Workplace Conflict and the Shadows of the Past
“Is the conflict ONLY here?” she mused as she sipped her tea. “Are we just one big dysfunctional family? And furthermore, why can’t we seem to get our act together? The stress here is killing me.”
This theme is played out in company after company; in country after country.
Conflict is BIG everywhere, and continues to escalate as the economy and misuse of ecology seem to collide with the dream of a safe and happy life.
The vast majority of 21st Century workplaces are rife with negativity and tension, and the costs are huge. A whopping 93% of workers report an inability to get conflict resolved effectively when confronting issues with co-workers on issues of accountability. Senior executives are frustrated with the amount of time (some report as much as 50%) resolving “staff personality conflicts”; double the time spent a decade ago.
Conflict is nothing new at work, it has been there long before information technology, Gen Y, the Millennial’ s , and the coarsening of society. We can’t blame it on the media, or the politicians. Go back and check out Shakespeare’s “Richard lll”, Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol”, and Melville’s “Moby Dick”.
Could it be that a deeper human dimension is at play?
As social psychology teaches us, conflict situations can be understood only when viewed through the filter of a vast array of personable variables, including family values, gender, culture, past crises, and daily experiences.
Responses to conditions in the workplace are determined by ideas and feelings that include both present experience and experiences from our histories. Karl Marx, in “The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte” states eerily “The past lies like a nightmare upon the present”.
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Here is where workplace conflict and its resolution becomes an interesting challenge. Conflict runs rampant in the workplace because of our natural and universal tendency to bring our families to work with us. This basic fast is overlooked day after day and we keep playing the same upsets like a broken old record.