Workplace woes

July 26, 1993|By Julie Gravelle

Here are the types of conflict present in the workplace, according to Patricia Miller, a training consultant who specializes in conflict resolution:

* Noncompliance: A worker doesn't do his or her share of work. Examples could be failing to finish a project on time, failing to return supplies or making too many personal phone calls.

However frustrating, it's the easiest conflict to resolve because it's fairly straightforward. That's not to say it doesn't frustrate a lot of people if it's not addressed. And it might not be addressed because supervisors or co-workers lack the skills or assertiveness to ask for what they need.

* Poor interpersonal skills: Workers use sarcasm or belittle an idea. Bosses are dictators and refuse to acknowledge another viewpoint. This type of conflict is harder to address because it has to do with someone's personal skills. It's also easier to deny.

* Atmosphere of discontent: This is the most difficult type of conflict to resolve.

An atmosphere of discontent can be caused by workers who can't deal with personality clashes that are inevitable in the workplace. They may not like the way a co-worker does his or her work and they want to find fault because they don't have the skills to go directly to the person. In this situation, workers and managers need to look at ways to harmonize the way people work.

Another form of discontent is caused by poor decision-making by supervisors. Policies and procedures that represent faulty thinking are thrust on employees. The employees may know why the policies may not work, but they feel powerless to change them. And when they feel powerless, they feel defeated.

Or they might be in constant conflict with the politics of the organization. This is a situation in which one must pick one's battles. Don't give up more than you need to. Find small ways to make changes if you can't change the whole system.

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