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OBJECTIVES

 

At the completion of this module each student should be able to:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It can be said that almost every problem, every conflict, every mistake, or

every misunderstanding is based on a communication problem. We are

constantly communicating both in our personal lives and on-the-job.

 

Communication is defined as the interchange of thoughts, opinions, or

information by speech, through writing, or through signs. In general terms,

communication is 10% words, 40% tone and 50% body language.

 

 

TYPES OF COMMUNICATION

 

There are two general types of communication; verbal and nonverbal.

Verbal communication involves not just the specific words used but

also the vocal tone and the speed with which we talk. To go one step

further, verbal communication involves everything we, as a listener, hear

when talking to another person or persons. All aspects of the speaker's

vocal qualities contribute to the message that we receive.

 

Nonverbal communication, on the other hand, involves everything that the

listener or receiver sees during a conversation. Body language, facial

expressions, nervousness, physical grooming, personal mannerisms and

other idiosyncrasies are all components of nonverbal communication.

 

Verbal and nonverbal communication work together to give us the complete

communication picture. If they match and are consistent with each other,

they strengthen and underscore the meaning of the speaker's message. If

they are inconsistent, for example, the speaker verbally says that they are

'fine" yet their body language is one of nervousness. We disregard the words

and will believe the body language. Verbal and nonverbal communication occur

simultaneously.

 

 

VERBAL COMMUNICATION

 

Verbal communication is the exchange of information using words.

Reading and writing are also forms of verbal communication but, for

this topic, the emphasis will be placed on the spoken word.

 

The basis of verbal communication is language. Language is using words

in a way that allows people to share information effectively. Whatever

language is being used, whether it is language from another country or

specialized phrases used in your specific occupation, there must be a

common understanding of the definitions in order to convey a clear

message.

 

 

NONVERBAL COMMUNICATION

 

Nonverbal communication is the exchange of information without the

use of words. Nonverbal communication is often defined as "what we

don't say."

 

Nonverbal body language is spontaneous, and, in many instances, will

more accurately reflect the person's state of mind (whether it is the listener

or the speaker). Posture, gestures, and physical movement are all

unconscious indicators of how we feel about what is being said and how

we feel about the person saying it. Body language is our barometer about

what is really happening and what the true meaning of any communicated

message is. The basic types of nonverbal communication include:

 

      EYE CONTACT

Eye contact is a powerful communication tool. A glance, for example, is

often an attention getting method to open a conversation. Eye contact

also suggests respect and a willingness to listen. On the other hand, a

lack of eye contact often indicates that a person is avoiding communication.

It may indicate anxiety or a sense of defenselessness. The eyes also

carry many nonverbal messages such as fixing in a stare when angry,

narrowing in disgust, and opening wide in fear or surprise.

      FACIAL EXPRESSIONS

The face is the most expressive part of the body. A few examples of the

various messages facial expressions convey are anger, joy, suspicion,

sadness, fear and contempt.

      POSTURE

The manner in which a person holds their body carries nonverbal messages.

A person in good health and with a positive attitude usually holds their

body in good alignment. A depressed or weary person is more likely to

slouch. A person's posture can also provide nonverbal clues concerning

pain and physical limitations.

      GAIT

A bouncy, purposeful walk usually carries a message of well-being. A less

purposeful, shuffling gait can mean that the person is sad, discouraged,

fatigued or is just not clear as to their next action.

      GESTURES

Physical gestures can convey many different messages. For example, some

common gestures include thumbs up for victory, thumbs down meaning a

negative feeling or viewpoint, kicking an object or having clenched fists

often expresses anger, wringing of the hands or tapping the foot usually

means anxiety, tension, or nervousness, a wave of the hand serves to

beckon someone to come, or, if waved in another way, signifies that

someone is leaving. Gestures are also used extensively when two persons

speaking different languages attempt to communicate with each other.

      GENERAL PHYSICAL APPEARANCE AND GROOMING

The type of clothing worn and the person's grooming practices also carry

significant nonverbal messages. Generally, for example, healthy persons

with good self-esteem tend to pay attention to details of dress and grooming

while persons with low self-esteem show much less interest.

      SILENCE

Periods of silence during communication also carry important nonverbal

messages. The silence between two persons may indicate either a complete

understanding of each other, or, a lack of agreement with each other's

actions or viewpoints.

      TOUCH

The use of touch can be a valuable communication tool. Touching someone

in sympathy or compassion often says more than words can. Teachers

can motivate or empower students simply with a pat on the shoulder. Casual

touching can also draw the listener's attention to a point being made by the

speaker.

 

 

THE COMMUNICATION PROCESS

 

Generally speaking, the communication process has five basic elements;

two people (the sender and the receiver), two processes (sending

and receiving), and one message. The problem, of course, is finding the

best way to get the communication or message from one person to another.

 

The speaker says what they want to say to the receiver by selecting words

that will best convey their meaning and by using a variety of gestures,

facial expressions, or other personal mannerisms that will help transmit

that message. The message is composed of three elements, verbal, vocal

and visual. Words are used to make up the verbal element while intonation

and stress make up the vocal element. The visual element includes everything

the listener sees while the message is being conveyed.

 

The listener "receives" the message through a series of "filters." These

filters may include their past experiences, their perception of the speaker,

their emotional involvement with the message, their understanding of the

message's content, and their level of attention. In a sense, as the speaker

speaks the listener translates the message into their own words, creating

their own version of what they think the speaker has just said.

 

Unless both the sender and the receiver have identical past experiences,

effective communication may be difficult. Without clear and concise

communication skills misunderstandings can frequently occur.

Communication is influenced by the way people feel about a subject, a

task or a person. For example, in order for students to learn from a teacher

they need to feel that what is being taught is of value. In the same sense,

taking instruction from a supervisor who does not have the worker's respect

may also be difficult. Each of us must realize that our feelings and emotions

play a significant role in effective communication.

 

Truly, effective communication can not be a one-sided monologue. To

persuade, inform, or change the listener, both the sender and the receiver

must be actively involved. Communication is continuous and reciprocal.

Both persons mutually and continuously send and receive messages.

 

When people communicate they must also offer "feedback about the

message. To give feedback is to respond to the message or the speaker

in such a way that the speaker knows that the message has been heard

and understood. Communication is not complete until the message has

been understood. Feedback can include asking questions, nodding the

head in affirmation or in a negative manner, or a verbal reply.

 

 

COMMUNICATION BARRIERS

 

Communication barriers are generally found in three areas; the way a

message is sent, environmental interruptions, and how a message is

received. While communication can break down in other ways, people

who understand these problem areas have better control of the

communication process and have fewer misunderstandings as a result.

 

      SENDING MESSAGES

As speakers, the messages we send, whether verbal or written, seem

perfectly understandable. From our own point of view, our messages are

very clear and concise. To the listener, however, the words may be confusing

or unclear, our tone of voice may be misleading, or our body language may

not accurately convey the meaning or the importance of the message.

 

Messages should be formed based on the listener's level of understanding.

Think through the message and try to predict how it will be received.

 

The responsibility of determining whether effective communication has

occurred lies with the sender. To make certain that the message was

understood, the speaker should get some type of feedback from the listener.

As previously stated, this feedback could include a nod of the head, a

restating of the message by the listener or some other response.

      ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS

The environment may also have a tremendous impact on communications

especially in the construction trade. Many conditions exist, both in the

shop and on-the-job, that can make communicating complex ideas or

instructions almost impossible. Environmental factors such as: noise,

extreme temperatures, and distracting activities can all interfere with the

communication process. You can make your on-the-job communications

more accurate and effective by trying to find a location that is more quiet or

a less noisy time of the day to talk.

      RECEIVING A MESSAGE

It is believed by many that the biggest single communication problem is

the lack of ability to effectively listen. Most people seem to assume that

what they understood to be the message is what the speaker intended.

Frequently the two are not the same.

 

A word or a facial expression can change the meaning of a message.

Likewise, a previous experience by the listener can interpret a conversation

differently from what was intended. Another common problem arises when

the listener starts planning a response to what is being said instead of

actively listening. As a result, the listener does not hear the entire message.

 

As the sender, asking for feedback from the listener is the best way to

insure that the intended meaning of your idea or message was clear.

 

 

PERSONALITY TYPES

 

Misunderstandings are caused by the basic differences in people and

their communication styles. The earliest recorded effort to understand

these differences was developed when astrologers defined the twelve

astrological signs or types of people according to the four elements of

earth, air, fire and water. It is believed that people actually fall into types; in

other words, that their behavior is definable and reasonably predictable.

The value in understanding the basic personality types is that it can help

you predict behavior and better understand your fellow workers, supervisors,

family members, and friends.

 

Understanding these basic personality types can make a positive difference

on the job. Recognizing and understanding how people act can make

"running" a job easier, can make meeting deadlines more likely, and can

improve morale as well as productivity and profits.

 

As you read this topic, you may identify yourself or others with several

behaviors from each grouping. We can all find traces or even large doses

of each personality type in our make up and behavior. Today there are

more than a dozen different models of personality groupings. For our

example, we will call the four groupings Movers, Opposers, Followers, and

Bystanders.

 

      MOVERS

A mover is the one person in the work group who will usually initiate whatever

action is needed. The mover will also try to determine where you're heading

and will suggest and develop ideas for how to get there.

Movers are usually called "natural leaders." A mover's value on the job is

obvious. Having good ideas and the energy to back them up is a most

useful and constructive trait.

Movers, in general, enjoy power and enjoy being in charge, however, they

also have a strong need for approval and for others to agree with them.

They are also frequently un-accepting of other people's ideas. Mover's

generally see their own ideas as the only and best way of accomplishing a

task or settling an issue.

      OPPOSERS

The opposer generally pushes against whatever is being discussed or

considered. The opposer creates a challenge by blocking the direction or

intended destination of any idea. Opposers get their attention and sense

of importance by taking a contrary position.

In a group, opposers can serve a useful purpose. Foremen and other leaders

can use an opposer to test ideas or scrutinize plans. By redirecting the

opposer's negative viewpoint, their ideas may be used to stimulate further

thought or discussion which could result in improving the original suggestion.

      FOLLOWER

The follower is the person in the group who generally "goes along."

Followers will support someone or someone else's idea, however, they

most likely will not initiate ideas of their own. Followers are not uncreative

but may have a greater need to play it safe, to keep a lower profile, or to

wait until they see the general opinion of the group as a whole before they

take a stand. Followers are very good implementers once they commit

themselves to an idea. Followers have their own level of power in any

group. By being supportive, the follower empowers others to take whatever

action is necessary.

      BYSTANDER

The bystander is quite different from the follower. While the follower agrees

with ideas and viewpoints that they personally relate to, the bystander stays

out of direct action altogether. The bystander makes no alliances with any

of the other three personality types. Bystanders observe and keep opinions

to themselves. This may create a level of uneasiness on the job because

no one really knows what the bystander is thinking.

w hether you are a foreman or a co-worker, learning how to adapt your

skills to each of the four personality types will improve your ability to

communicate your ideas and feelings.

 

 

COMMUNICATING WITH PERSONALITY TYPES

 

Here are some tips that will help you communicate with the four personality

types:

      MOVER

As foreman, supervising a "mover" type personality may seem like a challenge.

The foreman must be able to anticipate the mover and create a situation

where they can contribute without dominating the work situation.

 

Often foremen, themselves, are mover personalities and must be aware of

their own tendency to "take over" to the exclusion of all other ideas.

      OPPOSER

If you know a co-worker has an "opposer" type of personality you can use it to

your advantage. People have a tendency to want to ignore or put down

objections from an opposer when, in fact, they actually serve a useful purpose.

As previously stated, an opposer's negative viewpoints may actually be very

insightful if looked at in a positive manner. When this personality type is used

effectively, an opposer's comments can be constructive and useful to the work

effort instead of simply an opposition.

 

Foremen should also pay particular attention to their own need to oppose

when in a leadership role. Constantly playing the devil's advocate, finding

fault and critiquing the ideas of others can, often, be perceived as negative

and unproductive.

      FOLLOWER

In general, the foreman should allow the follower to find their own level and

not put them on the spot too early. Followers are very good implementers

once they commit to an idea. The smart foreman uses this to their

advantage.

      BYSTANDER

As a foreman or leader, it is important to know that bystanders may not

want to be bystanders. Some people become bystanders because they

are not given encouragement, confidence, or training to try any other role.

One good way of dealing with a bystander is to try giving that person a

specific role or job instead of waiting for them to volunteer or asking them

for some type of commitment.

 

 

LISTENING

 

Throughout our educational process we have been taught how to put

our thoughts and feelings into words. Unfortunately, very little of our

educational experience has been devoted to improving our ability to receive

messages. Listening is far more than merely hearing.

 

Receiving is about the message (both the words and the intent) being

transmitted accurately from the sender to the receiver. Receiving is about

asking questions and providing feedback to the sender so that the sender

knows that the message has been accurately transmitted.

 

Effective listening is hard work. To turn off our personal "self-talk" about

how we feel, what we think, what we want, and who we are is difficult. It takes

a conscious effort to listen to another persons ideas and viewpoints.

 

Actively listening to another person increases their feeling of trust and

cooperation. On the job, this generally means a reduction in turnover,

more of a commitment to company goals, higher profits and productivity

due to fewer misunderstandings, improved morale, and an improved sense

of team work.

 

 

THE FOUR LEVELS OF LISTENING

 

Like personality types, listeners can also be thought of in four general

categories; the non-listener, the marginal listener, the evaluative listener,

and the active listener. As with personality types, these categories,

depending on the situation or circumstance, may overlap.

      THE NON-LISTENER

The non-listener, generally, makes no effort to hear what is being said or

will pretend to listen while thinking of something else. You can recognize

the non-listener by the blank stare and possibly nervous mannerisms and

gestures. Frequently the non-listener wants to do all (or most) of the

speaking. The non-listener constantly interrupts and has to have the last

word. The non-listener is perceived as insensitive and irritating.

      THE MARGINAL LISTENER

The marginal listener is a superficial listener. Generally this listener is too

busy preparing a reply to what is being said to really pay attention to the

meaning or intent of the message. The marginal listener is easily distracted

by environmental noises, movements, or his own train of thought. It is

common for many marginal listeners to selectively look for outside

disturbances to use as an excuse for not paying attention to the

conversation.

 

The main problem with marginal listening is that there is enormous potential

for misunderstanding since the listener is only superficially concentrating

on the message.

 

With a non-listener, the speaker can pick up on fairly obvious clues that the

listener is not listening. With the marginal listener, however, the speaker

may think that they have the attention of the listener but, in fact, the listener

is not paying attention at all.

      THE EVALUATIVE LISTENER

The evaluative listener actively tries to hear what the speaker is saying but

doesn't make an effort to understand the speaker's intent. The evaluative

listener tends to be logical and unemotional. The evaluative listener

evaluates the message strictly on the basis of the words delivered, totally

disregarding the vocal tone, body language and facial expressions. This

listener is accomplished at deciphering the words, statistics, and facts of

the message but lacks the sensitivity to "read" the rest of the message.

 

In many cases the evaluative listener believes that they understand the

speaker and yet the speaker does not feel understood.

      THE ACTIVE LISTENER

Active listening is the most comprehensive and the most powerful level of

listening. This is also the most demanding because it requires the deepest

level of concentration and attention.

 

The active listener does not judge the speaker's message but instead focuses

on understanding the speaker's point of view. The active listener focuses

attention on understanding the thoughts and feelings of the other person

as well as the spoken word. Active listening involves suspending our own

thoughts and feelings in order to give attention solely to the message and

the intent of the speaker.

 

Active listening also requires that the listener send verbal and nonverbal

feedback to the speaker indicating that what is being said is really being

understood.

 

 

PRACTICE QUESTIONS

 

1 . What three factors are involved in verbal communication?

2. What is the basis of verbal communication?

3. What are the basic elements to the communication process?

4. Name three examples of "feedback."

5. To what level of understanding should messages be based?

6. Who has the responsibility for determining whether communication has

occurred?

7. What causes misunderstandings?

8. What are the four basic personality types?

9. Which personality type generally "goes along?"

10. What is the "power" of the "follower?"

11. What are the four levels of listening?

 

 

INEFFECTIVE LISTENING

 

Ineffective listening is one of the most frequent causes of

miscommunication. The results of ineffective listening include lower

worker productivity, missed sales, unhappy customers, and an increased

margin of costs and lost profits.

 

Poor listening is recognized as being one of the primary contributors to

divorce and the inability of a parent and child to openly communicate.

 

We all know how it feels to be talking to a poor listener. The listener listens

only to the beginning of the message and then their mind goes to work

imagining where you are going with your idea and how they feel about it.

 

Often the listener interrupts to give their thoughts before the speaker is

even finished. The result of this non-communication is that vital information

is lost and issues are not explored properly.

 

There are some basic reasons for ineffective listening. If we are aware of

them, they can be avoided and we can improve our listening skills.

 

      SPEED DIFFERENCE

The difference between speech speed and listening speed creates a

listening gap. For example, the average person speaks at about 135-1 75

words a minute while the average person can listen to 400-500 words a

minute.

 

For poor listeners, the difference between listening speed and speaking

speed is time spent jumping to conclusions, daydreaming, planning a reply

or mentally arguing with the speaker instead of evaluating body language

and really listening to what is being said.

      LACK OF TRAINING

We do more listening than speaking, reading, or writing, yet we receive

almost no formal training in listening. Many people assume that they are

good listeners when, in truth, few people really are. The normal, untrained

listener is likely to understand and retain only about 50 percent of a

conversation. This 50 percent retention rate drops to an even less

impressive 25 percent after 48 hours.

      LANGUAGE

Words can mean instant understanding if they are used well and are within

the listener's vocabulary. If we use words or phrases not generally

understood, our messages will not be received as we intended. Again, the

message should be based on the listener's level of understanding.

 

 

TECHNIQUES TO IMPROVE LISTENING

 

Practicing the following suggestions deliberately and actively will greatly

improve your communication skills both as a listener and as a sender:

      EXAMINE YOUR OWN ATTITUDE

Remember that your feelings about the person to whom you are talking

with, or listening to, have a great influence on your ability to communicate

effectively with that person. The value you place on the message itself will

also influence what you hear or what you say.

      CONCENTRATE

Remember that good listening is active, not passive. This means that you

must focus your attention on the speaker and decide to listen. By focusing,

you will also eliminate all noises and distractions allowing the message to

be received clearly.

 

Remember, be alert, and allow sufficient time for the other person to share

their point of view.

      BODY LANGUAGE

Body language will show the speaker that you are interested in what is being

said with a nod of the head, a smile, leaning forward with interest, or using

appropriate facial expressions. All of these gestures tell the speaker that you

are paying attention and are interested in their message.

      ORGANIZE THE INFORMATION

By structuring or organizing the information as you receive it, you will improve

your retention and understanding of the message.

      LISTEN OPENLY

Suspend your personal judgments about what is being said until you

have heard the whole idea. Try to listen wholeheartedly from the

speaker's point of view and not your own.

      LISTEN TO ALL OF IT

Wait until the speaker has finished before commenting. As you listen try to

figure out the relevant points and what the conclusion will be, but wait for

that conclusion before you speak.

      FEEDBACK

When appropriate, give verbal responses to let the speaker know that you

are following their train of thought. Clarifying points with questions may be

necessary but do not sidetrack the speaker or their point. Restating the

point to make sure it was received accurately lets the speaker know that

the message was understood and that you are interested in what is being

said.

      IT'S MY TURN TO TALK

Think before responding. Responding impulsively can disrupt

communications. When its your turn to reply to what was said, hook into

what was just said as a point of reference for your statement. This not only

tells everyone you were listening but is a sign of respect to the previous

speaker.

 

To keep the conversation positive and productive, try to avoid the following:

 

Try not to interpret the speaker's words or feelings. You cannot be
certain how they feel. All you can do is tell them what you think they
have told you.

 

Try not to indicate disapproval. Obviously, this will hamper normal
conversation and lead to disputes or arguments.

 

Avoid belittling, making fun of the speaker, or arguing. Nothing is
gained by ridicule or unnecessary conflict.

 

 

EMOTIONAL CONFLICTS

 

There is a real difference between a healthy disagreement and an

emotionally charged, negative conflict. It is natural for people to have

disagreements about how things should be done. A healthy disagreement

can spark new ideas and lead to better solutions or plans of action. When

the differences are combined with too much emotion, however, the results

can be damaging and extremely unproductive.

 

Occasionally you will have to deal with emotional conflicts on the job. Your

ability to resolve these situations in a positive way is important for yourself,

other workers and your employer.

 

Dealing With Emotional Situations

 

Dealing with highly charged comments or messages in a thoughtful

manner is difficult for most of us. With a little practice, however, an

emotional situation or conflict can be de-fused.

 

It's important for a good listener to recognize an emotional reaction from

the beginning. An increased heartbeat, increased respiration, or a facial

flush may all be signs that someone is getting upset.

 

When an emotional reaction begins, there is an almost irresistible urge to

interrupt and argue with the speaker. Instead of interrupting, you should

allow the speaker to finish talking before making a reply or a comment.

Regardless of how provocative the message is, you must concentrate on

understanding the point that the speaker is trying to make. If you continually

interrupt, you most likely will lose your train of thought and objectivity.

 

Here are several strategies that can be used to effectively resolve an

emotional conflict. The situation will determine which method should be

used:

      AVOIDANCE

Avoidance is an instinctive response to conflict. You can recognize avoidance

when someone changes the subject, tries to redefine a conflict so that it no

longer seems to exist, abruptly leaves the scene of the conflict or mentally

tunes out. By avoiding the problem neither party is labelled a winner or a

loser. Avoidance, however, rarely works because it does nothing to resolve

the conflict.

      ACCOMMODATION

Accommodation occurs when someone "gives in" without actually working

through the conflict itself. Accommodation provides a quick, but frequently

temporary, solution because the base issues are left unresolved. Frequently,

the power of the conflicting parties influences the outcome more than the

legitimacy of the complaint or the wisdom of the solution. For example, a

supervisor wants an employee to do something a new way. The employee

feels that it is fine the way it is being done, but agrees anyway. The employee

has accommodated the supervisor but there is no real resolution. There is

a good possibility that the problem will eventually resurface.

      DOMINATION

Domination is a win-lose method that involves a struggle for power and

domination over someone else. The most powerful person, in some cases

the supervisor or foreman, will determine the final solution. In some cases

this strategy can be beneficial. It can resolve a conflict quickly and can be

effective when all parties recognize and accept the power relationship.

 

Unfortunately, this method can create resentment if it is overused since

the final outcome does not take other people's thoughts and feelings into

consideration.

 

The domination strategy, like the other strategies mentioned, may be a

temporary "fix" since it does not treat the real source of the conflict.

      NEGOTIATION

Negotiation is when both sides state their positions and try to reach an

acceptable compromise. Most negotiation situations create a situation where

everyone partially wins and partially loses. Depending upon the specific

situation, this can either be positive or lead to a situation where no one is

completely satisfied.

      COLLABORATION

Collaboration involves a face to face confrontation with the involved parties to

work through the conflict cooperatively. This strategy relies on creative

problem solving to identify a solution that will meet the needs of everyone

involved. Collaboration takes more time and effort but it addresses the

underlying issues of the situation or conflict. As a result, collaboration is

generally the most long lasting and productive strategy for resolving conflict.

 

 

HOW TO SUCCESSFULLY RESOLVE CONFLICT

 

There are four basic behaviors that will help you successfully resolve

any conflict. By using these behaviors you can turn a negative conflict

into a positive disagreement:

      OPENNESS

When dealing with any conflict, always state your feelings and thoughts

openly, directly and honestly. Don't quote other people's negative

statements about the person or situation. Talk about how you feel and

about what you want while focusing on current specifics and problems.

      EMPATHY

Try to understand what the other person is feeling and try to see the situation

from their point of view. Demonstrate your understanding with comments

such as "I appreciate how you feel," or "I can understand your getting that

impression" expressed in a sincere manner.

      BEING POSITIVE

Try to use the conflict as a way to better understand the entire situation

and as a means of finding a better solution.

      EQUALITY

Treat the person and their ideas with respect. Give the person the necessary

time to completely express their ideas.

 

 

THE "DO NOTS" OF EMOTIONAL CONFLICT

 

Sometimes it's not enough to know what we should do, we also need

to be aware of what we should not do when dealing with an emotional

situation or conflict. The following approaches to conflict should be avoided

since they will generally cause more problems in a conflict situation:

      MINIMIZATION

We do not always recognize just how seriously another person may have

taken a comment or a particular action. Often we make light of these

situations by using humor or sarcasm. The end result is that the person

feels unvalued and belittled. When someone brings a problem to your

attention, the best thing to do is to simply acknowledge it.

      BLAME

Because most problems are too complex to be totally caused soley by one

person or one situation, the focus should be on preventing future problems

rather than finding someone or something to blame.

      UNLOADING

When people have worked together for a length of time there are frequently

small grievances that are simply ignored. When a larger problem arises

there is a temptation to dredge up all these small grievances and include

them with the current problem. Although the person "unloading" these

issues may feel better, this seldom helps to resolve the larger conflict.

      LOWBLOWS

When working closely with people, over time we begin to understand their

sensitivities. "Pushing these buttons" or taking advantage of these

emotionally touchy areas in a disagreement can cause a conflict to escalate

making it more difficult to resolve.

      MANIPULATION

Manipulation involves withholding approval or rewards or using personal

charm to get someone to do something regardless of that person's needs

or objectives.

      FORCE

Using force involves the "I don't care what you want, do it my way NOW,"

approach of conflict management. It may get an immediate action but it's

also demoralizing to the other person because it does not acknowledge

their worth or ideas.

 

 

PERSONAL CRITICISM

 

I t is not pleasant but from time-to-time we all receive complaints or criticism.

It may come from your boss, a co-worker, or even a customer. As long

as the complaint is work related and not personal, you owe them the courtesy

of listening.

 

If the criticism becomes personal, insulting or abusive the best course of

action is to terminate the conversation by walking away or delaying the

discussion until all parties can discuss the subject calmly.

 

When listening to a complaint, the following pointers may help:

 

Don't be defensive. Accept what is being said without making excuses.

 

Wait until the person is finished to give your side of the story. This
will not only allow you time to think but it shows that you take their
point of view seriously.

 

If there is some truth to what is being said, acknowledge it. This is
especially true for someone who reports to you so that they know that
they are free to complain if the situation warrants it.

 

Beware of subtle threats or intimidation. If you see them, point them
out as a way of saying that they won't be tolerated.

 

Try to come to a resolution that you both can agree with. Even if a problem
hasn't been solved, you can at least agree on the points that need work.

 

Apologize if you feel it is appropriate.

 

 

SEXUAL HARRASMENT

 

Regardless of your personal attitudes concerning various sexual

harassment situations, one thing is certain - sexual harassment in the

workplace is against the law. Employees are entitled by law to a work

environment that is not sexually offensive.

 

Title Vll of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Equal

Employment Opportunity Act of 1972, prohibits discrimination on the basis

of sex in all terms, conditions, or privileges of employment. The Equal

Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) amended its Guidelines on

Discrimination Because of Sex to define harassing conduct and to reaffirm

that sexual harassment is an unlawful employment practice.

 

It is not unusual for courts to impose stiff penalties on employers and

individuals for sexual harassment. Employers and supervisors can no longer

ignore the seriousness of sexual harassment in the work place.

 

      WHAT IS SEXUAL HARASSMENT?

 

Sexual harassment is defined by the EEOC as unwelcome sexual advances,

requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual

nature when it takes place under any of the following circumstances:

 

  1. When conduct is a condition of employment either stated explicitly
    or implied in some way.

 

  1. When employment decisions are based on whether the employee
    submits to or rejects the harassing actions.

 

  1. When the conduct unreasonably interferes with an employee's
    on-the-job performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive
    working environment.

 

Generally speaking, a sexual harassment situation should include the

following to constitute a chargeable action:

 

  1. There must be some kind of sexual advance.

 

  1. If the victim refuses, there must then be some kind of retaliation by
    the person who made the advance.

 

  1. The threat of retaliation is enough to make a case, even if the threat
    cannot be carried out.

 

  1. It must be demonstrated that an agent of the employer assisted the
    offender in some way such as by ignoring the victim's complaint.

 

      PHYSICAL CONTACT

Mere physical contact is not sexual harassment. Physical contact done in

a sexually suggestive way, however, in an atmosphere of sexual innuendo

may be a different matter.

      COARSE LANGUAGE

Using "foul" language does not necessarily constitute a sexual harassment

situation. If the language is not of a sexual nature and is not directed to or

about a specific person, it may not be interpreted as sexual harassment.

      WHAT IS NOT SEXUAL HARASSMENT?

Many incidents are subject to the EEOC policy but many others are not.

There's a difference between one employee being attracted to another

and showing it in some way and an employee who forces hislher attentions

repeatedly on an unwilling victim. Personal relationships that do not have

a discriminatory employment effect do not generally fall under the EEOC

guidelines.

 

Common sense should play a factor in determining sexual harassment.

Whether an activity establishes a personal relationship or has a

discriminatory effect on employment is determined on a case-by-case basis.

Conduct that may be sexual harassment in one setting may not be in

another.

      THE EMPLOYER'S LIABILITY

The following general situations define when an employer may be potentially

liable for an act of sexual harassment:

 

  1. When a sexual harassment offense is committed by a supervisor or other
    agent of the company. It is inconsequential as to whether or not the
    employer had any knowledge of the situation or even whether the company
    has a policy against sexual harassment. If the offense takes place under
    these circumstances, the company is responsible.

 

  1. The employer can also be held responsible if ordinary employees, or even
    outsiders such as customers, feel that their positions or business entitle
    them to make passes at company employees. In this instance, however,
    the employer must have known or should have known about the situation.
    Also, to the degree to which an employer could have prevented the situation
    and the firmness of the employer's response will be factors in how the
    EEOC looks at the case.

      PROTECTION FROM SEXUAL HARASSMENT

Prevention is the best tool for eliminating sexual harassment in the work

place. The employer must take all necessary steps to protect their

employees from sexual harassment. The following points will help achieve

a no-harassment environment:

 

  1. Have a firm, clear no-harassment policy.

 

  1. Establish a means to investigate complaints.

 

  1. Provide a full and fair investigation.

 

  1. Give out swift and appropriate discipline.

 

  1. Protect the victim from reprisals.

 

      SEXUAL HARASSMENT POLICY

The foundation of any no-harassment plan is a firm policy against

harassment for any reason. The policy must make it clear that the entire

company, from top level management on down, condemns sexual

harassment. The policy must be publicized by posting notices, publishing

bulletins, or stating the policy to all employees. Sexual harassment

awareness should be part of every employee's training, especially

supervisory and management staff.

 

If any company policy is to be effective it must be supported by everyone

especially supervisors or foremen. Supervisors must demonstrate by their

own actions that they support and enforce the no-harassment policy. They

must be alert to possible incidents of harassment and they must take firm

action should a problem become evident.

 

 

DIVERSITY IN THE WORKPLACE

 

Making judgments about people because of race, sex, age, handicaps,

nationality or ethnic groups will only lead to trouble. Individuals differ

in mechanical skills, communication skills, speed and quality of work, as

well as how well they work in various situations. These differences can

have a positive effect on-the-job. Every person should be given a fair

opportunity for employment.

 

 

PRACTICE QUESTIONS

 

  1. What is a "listening gap?"
  2. What are some common signs that a person is becoming upset?
  3. Why does avoiding a conflict rarely work?
  4. What is considered the most long lasting of the conflict resolution strategies?
  5. What are the four basic behaviors for resolving conflicts?
  6. By law, what type of work environment are employees entitled to?
  7. Does mere physical contact constitute sexual harassment?

 

 

 

REVIEW

 

  1. What are the two general types of communication?

 

  1. Will nonverbal or verbal communications more accurately reflect a person's
    state of mind?

 

  1. For communications to be truly effective, who must be involved?

 

  1. How does the sender know that communication has occurred?

 

  1. What is the value of understanding the basic personality types?

 

  1. Which personality type is usually called a "natural leader?"

 

  1. Which personality type generally pushes against whatever is being discussed?

 

  1. Why is effective listening such hard work?

 

  1. What is the main problem of marginal listening?

 

  1. What is the most powerful level of listening?

 

  1. What communication problem is one of the primary contributors to divorce?

 

  1. What percentage of a conversation does the normal listener retain?

 

  1. Why does the domination method of settling conflict often result in resentment?

 

  1. What is meant by "negotiation?"

 

  1. If a criticism becomes abusive, what is the best course of action?

 

  1. What should you do if someone makes subtle threats in a conflict situation?