Conflict is a normal part of the workplace experience and can actually increase the cohesiveness of work groups when dealt with effectively. However, most workers and administrators circumvent conflict if possible and the thought of having workplace conflict makes people shake. What is about conflict that makes people uncomfortable? There are several reasons that people avoid conflict if they can.

Conflict is often associated with fighting and arguing. In the workplace, workers try to maintain at atmosphere that is devoid of negativity. Since we link conflict with destructiveness, workers and administrators steer clear. This is not always true. There is certainly conflict that results in arguing and extreme negativity. However, conflict does not have to be disparaging.  Conflict handled civilly is the best way to obtain the greatest outcomes for workers and the organization as a whole.

Both in and out of the work world, people want other people to like them. Whether we admit it or not, much of the behavior in the workplace, stems around getting others to like us. This is often the reason we avoid conflict. Involvement in conflict puts likability at risk. Conflict does not mean we like or dislike the person, but rather it means we are having a disagreement over a behavior or an action that caused concern. Conflict and liking someone are not connected. I have had conflict with some of my favorite colleagues. Likewise, I have not had conflict with colleagues I did not like. As such, workers and administrators need to realize that conflict does not impact whether we are liked or not, but unresolved conflict can be detrimental for the entire organization.

Conflict is often seen as being directed at us for personal reasons and as such, we take it personally.  We allow the conflict to impact our view of our personal selves. In environments where there is persistent workplace aggression, acts of aggression may be directed at us for personal reasons. However, in normal environments, healthy conflict is not personal. Typically, it is about a behavior or action. It is not directed toward at us for personal reasons. Conflict needs to be dealt with in a professional manner and work conflict does not have to influence our personal selves.

More often than not, conflict is avoided because workers and administrators just do not have the skills to deal with it in a healthy way. Conflict resolution is not something we just have, but we have to learn the skills to deal with conflict effectively. With skill development and practice, workers and administrators learn how to deal with and grow from conflict. Conflict resolution skills are vital to have to resolve conflict rather than letting it fester.

If you or someone you know is experiencing persistent workplace aggression or need help with conflict resolution, please contact me at jankircher@jankircher.com or (320) 309-2360. You can also visit my website at jankircher.com. Help is out there.

The political arena has been interesting to watch.  There has been a significant increase in the use violent rhetoric as well as vicious personal attacks.  Even more disturbing is the complacent and docile acceptance of this by Americans.  With this kind of behavior publicized and tolerated, is it a wonder that there is increased aggression in the workplace and more workplace bullies?

 Politicians have always criticized one another.  However, until recently some superficial civility was exercised when confronting one another.  This is not the case anymore.  Any communication etiquette that we once had is now gone.  There are no limitations as to what one can say to another human being even if it promotes hate. 

The atmosphere of today’s world is that people say whatever they want to one another without any barriers including using language that is racist, sexist, heterosexist, ageist, ableist, and etc.  The use of derogatory language and rhetoric aimed at humiliating and shaming others is now normal and may even be expected.  The media and our current political candidates avidly reinforce the acceptability of disparaging and belittling of others. 

We have developed the understanding that our own thoughts and feelings are the only thing that matters and we can express those however, we see fit.  I no longer have to worry about the impact of what I am saying on others.  Self-expression and free speech are important because we operate under the assumption that “I am the only one that matters and my words take precedent over others feelings.”  However, this thinking is extremely flawed and problematic.  It encourages hostility and resentment that overflows into the workplace causing workplace aggression and violence.

What we say and think affects the overall environment we live in.  We are all interdependent in society and in the workplace.  As such, how we treat and communicate to one another matters.  We need to remember to think before we speak and most importantly, we do not have to speak everything we think.  We can communicate our thoughts and feelings in a way that is not offensive and that does not promote hate.  We still have the right to free speech, but saying what we want in a respectful and considerate way is the right thing to do.

Today, I challenge each of us be kinder and more thoughtful in how we use words and to call out people who are using offensive language.  All of us need to start doing more of the right thing. 

If you or someone you know is experiencing persistent workplace aggression, please contact me at jankircher@jankircher.com or at (320) 309-2360. You can also visit my website at jankircher.com. Help is out there.