A Simulation for Stimulation: Man vs Woman

As you are all probably aware from reading previous posts, I am studying a unit dedicated to conflict in the workplace. To complete the unit successfully, we were required to conduct a simulation, a workshop, to present to managers about possible scenarios involving conflict within the workplace.

Myself and my three fellow team members of ‘Vitality PR’ now had the challenge of coming up with the simulation’s content, what to include and how best to communicate to the managers so everything we were saying would be understood effectively.

The simulation had to last no longer than 20 minutes so we had to be specific in what we were to include. Because of the time restrictions it was necessary to be straight to the point and to focus on one case study and one example only.

Vitality PR, whilst researching possible examples of conflict in the workplace, kept discovering stories of sexism in the workplace. They were all predominantly about women experiencing inappropriate behaviour towards them by their male colleagues and bosses. To represent this a video was shown to the managers that identifies females being discriminated in the workplace.

Pantene: Labels Against Women

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kOjNcZvwjxI

However, we wanted to take a fresh perspective on it and focused on finding cases where the male experienced discrimination. This was now the topic for the simulation. The case study that provided the inspiration for the role play was an experiment that the Guardian newspaper conducted to establish the severity of sexism in the workplace. (Click image to read experiment)

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The simulation included: Definitions, theories, videos, sound clips, poster cue cards, role plays, interaction and a ‘Vitality PR guide to conflict resolution handout’.

The simulation was introduced by identifying a definition of conflict, alongside fox’s model ‘Conflict: Four frames of Reference’ (1966, 1973). The four frame of conflict was significant to the simulation as it identifies four differing perspectives of conflict, which the narrator of the simulation would refer back to throughout the presentation.

A role play was performed, shortly after, that allowed the team members to act out an example, inspired by the case study, of the male (me) being discriminated by female colleagues and boss. The scene was based around an interview opportunity for a permanent position as the female boss’s PA. The candidates are the male: an efficient, hard working and enthusiastic intern who was passionate about the possible job. The female: a party goer who turns up late for work nursing a headache and lacks motivation for the job. The interviewing process identified the sexism in the workplace. It goes without saying, in this scenario, that the male was shown nothing but disinterest and a lack of cooperation during his interview with his passion and enthusiasm dismissed abruptly, which contrasted with his female competitor’s smooth and breezy interview. The use of freeze frames and voice clips, suggesting what each character was thinking, aided the message of sexism being communicated effectively to the managers.

The male then took centre stage communicating and expressing his frustration and upset with big cue cards. He wrote that he was not being treated equally because he was a male and asked the manager’s for their advice. Do I confront my boss? or do I suffer in silence?  The narrator identified, with the help of the managers, that the male was a ‘unitarist’ - one of the four perspectives of the frames of conflict that was outlined at the beginning of the simulation.

Managers said that the male should not suffer in silence but should confront his boss. But confronting management may result in conflict… This issue can be resolved with the help of Oade’s positive negotiation model (2010).

The role-play then rewound to the interviewing process where the male, now adopting an interactionalist approach, went through the process of Oade’s model and showed the managers how employees can address their issues professionally and respectfully – showing passion and knowledge that should establish a common ground between them both.

The simulation tested all of us who were conducting it and it actually made us reflect on how we would tackle this issue if we were involved in a similar situation in the future. It was beneficial to present and participate in the simulation conveying and adopting possible alternative actions and identifying positive or negative results. The whole unit has fully equipped us for working life and has greatly benefitted me personally. I feel supported in all the knowledge that I have gained from the unit and feel less anxious when starting work in the real world. BRING IT ON! I’M NOW ARMED WITH MY KNOWLEDGE! Thank you!

‘Gone’… Viral

Normally when someone feels that they have served a company long enough, an amicable resignation is a common practice. However, not for employee, Marina Shifrin

In 2013, Marina felt that it was time to leave her job and inform her boss of her decision. Marina’s resignation has since gone viral! The regular practice of handing in your resignation is by letter or a meeting with your boss.

Marina took a unique and brave approach, instead. She let her boss know through an interpretive dance video to Kanye West’s song ‘Gone’. Ok the company Marina worked for creates news videos but was this the most appropriate action for her to take? Have a watch and let me know what you think!

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Part of me applauds her bravery and boldness. Another part of me finds the dancing and song choice quite comical. I was engaged (I know the public wasn’t predominantly her main targeted audience) but I cannot help but feel that is was… unprofessional. The content and message within the video seemed almost childish. This reflects my first post regarding childish behaviour and conflict. Nothing says ‘slap in the face’ more than negatively accusing your boss of being more interested in views rather than content. On the plus side, the video did receive over 17 millions views – something that will make the boss sit up and take notice!

What’s your opinion? Do you think it is appropriate because she worked for a media company? Would you ever consider a creative way in resigning? Let me know!

Let’s now compare this to an example of how an employer tackled staff leaving. A perspective from the other side…

It is always difficult to tell your staff that the company is going under and are being forced to make their staff redundant. However, I don’t think employees in the department store in Hexham, England could absorb the news and be as understanding if it wasn’t for the way they were told. It was a normal Friday, the Robbs store was busy and staff were working hard as normal… until the fire alarm silenced the sound of ringing tills. All 140 employees, as efficient as they were, congregated at the designated meeting point before the gates were tightly padlocked behind them. The manager, body guarded with his administrators, when faced with now confused workers declared: “That Fire Alarm Is False, But Hey, Speaking Of Fires, You’re Fired”. OOH THE BURN! I can imagine anger and rage spread amongst the employees like wildfire!

These two cases outline ‘unqiue’ approaches to dealing with resignations and redundancy but are they professional? or acceptable?! Shouldn’t an amicable and professional meeting be held between both parties to discuss and address the issue (of their employment) and find a common ground. After all, their ‘unique’ approaches could infect ‘fuel the fire’ (excuse the pun) and create conflict instead of resolving the matter.

 

What is your opinion? How would you feel if you were the employee or employer? WHAT’S YOUR VIEW?

Conflict Resolution or Resign?

One of the units that I am currently studying at university is dedicated to Persuasive communication. Within one of the lectures we were shown a video that demonstrated examples of conflict within the workplace and how they should be resolved correctly.

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Although the video was made a decade or two ago, the messages remain the same today. The narrator of the video, using freeze-frames and fly on the wall techniques, allowed you to feel part of the conflict. One of the main messages of the, somewhat dated video, was that conflict can be damaging if not dealt with properly. Two scenarios were the main subjects of the video: Two separate employees experiencing conflict with their managers. The effects were clear. They felt de-motivated, ignored, dissatisfied and stressed as a consequence.

So how should they deal with the situation? Cause havoc? Go into their bosses’ office – all guns blazing, and give them a piece of their mind? That’s one extreme. Or the other would be to ignore the conflict, hope it goes away and allow the effects to possibly worsen? The best way is to establish a mutual understanding…

Communication is key! The video identified a suitable step-by-step guide to resolving conflict appropriately:

  • Analyse conflict
    • Look past personalities clashes.
    • Identify YOUR needs and interests as well as THEIRS
    • Find a common ground
  • Prepare to meet
    • Arrange a meeting
    • What to say?
    • How will they react?
  • Manage meeting
    • Start positive and stay positive
    • Be assertive (use ‘I’ to start conversation)
    • Focus on the issue
    • Ask open, closed, probing and challenging questions to seek engagement
    • Avoid aggressive body language
    • Gain some agreement
    • Explore options together
  • Review outcome
    • Reflect to clarify (check what you both have said)
    • Summarise

Putting this into practice, using role-plays, was when we (students) were able to put ourselves into these employees’ positions. Its all well and good watching conflict be performed by bad actors with 90s hair and baggy patterned shirts, (elements that were distracting from the seriousness of the subject) but creating a scenario ourselves actually helped understand how frustrating and damaging conflict can be.

So lets put this into reality!

According to Alan Hall, a contributor to Forbes.com, “more than 2 million Americans are voluntarily leaving their jobs every month”. But why?

A recent study by Accenture reports:

  1.  They don’t like their boss (31%),
  2.  A lack of empowerment (31%),
  3.  Internal politics (35%) and
  4.  Lack of recognition (43%).

These are all examples of conflict in the workplace but as million people have left their jobs, it shows that conflict has defeated them. This supports the message of the video: Conflict can be damaging if not dealt with properly!

Have you experienced conflict in the workplace? I’d like to hear your story! How did you tackle the situation? Was it resolved?

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Conflict. From Child to Childish Behaviour.

How do you behave when you experience conflict? Do you behave like the sensible and reasonable adult that you are… or like a 2 year old throwing your toys out of the pram? Image

We all experience conflict, young and old.

Conflict is something that we are educated and exposed to very early on in life. Conflict is a disagreement or argument between 2 or more people. How is conflict communicated to us?

For children, conflict and confrontation could be as simple but yet as upsetting as not sharing toys with a playmate. Communicating the ‘right thing to do’ to a child is not easy but very important. What better way than to educate them than via TV?! Stick a colourful muppet and Mrs Doubtfire in front of a camera and any kid is engaged… or terrified!

Robin Williams aka Mrs D, along with his fury friends, on the hit kids tv show ‘Sesame Street’ tries to humourously talk to children about conflict.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gl3e-OUnavQ

Using humour is a fun way to communicate a serious subject.

Its interesting to see how children respond to conflict and when they’re in frustrating situations. Normally a slap or a shove seems to resolve it in their eyes. But actually adults behave as equally as childish - but minus a rattle and less violent.

The American Office play on this easily relatable behaviour and show how adults create conflict in the workplace.

http://youtu.be/5SnSzo4AbRI

As you can see, humour is the common similarity between both (educational?) videos. Using dry and serious material won’t be as effective in changing behaviour.

However, as funny as these two may be, none of them actually inform you on how to deal with conflict or to resolve hostile/frustrating situations positively and successfully. How to deal with it is left to the individual or viewer watching them… so how would you deal with conflict?

My next blog post is dedicated to how we are encouraged to settle conflict and disagreements (especially in the workplace) but firstly, it will be interesting to hear how YOU would do so…

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