Are peaceful workplaces possible?

April 20, 2009

These are tough times in lots of different contexts. It seems like the reactions to tough times also vary, and some reactions are people acting out their fears and anxieties.

Behavior seems to be following the worsening economic indicators, which is viewed by some as a justifiable response to stress. This behavior can be everything from being faster to lose one’s temper to outright violence. Once this starts in the workplace or at home, it damages relationships and creates toxic conditions, unless it is dealt with immediately and well.

Workplaces have “zero tolerance” and other policies that attempt to enforce good behavior. Is there more that can be done to relieve the stress that some say contributes to the acting out? In other words, what will create peaceful environments where people have more internal strategies than just acting out their frustrations and anger at external matters that seem beyond their control?

Ideally, everyone will feel fairly treated and respected. That would be a good foundation for peaceful relationships. Since we all have different definitions of what this might mean or look like or how it might be achieved, we also need skills for dealing with our feelings when we believe we are unfairly treated and disrespected.

A useful skill is checking meaning when someone communicates. It is easy to react to what we thought someone meant in a message, without checking on whether our assumption about his or her intended meaning is correct.

Taking responsibility for our reactions is another good behavior. When something happens, it may not be “done to us” and we need not always react as if it were being personally aimed in our direction.

Uncertainty makes us feel insecure and shaky, which can cause us to behave differently than if we had more information to guide us. Dealing well with uncertainty is a skill that can be developed. Learning to generate options and create “what if”scenarios so that we feel better prepared for more eventualities will help us create our own sense of security instead of just reacting to what we think others should be giving us.

Fostering a sense of resiliency and belief in our capacity to be okay is another useful skill for feeling peaceful in our relationships. Resilient people take adversity and uncertainty in better humor because they work with the situation as it arises, rather than catastrophizing about what awful things will come out of the situation.

Yes, many situations are very difficult right now. how we deal with those adverse conditions is the measure of who we want to be and how we value the relationships we are able to enjoy.

Filed Under: Conflict Competence      

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