Workplace Conflict: Jake and the Jerk
Stress, workplace conflict and ingrained behavior patterns are a package deal. These are the big three that can get even the hardiest soul to send up the white flag of defeat.
Think about your own business environment and what happens when workplace conflict erupts. Someone says something. It could be an offhand joke, no big deal. Yet, Jake over there is offended. He goes to Suzie and says “Can you believe that jerk said what he did”? Suzie may just be clearing her throat, yet Jake takes that guttural sound as confirmation the he is right to be mad.
By the end of the day there are armed camps for Jake and against the jerk. Production slows as the pros and cons of the “insult” are dissected. Two days later the boss has to call a meeting of his direct reports to find out what is going on, why time is being wasted. Everyone now has a point of view and no one really knows exactly what was said to Jake to push him into overwhelm. The “Gotcha Game” is in full force.
Meanwhile, Jake is basking in the glory of all the attention surrounding him. He tells the story over and over and each time there are more details, more anger, and more baloney thrown into the mix.
Here is what you need to know to get into the safe stress zone, away from the gotcha gals and guys: Stress and workplace conflict are contagious. Yet, there is a way to stay healthy and not get the bug.
Let me introduce you to the Mirror Neuron System . If someone is angry, like Jake, your mirror neurons will be sparked into action; yours and everyone else in the workplace. That is how the upset and hostility escalates. You feel it in your body. Just like you would sneeze if a virus showered the office, anger has the same impact.Continued on the next page