Workplace tension boiling up? Better put a lid on it

Workplace Scenario

Linda, an administrative assistant, has been working on some documentation for her colleague Ted, who stops by her desk to see if the work has been completed. He urgently needs the documents for a meeting with a new client; documents which he gave to Linda earlier that morning. Linda explains that she’s still waiting for the required signature from the manager who has now gone to a lunch meeting.

Frustrated, Ted complains that if Linda had been more efficient, she could have caught the manager before she left. Linda replies that the manager has been in back-to-back meetings all morning, so catching her earlier was impossible. Ted only becomes more incensed. With his voice rising, he claims that she’s just making excuses for her incompetence. Linda tries to defend herself by pointing out she’s done all she can, but it doesn’t have any affect. Ted storms off muttering a flurry of insulting words and leaving Linda feeling humiliated and bullied.

Respect and civility is the least of what we should expect from others, and of ourselves. But so often in work settings, frustration and anger can erupt between people, sending respect and civility flying out the window.

Whether Linda could have been more efficient in her work is irrelevant. She did not deserve to be insulted. Unfortunately, the scenario between Linda and Ted is common in workplaces.

At some point every one of us has been frustrated by what we felt was poor service or lack of cooperation from our co-workers, and when emotions escalated to the point where insults were exchanged. Yet, how many times have you reflected on your own attitudes and behaviours in these situations? Have you ever turned around and apologized after being rude to a colleague or someone working in your real estate community?

People are more likely to minimize their own bad behavior by saying: “I was only joking!” or “She’s too sensitive.” or “He deserved it.”  But these are not valid excuses nor do they absolve you of responsibility.

As recognition of individual rights has broadened, society has become more aware of the issue of harassment and abuse at work, and the risks at stake when employees are abusive to coworkers — not to mention the liabilities that business owners face when they tolerate workplace harassment or commit the harassment themselves.

Guidelines to creating and sustaining a respectful, healthy workplace have been accepted universally for many years. Those guidelines apply to both in-personal and digital communications, as well as the work environment, whether a broker office, a property listing, your car, a public space, on your home computer or Board office.

Any kind of conduct or comments between colleagues, members, support staff, or clients which causes someone to feel humiliated, intimidated, bullied or threatened, is unacceptable. In addition to being unprofessional, it is also unlawful and can lead to legal action.

If you have difficulty controlling your emotions at work, or you find yourself the target of someone else’s abusive behaviours, there are books, workshops and presentations on the subject of workplace conflict everywhere.

For general help on conflict resolution for Realtors, the Board is offering a PDP credit course that provides participants with a complete understanding of how and why conflicts arise, how to prevent conflict from escalating, guidelines for creating open dialogue, and how to use a four-step problem-solving model.

Win/Win: Conflict Resolution Skills for Realtors is a 6 PDP credit course running Wednesday, June 21 from 9 am to 2:30 pm. The course provides a complete understanding of how and why conflicts arise and skills to proactively resolve conflict situations. The cost is $110 plus GST (save $10 by registering online.)

Visit the RESPECT website for more articles and videos or to send in kudos about an awesome Realtor.