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Dealing with Emotions in the Workplace William Ashton, Ph.D.

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Presentation on theme: "Dealing with Emotions in the Workplace William Ashton, Ph.D."— Presentation transcript:

1 Dealing with Emotions in the Workplace William Ashton, Ph.D.

2 Disclaimer The content of this workshop is based upon sound psychological research. However, I cannot guarantee that the procedures presented will work in every situation. The political and organizational context you will be working in will have a profound effect upon the usefulness of the following material.

3 Some Definitions n Conflict – a Mixed-Motive Situation – I want one thing and you want it too n Emotion – a psychological state caused by both physiological and cognitive processes – Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis n “Party” & “Other”

4 Goals of this Workshop n Understand the importance of dealing with emotional behavior so that attention can be refocused on positive & productive effort. n Identify ways to handle your own reaction to another’s emotional behavior n Learn when to allow someone to ventilate or to cool-down n Learn basic conflict resolution skills

5 Don’t Sweep It Under a Rug! Change is opportunity and danger n Avoidance is Bad – Poor organizational functioning – Increased job stress n Conflict is Good – New information – New procedures – Staff Changes

6 Son of Don’t Sweep It Under a Rug! n Anger is good – Anger is a natural human emotion – Anger is a symptom which can alert you to an important underlying cause – Use anger as a signal: Look for its cause

7 Why Avoid? n Lack of Conflict Resolution Skills n Corporate Culture – Does your culture encourage open discussion or frown upon open conflict? n Personal Style n Personal History

8 Personal Style n Conflict Styles n Ignore conflict/feelings n Soothe feelings n Explore conflict and possibilities n Appeal to Authority n Ignore feelings focus upon facts n Hypersensitive/over-responsive to conflict n Assert self as final arbitrator

9 Personal History n What is your personal history with conflict? – How did your parents handle conflict (with each other and with you)? – How did you handle conflict as a child? – How do you handle conflict with your significant others (spouse/children)? – How do you handle conflict at work? n What is your orientation towards conflict?

10 Dealing Effectively with your Response to Another's Emotions n Reflect upon your Conflict Style n Control Stress Reaction – Fight or Flight Response – Secret Breath – Personal Space n Escape Pod – “I’m surprised that you feel this way and I’m a little taken aback right now, can we talk about this at 3:30 today?”

11 To Ventilate or Not to Ventilate … that is the question n Good Times to Ventilate – When the target is not present – Whey you are not the target – When you do not know what is going on or the party’s viewpoint – When the party is upset and you feel that talking it out will help

12 To Ventilate or Not to Ventilate n When Not to Ventilate – When there is not enough time – When you are upset – When the party and target are upset and uninterested in talking n Yelling Match n Name Calling

13 Ventilation n Allows for parties to voice their concerns and feelings n Provides both parties with information regarding the other’s viewpoint n It provides an emotional release which paradoxically calms down the system n It creates an atmosphere for problem solving

14 Ventilation Skills n Acknowledge & support the emotional behavior n Set up ground rules – “I’ll give party 5 minutes to tell me their story and then other 5 minutes to tell me their story. Please don’t interrupt. Everybody will have their chance.” n Use Listening Skills

15 Cooling Down Period n Speak softly and calmly (quietly) n Acknowledge & support the emotional behavior – “You seem upset. I can see that this issue is very important to you.” – “You are quiet and are not responding to my questions. I can tell that this is upsetting you.”

16 More on the Cooling Down Period n Describe the effect of the emotional behavior – “When you refuse to respond to my questions, it’s difficult for me to help you.” – “You are speaking so loudly that I am beginning to feel attacked. I’m not able to help you when I feel this way.” – “Slamming things on you desk is disrupting the office.”

17 Even More on the Cooling Down Period n Your Back Up Phrase – “This behavior is inappropriate behavior for the office.” n Negotiate a cooling down period – Give parties something to do - write out story – Set definite time & agenda n “At 4:30 we will get together to talk about this problem and I’ll listen to both of your concerns.”

18 Son of the Cooling Down Period n Offer reassurance and support – “You are both very upset right not and you both have a good reason to be. However, now is not the right time to try to solve this problem. We’ll discuss this at 3:30.” n If you are the target, arrange to have a third- party at the meeting

19 Conflict Resolution n The Setting – Privacy & free from interruptions – Right length of time n Ground Rules – focus upon the problem, not the person – no attacks (name calling, yelling) – don’t bring up the past – take responsibility for you actions

20 Conflict Resolution: Information Gathering 1. Party tells their side of the story and how they feel using “I” messages 2. Other retells party’s side of the story. Then they may question for better understanding. 3. Other tells their side of the story and how they feel using “I” messages. 4. Party retells other’s side of the story. Then they may question for better understanding.

21 Information Gathering: An Example n Party: “Accounting is full of a-holes. Our hands are tied -- every time we ask them for a P.O. it takes them five days to get it to us.” n Mediator: “Remember our ground rules, no name calling. Can you restate what you said as an “I” statement?” n Party: “Okay. When accounting takes five days to get us a P.O. I feel angry because the departments are yelling at us for their supplies. I want accounting to be faster with the P.O.s”

22 n Mediator: “Okay, I can see how upsetting that situation can be and you have the right to be angry. Other, could you restate party’s story?” n Other: “It’s not our fault, they always forget the supplier’s code and FEIN # and we have to look it up.” n Mediator: “Remember our ground rules. You first have to restate party's story. Then we’ll hear yours.” n Other: “Okay. Party said that when we take five days to do a P.O. they get upset because the department are mad at them for supplies. He wants us to be faster. Okay?” n Mediator: “Yes, thank you. Now, can you describe your side with an “I” statement?”

23 n Other: “When party submits a P.O. without a supplier s code or FEIN #, we have to look it up. We get upset at that because it slows us down. I want everyone here to remember to put down their supplier code and FIEN #s.” n Mediator: “Thank you for working with the process. Now, party can you retell other s story?” n Party: “Other said that when we submit a P.O. without a supplier s code or FEIN # they have to look it up. They get upset because it slows them down. They wish that we would remember to put down the code and FEIN #.”

24 Conflict Resolution: Options 5. Both parties come to an agreement to the nature of the problem. 6. Both parties brainstorm possible solutions to the problem. 7. Both parties agree to a solution. 8. If no agreement, find a best alternative given no agreement.

25 Options: An Example n Mediator: “Okay, what’s the problem here?” n Party: “You mean that those blanks on the P.O.s are important?” n Other: “Yep. We can’t submit the P.O.s to accounting without it -- they get sent back.” n Party: “I didn’t know that. Most of the time we have the information. We’re just too busy to put it down.” n Other: “Somebody has to. We either have to call you, accounting or the vendor to get the info.” n Party: “From now on we’ll enter the information when we have it.”

26 Neat Negotiation Tricks n Separate Demands from Interests n Nonspecific Compensation – party compensates other in some other way n Expanding the Pie – increasing the available resources n Logrolling – trade off important issues for unimportant issues

27 Workplace Violence n What is workplace violence? – Harassment – Intimidation – Threats – Domestic partners brining domestic disputes into the workplace.

28 Warning Signs of Workplace Violence n Slot-movement – neat appearance messy appearance – punctual always late – gregarious withdrawn n General Warning Signs – Reduced productivity – inconsistent work quality – strained co-worker relations – safety violations – depression – frequently blaming others

29 What to Do? n Some researchers feel that there is no typical profile of an employee prone to workplace violence – any worker is likely to become violent n However, research shows that warning signs are present in two-thirds of episodes

30 Your Company’s (re)Action n Be proactive!!! (be proactive!!!) n Develop a Human Resource policy regarding employees who are showing warning signs n Develop your policy with a human resource professional and an attorney n Have counselor on call – Referral to counselor must not be seen as a punishment

31 (another)Word to the Wise n The U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the federal government’s human resources agency, instructs employers to have advance planning for workplace violence issues, stating, The likelihood of a successful resolution is much greater if you have prepared ahead of time.

32 Thank You! n Happy Conflict Resolution!

33 Rights of Use for This Material n Some trainers are very protective of their materials – they’re afraid that they’re giving away their business. I feel that freely distributing information like this is just good advertising for a trainer or consultant. So please use my material as you see fit; with the provision that you, in print, reference me. Please use the following information – in full: n William Ashton, Ph.D. n The City University of New York, York College n Department of Political Science and Psychology n www.york.cuny.edu/~washton www.york.cuny.edu/~washton


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