Human resource managers are familiar with a rather startling statistic: people get fired from their job 65% of the time, not because they are incompetent, but because of their inability to get along with their fellow workers and with management. Not only do interpersonal conflicts cause people to lose their jobs; they are a major source of stress in organizations. Furthermore, all of this stress leads to illness and absenteeism, increasing health care costs.
|The telephone as a medieval torture device, along with endless office meetings.
You might think that these conflicts are due to the competitive nature of the workplace environment. After all, there is money and power at stake. Such factors do, no doubt, enter into the equation, but they are not necessarily the major reasons for workplace conflicts. Apropos is the famous remark by Dr. Henry Kissinger, when he was asked why there is so much backstabbing and vicious infighting in the academic departments of colleges and universities. Dr. Kissinger replied that it is because there is so little at stake! In other words, if there are not important issues to fight over, people will fight, all the more viciously, over relatively trivial matters.
If Dr. Kissinger is correct, we can infer that workplace conflicts, in most organizations, are not simply due to fighting over limited resources but are due to certain emotional dynamics, the same as exists in families. For example, if there is a problem in an organization, someone needs to be the scapegoat. Who will it be? Another problem is that of envy. A certain division of a company just received a much-needed new copier, and the other divisions then accuse management of favoritism. Practically speaking, then, there is very little at stake, but psychologically there may be a great deal at stake.
It is almost inevitable that there will be workplace interpersonal conflicts and stressful situations. The question is how best to minimize their impact on us. As in everything, self-knowledge, coupled with an understanding of other people’s motives, is vital. Without such knowledge, it it very easy for our unconscious inner conflicts to transform our workplace into the repeat of a family drama. (Apropos is a book, by Dr. Debra Mandel, with the perfect title: “Your Boss is Not Your Mother.”) After all, it is difficult enough to accomplish our workplace goals, without unconsciously bringing all of our past emotional baggage to bear on each situation.
Dr. Dillof — who has studied organizational psychology, and worked as a management consultant — can help you to better understand yourself and your associates. You’ll gain a more incisive grasp of the challenges that you currently face, as well as the opportunities. He will also help you to view your present job in the larger context of your career and of your life. Knowing who you are, coupled with insight into your present workplace situation, can make your life a lot less stressful. You might even begin to love your job and look forward to Monday mornings!
P.S. You might enjoy reading the essay that Dr. Dillof wrote about his experience as a management consultant, “Confessions of a Consultant.”
“Successful careers are not planned. They develop when people are prepared for opportunities because they know their strengths, their method of work, and their values.” — Peter Drucker
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