Q: I've been a union steward for years. During conflict, I've noticed that people sometimes make accusations because they're losing. How do you keep...

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I’ve been a union steward for years. During conflict, I’ve noticed that people sometimes make accusations because they’re losing.

How do you keep a conversation focused on solutions, not blame?


In the workplace, many folks are not comfortable with intense emotional outbursts. Employees with poor emotional impulse control can end up manipulating everybody.

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People at work expect rationality and logic to be the main motivators. The reality that emotions drive much business behavior is confusing. Most people don’t handle their own emotions well, much less those of others.

The employee who believed a co-worker was “crossing her out” needed to be held accountable to do more than blame. Employees have every right to get huffy, but they also need to find a way to work with people who make them huffy, or lose their jobs.

There’s no way for people to work together without irritating each other. People who pitch fits are more interested in drama and attention than doing a job.

We don’t have great conflict-resolution technologies. Conflict is either ignored or allowed to run wild. Organizations would be more effective and harmonious if we stopped pretending emotions aren’t part of the workplace.

Working together doesn’t mean liking everyone we work with. It does mean we are responsible for dealing with each other in a way that gets tasks accomplished. Emotions will be a central part of work as long as people, not robots, compose the workforce.

Recognizing emotions, developing emotional technologies and holding people accountable to deal effectively with their emotions would improve the productivity and enjoyment of work.

As a union steward, you can contribute to a solution and stop perpetuating the problem.

The last word(s)


I’d like to get even with a co-worker who continues to make me look bad in front of our boss. How can I point out that he’s a snake in the grass?

It’s very hard to get ahead when you’re focused on stabbing someone else in the back. Instead, promote your own good work. The contrast will be obvious.

Daneen Skube, Ph.D., can be reached at 1420 N.W. Gilman Blvd., No. 2845, Issaquah, WA 98027-7001; by e-mail at interpersonaledge@comcast.net; or at www.interpersonaledge.com. Sorry no personal replies. To read other Daneen Skube columns, go to: www.seattletimes.com/daneenskube