourway was much in vogue that year — a strident red and silver combination that stood out impressively on cars and summer dresses. But as office wallpaper it was uncomfortably distracting.

I was flattered when he showed me his new toned-down colour-scheme a few weeks later. It meant he had registered that managing the work environment was all part of workplace stress management.

Have you been affected by strident décor in your office? Or charmed by a thoughtful colour-scheme? Leave your comment at gulfnews.com/business/opinion.

Colour therapy

  • Camels react badly to bright colours when giving milk
  • This mimics the workplace stress experienced by humans
  • Good colour schemes can relieve stressful environments.

The author is a BBC guest broadcaster and Motivational Speaker. She is CEO of an international stress management and employee wellbeing consultancy based in London. Contact them for proven stress strategies – www.carolespiersgroup.co.uk.

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