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Handling Conflict in the Workplace


Handling Conflict in the Workplace Introduction Conflicts are an inevitable part of life. In work With your family With your friends The way you handle these ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Handling Conflict in the Workplace

Handling Conflictin the Workplace
  • Conflicts are an inevitable part of life.
  • In work
  • With your family
  • With your friends
  • The way you handle these conflicts can have a
    major impact on your success, your happiness, and
    your fulfillment in life.

  • In the workshops that follow, you will
  • Explore several different aspects of conflict and
    learn important skills that can help you manage
    conflicts effectively
  • Youll see how to get a handle on conflict so
    that it can work to your advantage
  • Youll discover how to make many conflicts work
    to the mutual advantage of both you AND your

Lets Get Started
  • To get a sense of your current approach to
    conflict, try the self assessment on the handout
    I will give you now.
  • For each statement, mark the response that best
    applies to you.
  • Dont spend a long time pondering each answer.
    Just choose the answer that seems most
    appropriate right now.

Your Results
  • How many times did you check Often or
  • Although there are no absolute rules that apply
    in every conflict, each of the 12 statements
    describes a response that tends to produce a
    negative outcome in a situation.
  • In the next eight workshops, youll find many
    suggestions and activities that can help you
    identify productive ways of handling conflict and
    put them into practice in your own life.

The Eight Workshops
  • 1 Use and Abuse of Conflict
  • 2 Receiving Advice and Criticism
  • 3 Giving Advice and Criticism
  • 4 Aggressiveness vs. Assertiveness
  • 5 Handling Anger
  • 6 Preventing Conflict
  • 7 Managing Conflict
  • 8 Being a Peacemaker

Workshop 1 Use and Abuse of Conflict
  • Read the scenario on Page 3

What Is Conflict?
  • Conflict can build up over time, or it can flare
    up suddenly.
  • It can be based on genuine disagreements about
    the job, but it also can be fueled by many other
  • Pressures that the individuals are feeling
  • Frustrations
  • Fears
  • Personal dislikes, etc.

Conflict Defined
  • A conflict exists when one persons attempt to
    reach his or her goals interferes with another
    persons attempt to do the same.
  • Ex. Ambers goal is to do her job well, and she
    sees her efforts being blocked by Frank.
  • His goal may be to prevent his cherished way of
    doing things from changing.
  • Frank patronizes Amber she threatens and calls
    him a name.

  • Of course, conflict doesnt have to be so open or
  • Perhaps the nastiest conflict in organizations
    (and personal interactions) are the ones papered
    over by smiles and hearty greetings.
  • If you feel that someone who pretends to like you
    is really stabbing you in the back, you ARE in

Disagreement vs. Conflict
  • Its important to realize that mere disagreement
    is not conflict.
  • Ex. Say that Brie Watters is advocating Plan A,
    and Dan Demenge is advocating Plan B.
  • At a company meeting you both present your
    arguments, the two of you disagree strongly, and
    maybe even yell at each other.
  • This isnt necessarily conflictwhy?

Personality Traits That Promote Conflict
  • Are there some types of people who, by their very
    nature, rub others the wrong way?
  • I.E. does their personality make them more prone
    to conflict?
  • Psychologists and organizational theorists
    believe this to be true.

Characteristics That Promote Conflict
  • Authoritarian attitudes
  • Arrogance
  • Dogmatism-insistence on the truth of a belief
    that cannot be proved
  • Strong need to control things
  • Fear of uncertainty that is, wanting to be
    absolutely sure about ones beliefs, ones
    prestige in the organization, etc.

Consequences of Conflict
  • People who study organizations have described
    many damages caused by conflict
  • Energy is diverted from important goals.
  • Tasks that depend on cooperation dont get done
  • Both parties feel increased stress and
    frustrations, which can effect job performance.
  • The losers in a conflict often feel demeaned or
    not respected, affecting commitment to the

Consequences of Conflict
  • Often conflict spreads to other people, poisoning
    many relationships. Morale declines, job
    satisfaction suffers, suspicion mounts, and
    absenteeism rises.
  • As hostilities escalate, some people may get
    fired others may quit. In either case, turnover
  • Clients/customers notice that somethings wrong
    in the organization and take their business
  • Activity 1.1. Word process your answers. DETAIL
    is expected!! (Dont forget to put your name on
    your sheet.)

Is Conflict Always Bad?
  • Lets look at some ways in which conflictif
    handled properlymay actually benefit an
  • As youve seen conflict involves competing goals,
    but sometimes its natural in any organization to
    have them.
  • Ex. A company research director wants to spend
    money to develop new products. The companys
    controller, meanwhile, wants to hold down costs.
  • Since these goals contradict, this could lead to

Is Conflict Always Bad?
  • Its clear the company should develop new
    products, and it should exercise some control
    over spending.
  • Clearly, in this case, the company needs to find
    a balance between these goals.
  • If some degree of conflict between the researcher
    and controller helps the company find the right
    balance, in essence the conflict was useful.

Conflict and Creativity
  • Conflict can make competing individuals, and
    those around them, think harder and more
  • It tends to increase both the number of ideas
    considered AND the originality of those ideas.
  • In our example
  • The research director may think of innovative
    ways to design and test new products without
    spending a lot of money.
  • Meanwhile, the controller may be inspired by the
    conflict to find more ways to stretch the budget.

Other Benefits of Conflict
  • Focusing of attention-specifically to problems
    that need addressing.
  • Stimulation of internal change-getting rid of
    outdated procedures, etc.
  • Personal growth-people may learn new things about
    work, life, and relationships they can apply in
    the future.
  • Greater understanding of other employees.
  • Excitement-life would be boring without it!
  • Greater energy and initiative-excited workers
    produce more.

One Last Benefit
  • Youve often heard of the problems caused by
    holding your feelings in.
  • Strong negative emotions can fester if you
    suppress them.
  • Conflict gives you a chance to vent those
    feelingsto clear the air.
  • Of course, if you want to make things better than
    worse, you have to vent your feelings in the
    right way.
  • Add Act. 1.2 to Act. 1.1 and PRINT.
  • Go to the Web site http//www.qvctc.commnet.edu/c
    lasses/ssci121/questnr.html (Cancel the log in
    screen if it comes up.) Print off the
    questionnaire, read the directions, and take the

Constructive vs. Destructive Conflict
  • Beneficial conflicts are often called
    constructive conflicts.
  • Harmful conflicts are said to be destructive.
  • The basic difference?
  • Good conflicts build up an organizations
    strengths while bad conflicts tear things down.

Elements of Constructive Conflict
  • The problem is seen as a mutual problem.
  • Neither party says, Im okYOU are the one with
    the problem.
  • The parties pursue a win-win outcome, in which
    both parties gain, rather than win-lose.
  • Both people express their ideas openly and
    communicate effectively.
  • Each person takes the other person seriously and
    treats him/her with respect.

Elements of Constructive Conflict
  • Both people feel they have been understood and
  • Both people feel they have influenced the
  • Both people are committed to the agreement they
    finally reach.
  • Relationships among the parties are strengthened
    by the process of finding a solution.

Checking Your Knowledge
  • On a sheet of paper, answer the following
    questions TRUE or FALSE.
  • For the good of the organization, employees and
    managers should try to avoid conflicts whenever
  • Conflict is about opposing or mutually
    incompatible goals.
  • Even if people are behaving normallynot yelling
    and screamingthere may be significant conflict
    going on.

Checking Your Knowledge
  1. A loud argument is a clear sign of conflict.
  2. Dogmatic people are not likely to engage in
  3. Even if youre in the right, winning a conflict
    is not necessarily good for the organization.
  4. The right kind of conflict can make people more
  5. Conflicts always damage personal relationships.

Workshop 2 Receiving Advice and Criticism
Receiving Advice and Criticism
  • Read the scenario on P. 12
  • Have you ever had someone offer you unsolicited
    advice or criticism, which could be very helpful,
    but you get so annoyed that you cant really
    benefit from it?
  • For most of us, a reaction like Jacks is
  • We take pride in our work, skills, savvy, etc.
  • When someone points out were not doing something
    right, we feel weve been attacked. Its a blow
    to our self-esteem.

Possible Reactions
  • Feel a surge of anger or embarrassment.
  • Strike back verbally at the person whos
    criticizing us.
  • Mentally withdraw from the whole affair, tuning
    it out.

High Self-Esteem
  • How many of you feel that you have pretty good
  • According to psychologists, people with high
    self-esteem are the ones more likely to react
    negatively to advice.
  • In other words, if you think youre highly
    competent, youre apt to resent any implication
    that you cant handle a situation on your own.

Defensive Reactions
  • Maybe you feel the advice stems from disrespect.
  • Maybe youre annoyed that the person thought you
    needed help, even if the person approached you
    in a friendly manner.
  • Defensive reactions, however, often keep us from
    responding rationally.
  • Not only do we fail to benefit from the advice,
    but the situation may get worse because were
    upset by whats said. (Many conflicts start this
  • Do Act. 2.1 on P. 14.

Something To Think About
  • Jeffrey Fisher and Arie Nadler did research to
    identify conditions that produce negative
    reactions to assistance.
  • One of their interesting findings is that
    negative reactions are stronger if the giver of
    help is similar to the recipient in terms of
    status, age, gender, etc.
  • This makes sense. You expect your supervisor to
    know more than you do, so its no threat to your
    ego if he/she does!

Learning to Listen Four Key Steps
  • When we respond defensively to help or criticism,
    our emotions have one immediate effect
  • They prevent us from really listening to what the
    other person is trying to tell us.
  • If its potentially good information, we lose the
    opportunity to benefit from it.
  • How can we improve our ability to really listen
    to messages, even ones that would hurt our
  • The following four steps can help

Step 1 Put aside your ego as much as possible
  • Separate your inner self from criticism about a
    particular task.
  • Remind yourself that only that task is in
    question, NOT your overall performance
  • And certainly not your worth as a human being.

Step 2 Suspend judgment about what you hear
  • Dont decide immediately whether the other person
    is right or wrong.
  • Dont jump to conclusions about the other
    persons motives and attitudes towards you.
  • You may think someone is acting stand-offish and
    superior to you when in actuality they may just
    be shy.

Step 3 Listen hard to the advice itself-the
information contained in the message
  • Concentrate fully on what the speaker is telling
  • If youre interrupted in the midst of an
    unrelated activity, put that aside for the
  • If you cant give the person your full attention,
    ask him or her if you can discuss the matter at a
    better time.

Step 4 Use active listening techniques
  • In other words, take an active role in the
    conversation to make sure youve understood.
  • Paraphrase what the speaker has said and ask if
    your version is correct.
  • What Im hearing is that you wish I would
    automatically look for something else to do when
    I finish a task. Is that correct?
  • Ask further questions to clarify any murky
  • Read the techniques on P. 16.
  • Do Act. 2.2. Word process your responses. Make
    sure each answer is phrased how you would
    actually respond.

Encouraging Feedback
  • It is possible to do more than just listen
    wellyou can actually encourage people to come to
    you with useful feedback.
  • If your boss and co-workers feel you are not
    approachable, they are likely to hold back with
    their advice until youve really crossed the line
    and someone must set you straight!
  • By this point, the seeds of conflict are already

Encouraging Feedback-Heres How
  • Be approachable let others know that you will
    listen if they have good advice.
  • Convey your attentiveness with eye contact.
  • Use positive body language.
  • For instance, keep your posture relaxed dont
    cross your arms and fidget.
  • Dont make excuses or blame others
  • Those reactions just sound defensive.

Encouraging Feedback-Heres How
  • Thank the person for his or her help.
  • Even a nasty critic will be disarmed if you seem
    genuinely grateful.
  • If appropriate, ask for further suggestions.
  • If you do adopt someones advice, tell him or her
    that you have done so.
  • Even if you dont, tell them that you considered
    them seriously.
  • In addition to getting good advice, you may be
    amazed at how your relationships with others
    dramatically improve.
  • Do Act. 2.3. Word process your responses.

Workshop Wrap-up
  • Defensiveness often prevents us from responding
    well to advice or criticismor even truly
    listening to what the other person is trying to
    tell us.
  • We can improve listening by setting aside our
    egos, suspending judgment, listening carefully to
    the information in the message, and using active
    listening techniques to make sure weve
  • By becoming approachable, attentive, and grateful
    listeners, we can encourage people to come to us
    with good advice.

Workshop 3
  • Giving Advice and Criticism

Constructive vs. Destructive Comments
  • Read the scenario on P. 20
  • After reading the scenario, it looks, at first,
    like Raisa is the one that is at fault for the
  • Certainly she shouldve focused on not getting
    defensive and listen to the advice she was
  • However, Jana bears some responsibility.
  • She implied Raisa was neglecting customers.
  • She threw in criticism about Raise being late.
  • She suggested Raisa couldnt remember procedure.
  • Janas intentions were good, her remarks were not

7 Elements of Constructive Criticism
  • Nonjudgmental-advice doesnt convey judgment of
    the other person. It doesnt say Youre wrong.
  • Focused on the issue, not the person
  • Framed as a mutual problem-not the problem of
    just one person alone.
  • Balanced-it balances the positive and negative
    comments. Ex. I can see youre working very hard
    and things are going well overall, but theres
    one small thing we should look at.

7 Elements of Constructive Criticism
  • Focused on the present-doesnt bring up some
    issue that happened in the past.
  • Empathetic-it shows you care about how the other
    person is feeling.
  • Open to discussion-the speaker conveys that the
    listener may have a different-and possibly
    valid-perspective on the situation.
  • Read the Watch Your Language! box on P. 22
  • Do Act. 3.1 P. 23-word process your answers

Dealing with Personal Behavior
  • Okadvice should be nonjudgmental and focus on
    the ISSUE rather than the person.
  • BUT what if the issue IS the person?
  • FIRSTyou can simply try to avoid the person
    whenever possible. If you dont have to work with
    him/her, just stay away.
  • SECONDif you do have to work with them, remind
    yourself that they may have some reason for their
    ill temper
  • Perhaps their home life is terrible, etc.
  • You dont have to invent excuses for them, but
    empathy requires that you try to give them the
    benefit of the doubt.

Dealing with Personal Behavior
  • THIRDunderstand that youre not actually
    objecting to them as a person.
  • What you really want to change is their behavior.
  • FINALLYif you do decide to offer the person some
    advice, you can focus on specific suggestions
    that would make the environment better for
    everyone, including the person.
  • That is, you can try to show him/her how they
    would benefit from changing the behavior.
  • Act. 3.2 Word process your answers and SAVE.
    Well add more to this file in a moment.

Using I Messages
  • One verbal technique that can help you frame
    advice constructively is the use of I messages.
  • An I message is one that avoids directly
    accusing the other person by making clear that
    the reactions youre stating are your own.
  • You can generally accomplish this by using
    first-person singular pronouns I, me,
    myself, and so on.
  • Look at the examples on P. 26. Can you see why
    you messages tend to make the listener feel

Using I Messages
  • An I message helps avoid directing so much
    blame at the other person.
  • Also, with an I message, you can get your own
    feelings out in the open, helping the listener
    comprehend your motivation.
  • This improves mutual understanding
  • It increases the chance that the listener will
    take your comments to heart.

Is Humor Advisable?
  • Some people are adept at presenting their
    criticism with a dose of humor.
  • They can make their point gently without arousing
    the listeners defenses.
  • Hey, Mark, I thought I was supposed to be the
    one with all the goofy ideas around here. Are you
    trying to horn in on my territory?
  • If youre good at it, you can often use it to
    your advantage.
  • If youre not so good, or the situation is tense,
    youre probably better off avoiding attempts at
  • The joke may be taken the wrong way.

Identifying I Messages
  • Act. 3.3-Add your responses to your Act. 3.2
    file. Yes or nois it an I message?
  • You dont know what youre doing here, do you?
  • Let me do thatI know a better way.
  • Personally, Im worried about some of the
    consequences of this plan.
  • I think you should be fired!
  • To me, it seems there might be a better

Identifying I Messages
  • Im not sure I understand the reasoning behind
    your proposal.
  • Let me guess You messed up because you were
    totally lost.
  • After recommending you for the job, I felt let
    down when it seemed like you werent giving it
    your best effort.
  • Can you help me get a handle on this? Im having
    trouble seeing what went wrong.
  • Im just fed up with your stupid behavior.
  • Now, print out Act. 3.1, 3.2 3.3-with your name
    on it!

Preparing to Get It Right Facts, Time, Place
  • In addition to the way you frame your advice or
    criticism, some other important factors help
    determine whether it will be effective
  • Accuracy-before you criticize or advise, make
    sure you have the facts exactly right. A mistaken
    detail can make you seem ignorant.
  • Clarity Specificity-Delivery your information
    clearly. Dont leave the person guessing about
    your meaning. They may feel their being
    criticized for no good reason.

Preparing to Get It Right Facts, Time, Place
  • Time and Place-your choice of time and place has
    a crucial impact on the effectiveness of your
  • If you are discussing a particular event, speak
    up soon enough after so the event is fresh in the
    persons mind.
  • Yet, you want to wait long enough for the person
    to have calmed down.
  • In most cases, you want to be alone with the
    person so you dont embarrass them in front of

Preparing to Get It Right Facts, Time, Place
  • How can you make sure your comments are accurate,
    clear, and delivered at the right time and place?
  • The answer is that you should prepare well in
  • Gather all the information you can about the
    situation and its causes.
  • Think carefully about how to phrase your remarks.
  • Then plan the best time/place to talk to them.
  • Do Act. 3.4 in your packet. Write your responses
    in the packet.

Workshop Wrap-up
  • To help people hear you without undue
    defensiveness, frame your advice in a way that
    allows them to preserve their self-esteem.
  • Even when you object to someones personal
    behavior, you should focus your comments on
    specific behavioral changes that might improve
    the environment for everyone.
  • I messages, which avoid accusations and show
    that the reactions youre stating are your own,
    can help you frame advice constructively.
  • Before offering advice or criticism, you should
    prepare in advance so that your remarks are
    accurate, clear, and delivered at the best time
    and place.

Act. 3.1 Exemplary Answers
  • 1) Youre always late. Why cant you get to work
    on time?
  • From Cody Z. You have been late to work a few
    times now. Is there a problem or anything I can
    do to help so you can make it to work on time?
  • 2) Thats just a silly idea. Its not going to
    work, and the boss will be mad at us.
  • From Matt C. I dont know if that idea will
    work. Maybe we could try something else.

Act. 3.1-Exemplary Answers
  • 3) If you werent always so hyper, you would see
    we cant rush this job. There is too much at
  • From Cameron E. We should not rush through this
    job because there are a lot of things at stake.
  • 4) We did it your way last time, and everybody
    said the result was a disaster. Stop trying to
    run everything!
  • From Angela G. We did it your way last time.
    Maybe we could try mine this time.

Act. 3.1-Exemplary Answers
  • 5) Why dont you wait for help from someone who
    knows how to do this right?
  • From Brie W. I think that next time it would be
    beneficial to ask someone who does this kind of
    work before doing it.
  • 6) I dont understand why you ever thought this
    plan would work.
  • From Tony Nelson I cant see how this plan will
    work. Could you explain?

Act. 3.1-Exemplary Answers
  • 7) This mess is so typical of you. Its
    completely disorganized. Cant you ever pull
    yourself together?
  • From Nishah Dupuis Maybe try and stay more
    focused on the task at hand. That way it will
    stay more organized.
  • 8) The boss ripped this proposal apart, pointing
    out lots of mistakes that you made, so youre
    going to have to do it all over.
  • From Charlotte Schmid The boss made a couple
    notes on this proposal. Could you look through
    and correct the mistakes he found?

Workshop 4
  • Aggressiveness vs. Assertiveness

Aggressiveness vs. Assertiveness
  • Read the scenario on P. 31.
  • In the scenario, Louis and Juan wanted to make
    the same point about their working conditions.
  • Juan managed to get the point across effectively.
  • Louis, however, succeeded in only irritating the
    union rep.

Aggressiveness vs. Assertiveness
  • In our scenario, Louiss remarks were aggressive.
  • In conveying his own views, Louis said things
    that he knew might hurt Drummond.
  • He challenged the mans self-esteem by implying
    he was foolish, neglectful, etc.
  • Louiss tone was hostile and sneering.
  • Not surprisingly, Drummonds reaction was

Alternatives to Aggressiveness
  • Being passive is one obvious alternative.
  • Louis could have chosen not to speak up at all.
  • In that case, however, he would have lost the
    opportunity to help himself or his coworkers
    resolve a significant problem.
  • Juans assertive approach was better, however.
  • He put forth his own ideas, expressed his
    feelings, and conveyed his right to be taken
  • At the same time, however, he showed respect for
    the rights and feelings of others.

Aggressiveness without Words
  • Aggressive people often to the following
  • Clench their fists
  • Point their fingers at others.
  • Stand with hands on hips and feet apart.
  • Narrow their eyes.
  • Keep their mouths tight and eyes fixed, showing
    little expression.
  • Raise their voices.
  • Well look at the nonverbal cues of assertive
    behavior later in this workshop

AggressionWhere Does it Come From?
  • Aggressiveness often appears when people feel
    they are being threatened in some way.
  • If someone insults you, you are likely to respond
    with a similarly barbed comment.
  • Psychologists have different opinions about
    whether we inherit aggressive tendencies from our
  • Psychologists do agree, however, that specific
    patterns of aggressive behavior are not
  • Rather, these patterns are learned.

AggressionWhere Does it Come From?
  • A man who reacts to criticism by shoving his
    critic in the chest probably learned that
    response in childhoodand never outgrew it.
  • A woman known for sarcastic remarks in meetings
    may have learned early in life to protect herself
    with scornful words.
  • As these examples show, the behaviors we learn
    early in life are often not the best.
  • We CAN, however, modify them.

Did You Know?
  • Workplace violencean ultimate expression of
    aggressionis a growing concern.
  • According to the Nat. Inst. For Occ. Safety
  • Homicide is the second leading cause of death on
    the job. Among women, its number one.
  • On average, 20 workers are murdered every week in
    the U.S.
  • About 18,000 U.S. workers are the victims of
    assault each week.
  • While not all of these stem from conflicts
    between co-workers, there is more and more worry
    about disgruntled employees erupting into

How Aggressive Am I?
  • Turn to P. 34 in your packet.
  • Do Act. 4.1.
  • Rate yourself on a scale of 1-5 in each of the 14

Do You Have a Script for Aggression?
  • Some psychologists believe that each of us
    creates a mental script for aggression.
  • Like a movie script, it tells us what to say and
    do in provocative situations.
  • We have it memorized and use it all too often
    when the triggering situation pops up.
  • We follow the script blindly, playing out our
    aggression even if the consequences are likely
  • Luckily, because the script is learned, we can
    unlearn it. The first step is simple

Characteristics of Assertive Behavior
  • Now that you understand what it means to be
    assertive rather than aggressive, how do you
    think assertive people express themselves?
  • They do speak up they are definitely not
  • But somehow they assert their opinions and their
    rights without causing offense.
  • Following are some specific techniques used by
    assertive people

Characteristics of Assertive Behavior
  • Direct eye contact
  • Posture that is firm and straight but not stiff
  • Serious but not severe facial expressions
  • Gestures that reinforce the message without
  • Objective (not judgmental) language
  • Short, to-the-point sentences
  • Honest statements of feelings and desires
  • Frequent use of I messages
  • Voice that is steady and strong without being
  • Willingness to listen to other people

Assertiveness Activities
  • Do Act. 4.2 P. 36-Practice Your Assertiveness
  • Go to the Web site http//www.testcafe.com/sert/?
    affil and take the Assertiveness Assessment.
  • On the same sheet where you typed up Act. 4.2,
    type what your strongest and weakest
    assertiveness areas are. Print off your results.
    You will attach this to the assignment you are
    handing in.

Perceiving Aggressiveness in Others
  • Earlier you learned that aggressiveness is often
    used as a defensive measure.
  • The point to remember, however, is that our
    defensive reaction is based on what we perceive
    someone elses intentions to be.
  • We may react negatively when the other person had
    no idea that he/she was insulting us.
  • Maybe they had no idea you were sensitive about a
    certain topic.
  • To avoid this, be careful about interpreting
    other peoples words or behavior.

Gender Differences
  • In our culture, men tend to use both aggressive
    and assertive language more often than women do.
  • This is part of the way our culture defines
    appropriate gender roles.
  • Ex. When ordering lunch, take a look at how a man
    and a woman might order a hamburger
  • Man- Give me a hamburger, medium rare.
  • Woman- Id like a hamburger, and can you make it
    medium rare, please?

Gender Differences
  • The fact that we expect a certain style of
    language from men and women can lead us into
  • Imagine youre working with a new person youve
    never met, and that person contradicts you by
    saying, No, thats wrong, itll never work.
  • If this was a man, you might accept this as just
    his brusque way of communicating.
  • If this was a woman, you may think shes overly
    aggressive and hostilein which case you might
    respond defensively.

Culture Differences
  • Different cultures tolerate different amounts of
    verbal aggressiveness and assertiveness.
  • For the most part, American culture values
  • Because our culture has so much respect for
    rugged individualism, we often tolerate some
    outright aggression if we think its for a good

Culture Differences
  • In contrast, many East Asian cultures place much
    more value on cooperation and group spirit than
    on individualism.
  • Consequently, they discourage the use of language
    that is confrontational.
  • A recent immigrant from Japan may feel hurt by
    language you intended simply as direct and blunt.

Culture Differences
  • Similar culture variation occurs in feelings
    about personal space.
  • In the U.S., social distance ranges from about 4
    feet to about 12 feet.
  • If someone comes closer than that, he or she is
    entering our personal space, an area reserved for
    friends, loved ones, etc.
  • In most Asian cultures, however, people tend to
    give each other a greater amount of space.
  • In many Middle Eastern or Latin cultures, the
    reverse is true.

Culture Differences
  • Thus, if someone from a close up culture moves
    closer to argue a point with someone from a
    relatively stand offish culture, the behavior
    may be interpreted as aggressive.
  • The main point is this
  • Whatever your gender or cultural background, you
    should PAUSE before interpreting someones
    behavior as aggressive.
  • Take a breath, think it over, and squelch those
    defensive reactions unless truly needed!

Aggression in the Eye of the Beholder
  • Do Act. 4.3 on P. 39
  • Word process your answer. Give me a brief summary
    of the situation before answering the questions.
  • First type the question, then type your response.
  • Place in the Period 3 basket when finished along
    with Act. 4.1, 4.2 your test results.

Workshop Wrap-up
  • Aggressive behavior promotes ones own opinions,
    feelings, or rights at the expense of other
  • Assertive people use techniques such as making
    direct eye contact, speaking in a strong (but not
    loud) voice, and stating their feelings honestly.
  • Often we misinterpret the extent of another
    persons aggressiveness
  • Especially when gender or cultural differences
    are involved.

Workshop 5
  • Handling Anger

Handling Anger
  • Read the scenario on P. 40 in your packet.
  • Yolandas first insight was correctshe could
    have found a better method of handling her
    problem with Toshi.
  • By blowing up at him in front of everyone, she
    probably created a lot of ill feeling, and she
    didnt help resolve the underlying difficulties.
  • To understand the implications of Yolandas
    problem, lets begin by looking at how and why
    anger arises.

The Origin of Anger
  • We all get angry at times, both at home and at
  • Anger, however, isnt our first response, no
    matter how much we are provoked.
  • In fact, it is what psychologists call a
    secondary emotion.
  • This means it stems from some other emotion.
  • For example, if someone insults you, youll first
    feel the psychological pain. Your self-esteem may
    be wounded.
  • If the putdown occurred in public, you may feel
  • You may also be afraid others believe what was
  • These primary emotions then lead you to anger.

Feels That Arouse Anger
  • Numerous feelings can arouse anger. Here are just
    a few
  • Embarrassment
  • Shame
  • Humiliation
  • Guilt
  • Disappointment
  • Frustration
  • Fear
  • Jealousy
  • Grief, etc.

Anger In a Nutshell
  • To put it simply, anger is a response that helps
    you cope with being vulnerable.
  • Like aggressiveness, it is usually defensive in
    origin, even though it can put you on the
    offensive against others.

Consequences of Anger
  • Anger can have many negative results.
  • There are severe consequencespeople turning
    violent with fists, knives, and guns.
  • For most of us, however, anger takes the form of
    words, looks, gestures, or maybe even a shove.
  • These responses dont hurt anyone in a physical
    sense, but they can nevertheless have bad
  • Think of a time when your anger at a friend or
    loved one has disrupted your relationship for
    days, weeks, or longer.

Anger in the Workplace
  • In a work environment, uncontrolled anger is
    likely to produce consequences like
  • The angry person says unwise things or makes
    exaggerated accusations.
  • Other people get angry as well.
  • Additional grievances are aired, complicating the
  • Relationships are strained or broken.
  • Morale and team spirit are undermined.
  • The underlying conflictthe source of the
    problembecomes even harder to resolve.

Internal Consequences for the Angry Person
  • Anger is bad for your health! It has been known
    to cause the following problems
  • Increased stress
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Upset stomach
  • Ulcers
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Insomnia

Did You Know?
  • The Harvard School of Public Health did a study
    that showed a link between anger and heart
  • Following 1300 men with an average age of 62 for
    7 years, the men with the highest levels of anger
    (determined by a personality test) were three
    times more likely to develop heart disease than
    men with lower levels.
  • Act. 5.1 P. 43 Word process your responses and
    save your file.

Whats the Use of Anger?
  • It is important to realize that anger also has
    its uses. As a defensive response, it can help us
    adapt to a situation in a number of ways
  • Anger charges us with energy and helps us act
  • It focuses our attention.
  • It can lead us to bring negative feelings into
    the open.
  • If we express anger, it signals others that we
    mean business.

The Responsibility for Anger
  • Perhaps the biggest step you can take in handling
    your anger is to realize who is responsible for
  • After hearing about the nature and origin of
    anger, can you guess where the responsibility
  • The answer is simple You are responsible for
    your own anger.

The Responsibility for Anger
  • You may really feel that when you get angry you
    have a good reason for it.
  • Anger is often justified in the sense that we
    have a legitimate reason for it.
  • That doesnt change the fact that the angry
    person is the one responsible for the emotion.

YOU Are Responsible
  • Think of it this way Often you may say something
    like Bernice made me really angry today.
  • Yet it wasnt Bernice who actually made your
    anger. YOU made it yourself, most likely to
    defend yourself from something Bernice said or
  • Remember if youre angry, the anger exists
    inside you. Its yours, nobody elses. Therefore,
    you are the only one who can manage it.
  • Act. 5.2 P. 45 Word process your responses and
    add it to the bottom of Act. 5.1.

To Let It Out or Keep It In
  • It may seem to you that you have two basic
    alternatives let it out or keep it in.
  • You can either express your anger or suppress it.
  • Unfortunately, both of these options can have
    negative consequences if carried to an extreme.
  • Bursts of anger strain relationships. It can help
    you temporarily blow off steam, but the anger
    itself can remain and even deepen because of the
    hostile words youve used.

To Let It Out or Keep It In
  • On the other hand, if you stifle your anger, it
    can make you increasingly frustrated and
  • It can even ruin your sleep or digestion
  • Suppressed anger may burst out at the worst
    possible time, and maybe directed at the wrong
  • If you have a strong tendency toward one extreme
    or the other, you need to modify that habit in
    order to handle anger effectively.
  • Assess how you express anger. Do Act. 5.3 on P.
    46. Word process your responses at the bottom of
    Act. 5.1 5.2.

Managing Anger
  • Luckily letting it out and keeping it in are
    not the only alternatives for dealing with anger.
  • There is a more sophisticated way you can manage
    your anger.
  • That is, you can express it in a controlled,
    measured waya way that maximizes your chances of
    improving the situation, not worsening it.

Seven Steps for Managing Anger
  • Step 1 Accept the fact that youre angry.
    Acknowledge YOUR responsibility for dealing with
    the emotion.
  • Step 2 Decide exactly what youre mad at.
    Analyze the source of your feelings, and separate
    the real from the minor, insignificant matters.
  • Ex. Your boss walks in and says Hi to your
    co-worker, but not you. Why are you mad? Because
    the boss is rude? Because you think your
    co-worker is undermining you?

Seven Steps for Managing Anger
  • Step 3 Be sure you understand the facts of the
    situation. If you heard from Roger Smith that
    Troy Bednarek made a sarcastic remark about you,
    make sure Troy actually said such a thing.
  • Then try to figure out the context in which it
    was saidwas it just an innocent remark?
  • Step 4 Decide whom you can speak to about the
    problem. Usually its the person youre mad at.
  • Sometimes, however, it should be a supervisor or
    a neutral third party whom you trust to give good

Seven Steps for Managing Anger
  • Step 5 When you speak up, do it in an assertive,
    not aggressive, manner.
  • Describe the problem objectively.
  • Also describe your feelings, your needs, and your
    desires (using I messages).
  • Focus on the goal you want to achieve.
  • Step 6 Propose a solution that would be
    acceptable to you and also potentially acceptable
    to the other person.
  • Ashley, I dont expect an apology, but now that
    you understand my feelings, I hope youll refrain
    from doing that in the future.

Seven Steps for Managing Anger
  • Step 7 Afterward, reflect on the entire
    experience and learn from it.
  • Think about whether you managed your anger in the
    best possible way.
  • Decide whether you should modify your approach in
    the future.
  • Do Act. 5.4 P. 49. Word process your responses
    and turn in with 5.1-5.3 when finished.
  • Next, find a Web site that specializes in anger
    management. Read the information, and write a
    one page-double spaced summary (and I mean a FULL
    page) of the information given at that site.

Workshop Wrap-up
  • Anger usually arises as a defensive response when
    we feel vulnerable.
  • Without proper management, anger can have severe
    consequences for relationships, morale, and
    personal health.
  • The responsibility for anger lies with the person
    who feels the anger, not with anyone else.

Workshop Wrap-up
  • The extremes of letting anger out and keeping it
    in can both be harmful. A better way is to try
    consciously to manage your anger.
  • Practical steps for managing anger include
  • Accepting responsibility
  • Clarifying the emotional and factual details
  • Speaking about the matter assertively
  • Reflecting on the experience afterward.

Workshop 6
  • Preventing Conflict

Preventing Conflict
  • Read the scenario on P. 51 of your packet.
  • Can you see why Sergeis advice was valuable?
  • Michael was heading toward a potential conflict
    that may have been totally unnecessary.
  • For example, he jumped to conclusions that
    Orlando was cursing him.
  • Also, when he said that Orlandos sort of
    person had a temper, he may have been relying on
    a stereotype about ethnic groups.

Problems of Perception and Interpretation
  • Our perceptions are marvelous sources of
  • We learn a lot about people by seeing what they
    look like, watching them act, hearing what others
    say about them, etc.
  • Unfortunately, they are often wrong.
  • Sometimes our eyes and ears simply mislead us.
  • You hear My boss is a stupid dunce. What was
    said My boss is stupendous!
  • Our errors are caused by the way our perceptions
    slide immediately into interpretation. Were
    always trying to make sense of what we see.
  • Take a look at the following perception exercise.

Ways Perception/Interpretation Become Distorted
  • First Impressions
  • After we form an opinion of someone, were very
    reluctant to change it.
  • We actually tend to ignore or downplay later
    information that contradicts our first
  • Implicit Personality Theories
  • These are unspoken assumptions about which
    personality traits and behaviors naturally belong
  • We might assume someone who is kind to animals is
    also warm and kind to humans.
  • Sometimes the link is accurate other times its

Ways Perception/Interpretation Become Distorted
  • Fundamental Attribution Error
  • When we interpret someones behavior in a
    situation, we tend to attribute too much of the
    behavior to personal characteristics and too
    little to the situation.
  • For example, when you see someone banging their
    fist on his desk after a call from a client, you
    may think this means he has a bad temper.
  • In reality, you might have responded the same
    way. Maybe the client was really abusive.

Examples of Fundamental Attribution Error P. 54
  • Event Child screams in a restaurant
  • Common response What a bratty kid!
  • Thoughtful response Maybe that child has a
    stomach ache.
  • Event An old friend passes by without
    acknowledging you.
  • Common response Hes getting stuck up.
  • Thoughtful response He could be worried about
    that big project he has to finish by tomorrow.

Order IS Important
  • In a classic experiment conducted in the 1940s
    one group was told that a certain person was
  • intelligent, industrious, impulsive, critical,
    stubborn, and envious.
  • Another group heard the same description, in
  • envious, stubborn, critical, impulsive,
    industrious, and intelligent.
  • The result the first group had a much more
    favorable opinion of the person than the second

Preventing Errors of Perception and Interpretation
  • You probably cant prevent them entirely.
  • However, once you accept that youlike all
    peopleare prone to them, you can minimize their
  • The following techniques can help
  • Check your perceptions. Did you actually hear
    what you thought you heard?
  • Instead of assuming you know why someone behaved
    the way he or she did, think about other possible
  • Seek additional information. Talk to the person
    or someone else who was there.
  • Separate your feelings from the matter youre
    investigating. Try to stay objective.

Minimizing Distorted Interpretations
  • Do Act. 6.1 on P. 55 in your packet
  • Word process your responses and save this file.
    We will be adding 6.2 and 6.3 to this document.

Stereotypes A Necessary Evil?
  • Stereotypes are our beliefs that certain groups
    of people tend to have distinct characteristics.
  • Some would say, stereotypes must be avoided at
    all costs. Taken to an extreme, this is not
    necessarily true.
  • We all try to predict how people are likely to
    respond to various situations based on the
    stereotypes weve formedsometimes right and
    sometimes wrong.
  • If you encountered a middle-aged VP in the
    cafeteria, you probably would assume he didnt
    want to hear about an upcoming rock concert.
  • Maybe its true, maybe its not. It is really
    harmless that we dont discuss it based on our
  • Restaurant example

Stereotypes That Cause Problems
  • When is it, then, that stereotypes cause
  • Stereotypes are most likely to become a hindrance
    when they are
  • Negative
  • Inflexible
  • Offensive to others

A Negative Stereotype
  • Mrs. Rabinowicz in Purchasing is in her sixties,
    and she speaks very slowly.
  • You assume her mental faculties must have
    declined, and as a result, you fail to heed her
    excellent advice.

An Inflexible Stereotype
  • Bonnie is a physical therapist whos scarcely
    five feet tall and must weight less than 100
    pounds, soaking wet!
  • Youre certain shes not strong enough for the
    most strenuous aspects of the job, even though
    youve seen her supporting a professional
    football player who was recovering from knee

An Offensive Stereotype
  • Whenever you see Hakeem in the hallway, you stop
    to chat for a minute about the latest basketball
  • You assume that because hes tall and African
    American, hes interested in basketball.
  • One day, though, he gets annoyed at you.
  • Just because Im black, you think all I care
    about is basketball? Why dont you ever ask me
    about opera?

What To Do About Harmful Stereotypes
  • What can you do iflike most everyoneyou harbor
    some negative, inflexible, or potentially
    offensive stereotypes?
  • Because you cant avoid putting people into
    categories, try to use more categories than
  • Be conscious of the assumptions youre making
    about other peopleand sensitive to their
  • Always strive to keep yourself open to new
    information about other people.
  • Do Act. 6.2 P. 59 Word process, add to Act. 6.1,
    and save.

Behavior Patterns
  • Oftentimes when you find yourself engaging in the
    same kind of conflicts over and over again, the
    best option is to take another route.
  • That is, change some of the simple behavior
    patterns that are leading to this conflict.

Possible Changes You Can Make
  • Avoiding unpleasant topics-often you know which
    subjects are likely to get someone wound up.
  • Easy solution avoid them!
  • Ignoring minor problems-Some disagreements just
    arent worth bothering about. Focus on larger
    goals and forget about the trivialities.
  • If you know someone who always tells you about
    how attractive she is, let her think it! So what?

Possible Changes You Can Make
  • Dismissing put-downs-if someone makes a comment
    that you feel puts you down, refuse to let it
    bother you.
  • If theres a grain of truth to it, learn from it!
  • If its wrong, stupid, or thoughtless, you can
    just ignore it.
  • Often the best response is none at all.
  • But, if you have to respond, choose a comeback
    that shows you arent concerned
  • No kidding! Thanks for pointing that out!

One Final Possible Change
  • Consciously try to raise your tolerance for
  • This can be easier said than done, but if you
    have thin skin, you can make it somewhat thicker
    by reminding yourself
  • Youre a conscientious, competent person, no
    matter what others may say.
  • Some conflicts just arent worth the time or
    effortyou have better things to do.
  • Do Act. 6.3 P. 61 Word process this and add it to
    6.1 6.2. Then turn it in.

Workshop Wrap-up
  • You can reduce the potential for conflict by
    working to minimize common distortions of
    perception and interpretation.
  • Such as over-reliance on first impressions.
  • Stereotypes foster conflict when they are
    negative, inflexible, or offensive to others.
  • You can often prevent conflict with simple
    changes in behavior, such as avoiding unpleasant
    topics and ignoring put-downs.

Workshop 7
  • Managing Conflict

Managing Conflict
  • Read the opening scenario on P. 63 in your
  • Like Sharif, Luis, and Lianne, all of us
    sometimes face conflicts with co-workers or even
    with friends.
  • No matter how much we apply the principles of
    earlier workshops, conflicts do arise and we have
    to cope with them.
  • By learning about the different strategies
    available, you can begin to make yourself a true
    manager of conflict.
  • The five basic strategies psychologists identify
    are avoidance, accommodation, compromise,
    competition, and collaboration.

1) Avoidance
  • Sometimes called withdrawal, this strategy
    involves stepping away from the conflict and
    ignoring it as much as possible.
  • This strategy can be useful when
  • The problem is trivial
  • You dont care about the outcome
  • Its not the same as sticking your head in the
    sand and pretending the problem doesnt exist.
  • It simply means that you are considering others
    things more important than getting involved.

2) Accommodation
  • In this style, you give up the strong pursuit of
    your OWN goals.
  • You show you are willing to put your goals aside,
    at least temporarily, to accommodate the other
  • Use this strategically, not because youre weak
    or afraid of fuss.
  • Maybe you realize that the other persons goal is
    really more important than yours.
  • You may feel that being agreeable now will help
    you achieve a more important goal later on.

3) Compromise
  • This means splitting the difference or meeting
    in the middle.
  • Each party sacrifices some part of his/her goal
    in order to resolve the conflict.
  • Neither is completely satisfied or terribly
  • Like the previous two, compromise works best when
    the goal you have been pursuing is not greatly
    important to you or there isnt time to work out
    a more complex solution.

4) Competition
  • Unlike the previous three, competition does not
    involve any willingness to give up your goal.
  • This is sometimes called forcing because you try
    to force others to go along with you.
  • Competition is the essential win-lose strategy.
    You win, the other loses.
  • Following this too much will likely result in
    loss of friends.
  • There are times, however, when this is the
    strategy of choice.
  • Ex. When its vital to act quickly and youre
    convinced your way is right.

5) Collaboration
  • Here, both parties work to find a mutually
    acceptable solution.
  • Think back to constructive vs. destructive
  • Collaboration is the strategy most likely to make
    a conflict constructive because its a win-win
    approach. Both parties achieve their goals.
  • This approach is sometimes called problem solving
    because its key that the parties see the
    conflict as mutual so they must work together.

5) Collaboration-contd
  • If collaboration is so great, you may be
    wondering, why dont we use it in every
  • For one thing, it requires commitment on the part
    of BOTH parties to achieve a solution.
  • Collaboration often takes a good deal of time and
  • So its most appropriate when both the goals of
    the two parties and their personal relationship
    are of high importance.

A Gender Difference?
  • Research suggests that men are more apt to use a
    competitive conflict strategy than women.
  • The four other strategiesavoidance,
    accommodation, compromise, and collaborationare
    more likely to appeal to women.
  • This finding fits with other research showing
    that, in conversation, men are likely to be more
    aggressive, assertive, and competitive than
  • Do you think these difference are in our genes,
    or are they a product of the way our society
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