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How to Deal with Difficult People

How to Deal with Difficult People

One of the ways I have grown in the understanding of conflicts is that they provide one with the opportunity to grow personally and professionally. Learning how to manage conflicts is critical in both personal and professional life. In the workplace, learning how to manage conflicts is a key leadership skill. Organizational leaders deal with conflicts involving employees or customers on almost daily basis. In addition, employees must learn to deal with conflicts before they escalate to levels requiring management intervention. Employees who are good at resolving conflicts are likely to become leaders in the future since it is a key leadership skill. Another way I have grown in the understanding of conflict and conflict resolution is that one can either apply negative or positive ways of resolving a conflict. An example of a positive way of resolving a conflict is through empathy. A negative aspect might be getting judgmental, which may aggravate the situation.

One can apply various strategies to improve day-to-day interactions at work. One of the ways of growing in my ability to understand and manage difficult interpersonal relations is by being a key listener. Listening is important since everyone wants to be heard. Parties in a conflict cannot achieve any progress unless one of them feels acknowledged. In listening, one should focus on what the other person is saying, rather than focusing on what to say next. Another way of dealing with difficult people is responding with empathy. This involves showing that one understands the feelings of another person. For instance, one can inquire in a friendly way why the other person refuses to talk. This would most likely open up communication. Empathy can help in dealing with a judgmental people, argumentative people, hostile people, and even those who refuse to talk.

When dealing with difficult colleagues, it is important to learn how to wait or be patient. When am argument occurs, it is not right for one to insist that they talk about it there and then. Giving the other person time before talking about the issue enables them to reflect on the issue and the actions they have taken. It is therefore important to learn not to respond immediately a conflict ensues. If the other party refuses to talk, one can emphasize on the need to solve things later. The disarming technique is another important way of managing difficult interactions at work. This technique involves agreeing with the other party on what they are saying. The disarming technique involves establishing the truth as per the other person’s perspective or point of view. Even when the other party is criticizing, there could be an aspect of truth in their criticism. Recognizing such aspects will encourage the other person to soften.

The key points to remember are to actively listen and to be empathetic. Listening makes the other party feel significant. Listening sends the message to the other person that one is interested in solving the problem. This makes them more reasonable in addressing the problem. Being empathetic is another key point to remember. Empathy is a crucial step in addressing almost all types of conflicts. Empathy is about showing that one understands the feelings of the other person.

Case: Listening at Different Levels

Response to Rochelle R. Asanti: Collaboration

Response to Rochelle R. Asanti: Collaboration

Collaboration is critical in various aspects of life – not only in solving conflicts but also as a way of achieving great results through teamwork. As you highlight in your post, collaboration enables people to succeed in particular situations. A good example is in a work situation where there might be need for collaboration among various departments in order to achieve the set objectives. There are some aspects concerning collaboration that I may add at this particular point. Collaboration involves developing creative solutions that in one way or another satisfy the other party’s interests. It also reflects selflessness on the parties involved. In collaboration, the parties involved moved out of their comfort zones or give up some things in order to preserve relationships. It is a win/win situation where each party gives up something in order to ensure the other party is satisfied.

The collaborative strategy calls upon the parties involved to invest a lot of time (Rothwell, 2012). This helps in developing understanding and testing assumptions. If the parties do not wish to maintain long-term relationships, then collaboration may not be the most effective strategy. Collaboration is key in building relationships, developing trust, and in fostering respect among parties. In a collaborative environment, parties should address issues facing them directly. They should also do so in ways that express their willingness to let the other party achieve what they need too. From the above, it is clear that the collaboration strategy is appropriate in high value relationships. The goal is for both parties to win.

Related: Case: Listening at Different Levels

The situation you encountered involving the adamancy of some department leaders to support the new model would best be solved through a collaborative model. The reason I feel that collaboration is the best strategy is that there is need to develop long-term relationships with the other departmental leaders. While the collaborative model will definitely help in creating a win-win situation, it also helps in establishing cordial relationships between the parties involved. The solution you implemented to the problem in your department fits the collaborative model. Brainstorming ideas and writing them down as ‘posters’ for later discussion is an excellent way of ensuring collaboration or input of all the parties involved. It expresses the collaborative conflict style in action, whereby the leaders show cooperation and assertiveness in looking for a solution.

The idea of evaluating the points on various posters is a good way of solving conflicts by working together with the others involved. The collaborative approach you used enabled all parties to focus on solving the particular problem. In other methods, however, the focus may not be on the particular problem. For instance, in the accommodative approach, the focus is about the needs of other parties. Conversely, parties in a competing model focus on championing their own interests. According to Lussier (2015), the major advantage of the collaborative model is that it provides parties with the best solutions to their problems or conflict. In other words, it yields the greatest satisfaction to all parties concerned. Collaboration encourages parties to engage in constructive conflict. In the end, the parties reach solutions that satisfy everyone. It is interesting to note that the collaborative method enabled all parties to reach an agreement easily on the way forward. The use of other approaches such as the competing approach would have intensified the conflict among the various individuals.


Lussier, R. N. (2015). Management Fundamentals: Concepts, Applications, & Skill Development. Los Angeles, California: SAGE.

Rothwell, J. D. (2012). In mixed company: communicating in small groups. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Case Review – Creating an Alternative & Motivating Performance Appraisal

Case Study : Mediating a Dispute

Case Study : Mediating a Dispute

It is important to engage Fred and Sally in order to resolve the ensuing dispute. Griffith and Goodwin (2013) identify three approaches that mediators can adopt in resolving disputes among employees. These approaches include the evaluative, facilitative, and the transformative approach. In the evaluative approach, the mediator engages communication between the various parties involved in the disagreement. The mediator has a bigger role to play in that he/she offers solutions to the parties involved. In the facilitative approach, the mediator enhances the communication process but allows the various parties to develop possible solutions to the problem. The transformative approach focuses on enhancing cohesion between the parties in the long term. A facilitative approach can be effective in solving the dispute between Fred and Sally.

The first step will involve establishing the cause of the dispute. There are various issues contributing to the dispute between Fred and Sally. They have differences in their personal approach to work. Fred follows a methodical approach while addressing problems. On the other hand, Sally follows her instincts while solving problems. Sally is also a go-getter. They have poor communication, which is also contributing to the problem. Fred and Sally also hold different values and cultures. It is worth noting that most people hold succinct ideas about what they term as fair, which is part of the personal value system. There are also values that are largely shared by the community. Shared values give a sense of natural justice.

An informal mediation can help in resolving the ensuing dispute. Thus as Joe, I would first engage Fred and Sally separately to brief them on the situation at hand. Individual meetings with Fred and Sally are key in the negotiation process. Individual meetings can enable Fred and Sally to put across their perspectives of the dispute without unnecessary interruption. My role as the mediator is to establish a common ground, and thus encourage Fred and Sally to open up their concerns. My major aim here is to ensure that Fred and Sally agree to participate in mediation. This is by convincing them that participating in the mediation will be for their own benefit, including enhancing their reputation in the organization. It is worth noting that mediation has cost benefits to the organization as well as improving efficiency. Quick resolutions help in reducing employee absence, reducing litigation, and reducing the number of resignations.


It is important for the mediator to observe the principles that guide the mediation process. Roche, Teague, and Colvin (2014) identify three key principles that the mediator should observe during the process. The first principle involves ensuring confidentiality among all parties in a dispute. Confidentiality protects those involved and encourages them to talk freely. The second principle is voluntary participation and willingness among the parties to seek solutions to the problem. Participation in seeking a resolution is based on good faith among parties. Forcing Fred and Sally to participate in the mediation process may not yield benefits since although they may participate, both may refuse to iron out the issues of concern due to lack of commitment. The third principle discourages the application of representation in the mediation process (Roche, Teague, & Colvin, 2014). Fred and Sally should look for a resolution themselves, as this is what constitutes mediation.

Once the parties develop a positive mindset towards looking for a solution to the dispute, it is now time for the mediator to take the next step. In this step, I would talk with Fred and Sally individually inviting them for talks or meeting at a particular place. I would remind them that the meeting would help iron out issues between them and thus improve their performance. I would emphasize on the need to attend the meeting since it would help them develop good working relationships and achieve their set goals. As Joe, I would avoid condemning any of the parties with regard to the ongoing dispute. Blaming one party may not yield positive benefits. According to Griffith and Goodwin (2013), the mediator should make an invitation instead of giving a command to the parties involved in the dispute.

The mediator should note that the parties involved may still be hesitant to attend the meeting. For instance, Fred or Sally may claim that the only solution to the current stalemate is for them to go back to their previous roles within the organization. As the mediator, I would urge them by saying that there are possible alternatives to the problem they may have overlooked. As such, it is important to give dialogue one more chance. I would be a bit persistent in calling on Fred and Sally to the meeting, but insist it is for their own benefit. The mediator should also anticipate issues concerning trust to be raised by the parties (Roche, Teague, & Colvin, 2014). In this case, it is important to assure the parties that these issues will be resolved during the meeting. The goal of the mediator should be to offer hope to the parties that the meeting will yield a resolution.

The mediation environment may influence the effectiveness of the process. It is the role of the mediator to create a favorable mediation environment. According to Griffith and Goodwin (2013), the various factors to consider include the location, time, and the seating arrangement. The appropriate time to hold a meeting is when the parties have more energy. However, this can be influenced by the work schedules of each party. The location for the meeting should be neutral. A neutral location will be any other location apart from my office or any of the parties’ work area. The location should be free from distractions. I will use a square seating configuration while addressing the parties. This seating configuration portrays the mediator as neutral (Griffith & Goodwin, 2013).

During the meeting, I would start with a small talk about the need to develop positive work relationships. I would then suggest some ground rules to take effect during the meeting. For instance, the parties should use respectful language while communicating. Another possible rule is the need to give each a fair chance to voice their opinions (Griffith & Goodwin, 2013). Thus, when one party talks the other party should listen and give time before responding. I would also remind them that although the decisions to be made are not legally binding, they are expected to stick to the agreement reached. As the mediator, I would act independent. During the meeting, my key role would be to develop new ideas that can help in developing a resolution. Another role would be to examine the perceptions of each party towards the dispute. Key things to avoid include focusing much on the history of the dispute, defend legal rights, or counsel any of the party.

The mediation process involves each party telling their part of the story. Once they tell their story, the mediator examines the underlying issues (Griffith & Goodwin, 2013). The mediator ensures the parties follow the ground rules. It would be my role to help move the discussion forward. One way of doing this is by asking open-ended questions. I would then uncover the interests of both parties. For instance, Fred’s interests are working using a methodical approach, while Sally follows her instincts. They also hold different values and cultures. Next, I would frame the issue. This is by asking Fred and Sally how they can use their different work approaches to improve their outcomes and reduce risks. Sally and Fred may then develop various options concerning the issue. For instance, Fred may suggest that Sally should give him enough time to solve problems. They may also suggest that each should solve problems along a particular line or in particular days. I would evaluate the various options and then make a final statement about the issue. The final statement is a suggestion of the way Fred and Sally should handle their work.

There are various challenges that one can face in the mediation process. The main challenge is failure by both parties to agree on possible options (Raines, Kumar Pokhrel, & Poitras, 2013). Another challenge may arise when the mediator misunderstands the dispute between the parties. Distrust between Fred and Sally may be a key challenge in reaching a resolution. Inadequate preparation on my part can hinder the dispute resolution process. Partisan perceptions can negatively influence the process. This is characterized by being over-confident and judgmental by any on the parties involved in the mediation process. Lastly, false impressions by Fred or Sally can negatively affect the mediation process. My key strengths in the mediation process are patience, credibility, adaptability, and initiative.


Griffith, D., & Goodwin, C. (2013). Dispute survival toolkit: Tools for resolving dispute at work (2nd ed.). New York: Pearson. (ISBN-13: 9780132741057).

Raines, S. S., Kumar Pokhrel, S., & Poitras, J. (2013). Mediation as a profession: Challenges that professional mediators face. Dispute Resolution Quarterly, 31(1), 79-97. doi:10.1002/crq.21080

Roche, W. K., Teague, P., & Colvin, A. J. (2014). The Oxford handbook of dispute management in organizations. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Case Review – Creating an Alternative & Motivating Performance Appraisal

Conflict resolution

Conflict resolution

Looking back at the conflicts I have had over the last few years, it is correct to say that I took an interest based relation approach to resolving the disagreement and conflicts by being courteous and non-confrontational focusing on the main issue rather than the individual. However, it is worth noting that the interest-based approach was mainly based on the conflict itself. For the larger part of the resolution, I hand the tendency of collaborating with the disagreeing party. Collaborating with the other warring party helps to create a win-win situation and strives to make sure that both parties are fully satisfied. Through discussion of all issues, we have successfully merged insight over and over again, and this brings the sense of usefulness to all warring parties. Honestly, some of the outcomes of the conflicts were not satisfying, but I will admit most of them were satisfying (Lansford, 2008). The win-win strategy is not always a win situation considering that some parties may feel that their complaints are not fully satisfied and they are forced to compromise and settle for a lower outcome. If taken a more interest-based approach in resolving them, the outcome of the results would have been more satisfied by ensuring that all parties involved play a significant in arriving at the answer to the conflict and to make sure that all needs of the conflicting parties are prioritized. Additionally, to be a good conflict manager I need to develop important skills such as being compromising, competitive, collaborative as well as accommodative.

Conflict management is a process that requires perseverance and understanding to be in a position to listen to other people’s views and opinion to arrive at a decision. Understanding that people come from a different cultural background and do things differently are key is to finding a solution to a problem. To learn more about others cultures, there is the need to study other tribes as well as integrating with them to learn them better (Kerwin, 2010). According to the scriptures, accommodating and telling a brother or a colleague of his or her sins in private; if he listens to you, you have won him or her over. Therefore, interest-based conflict resolution strategies such as collaboration are biblically accepted.

Related: Case: Listening at Different Levels

Classmate discussion response

I think the approach that is the most consistent with a biblical worldview is accommodation. We as humans and sinners often try to negotiate our faith or what the Bible says to do or not do to satisfy our sinning nature. Because of this selfishness, John 3:16 says Christ Himself had to die on the cross to accommodate for us – He put our needs above His own. In Philippians 2:3-6 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage”. He calls us to put others before ourselves as well.

Response 1

Accommodative conflict management style may seem the best since it involves giving the other party what he or she wants. This strategy is always applicable in a situation where one party wants to keep the peace or perceives the issue as minor. Despite the Bible commanding us to treat our brothers as we would like to be treated, accommodating will eventually lead to dissatisfaction of one party since they have to compromise and give up of their complaints (Brown & Hoopla digital, 2011). Exercising humility requires all the conflicting parties to find common ground rather than giving up on their complaints because of the needs of others. Humans are sinners and will eventually commit sins over and over again despite being accommodated.

Based on my reply and discussion above, I deserve to get a B considering that the answer presented above has thoroughly touched almost everything in the discussion board. Therefore, the answer presented has significantly contributed to the discussion and the ideas and concepts presented are substantive, provides good insight on collaborative conflict resolution and the role of cultural sensitivity in the conflict resolution. Moreover, the answer presented provides insight into the challenges associated with collaborating resolution strategy as well as presenting the best way to become a conflict manager and becoming cultural sensitive.


Brown, D., & Hoopla digital. (2011). Conflict resolution. United States: Simply Magazine.

Kerwin, L. B. (2010). Cultural diversity: Issues, challenges and perspectives. New York: Nova Science Publishers.

Lansford, T. (2008). Conflict resolution. Detroit: Greenhaven Press.


Case Review – Creating an Alternative & Motivating Performance Appraisal

Case Study: The Right Response

Situation 1

Question 1

In this situation, the appropriate responses on the communication continua would be:

Solution giving Problem inquiry

Ignore feelings Empathize

Question 2

In the first communication continua, Joe might take more interest in actually hearing and finding out more about what Tina has been going through. It is obvious that Tina wants this because she opens up to share despite them being personal issues. It would be in both their interests for Joe to inquire more about the issue considering it definitely plays a major role in Tina’s behavior lately. After listening and finding out more information about the issue, Joe could move ahead and recommend a solution that will help Tina with her personal life as well as at work such as counselling to help her get through what she is going through by having somebody to talk to confidently and letting out any issues she may have. This will help her be in better shape for work and handle customers well.

For the case of the second response, Joe could better help Tina by empathizing with her situation. Considering that Joe had suspended Tina shows he is her boss which must have made it very difficult for Tina to even share her problems. Getting to the point of talking about one’s personal problems with their boss is normally the last resort which tells us things were really bad for Tina. Joe may empathize with Tina by saying that he understands how difficult being a single parent can be and appreciates the effort she makes to show up on time at work every day. Joe could even offer Tina a few days off to get herself together so that she is in better shape for work. This will make Tina feel appreciated and encourage her to work on her issues in order to give her best at work.

Related:  Case: Listening at Different Levels

Situation 2

Question 1

In this situation, the most appropriate response would be:

Absolute Conditional

Question 2

In this situation, it must be made clear that Tina’s behavior is acceptable without being rude and acknowledging her personal issues. Joe may say that he understands why it may be difficult to handle customers especially when one has their own things to deal with since they can be very demanding at times. However, he will make it clear that Tina should never handle customers the way she did again and that a repeat of the same could have much bigger consequences than just a three-day suspension. To help her not feel like there is too much pressure on her, Joe could move the conversation to the extreme conditional end by saying that Tina could sometimes ask for help from fellow colleagues to handle customers if she felt she was not in the right shape to do it. This would be much better and acceptable unlike her previous behavior.

Situation 3

Question 1

The appropriate responses that Joe should engage here are:

Solution giving Problem inquiry

Superiority Equality

Question 2

Here, Joe should first listen attentively to Tina’s reasons before trying to find a solution for her behavior. Joe could ask questions like, ‘what made you react that way?’ ‘Do you think you would have reacted differently under different circumstances?’ Such questions would help understand further what the real issue is then try to find solutions (Griffith, 2013). Joe could ask, ‘What do you think we can do to avoid this next time?’ This will give Tina an opportunity to contribute in developing a solution rather than Joe working on one alone.

Another suitable approach would be to help Tina understand that we are all human hence vulnerable to emotions which may at times get the best of us. Joe should avoid saying things like ‘why are you the only one with problems?’ This may make Tina feel hurt and extremely damaged beyond fixing. Instead, Joe could say, ‘We all make mistakes, but it is how we chose to fix them that matters.’ This will send an equality message that will make Tina feel understood, supported and able to make things right again.

Situation 4

Question 1

The appropriate response in this case would be:

Evaluative Descriptive

Question 2

In this situation, Joe may say ‘doing such a thing would be wrong’. This would be evaluative because of the lack of reasons or facts behind the decision (Gibson, 1991). Tina may leave the office but without an understanding of why what she was asking was wrong and start thinking Joe only wants to punish her more. Instead, Joe could say this:

Tina, personnel files are there for a reason. They help monitor the progress of an employee and the process of progress also involves some mistakes that unfortunately one must be held accountable for. Your recent disciplinary action is a reminder of a mistake that you did but it is not an identity of who you are or your performance at work. The important thing is to learn from our mistakes and try our best not to repeat them. Removing the record form your file may make you feel better but it is not the solution. From our conversation, it is clear that you understand why you behaved the way you did and the solution lies there.’

Situation 5

Question 1

The appropriate responses in this situation would be:

Solution giving Problem inquiry

Evaluative Descriptive

Question 2

Considering Tina is asking how she can perform her job better shows that she identifies her areas of weaknesses. Before Joe can answer her about performance deficits, she should be able to give those she has identified in herself personally. Joe could ask her questions like, ‘What are the areas that you have noticed need more of your effort? ’This will be an inquiry into the problem which will make Tina open up about her weaknesses before Joe can point out other performance deficits. Once this is covered, Joe can move on to solution giving part of the communication. In this part, instead of Joe taking over the conversation, he could make it a discussion by saying something like: ‘What steps do you think we can take to overcome these deficits?’ This will involve Tina in the process of finding a solution hence making it easier for her to actually apply the solutions she comes up with on her own than those given to her. Once Tina has given her solutions, Joe could give his feedback and also add more solutions to the list. This will show he was attentive and also supports Tina’s desire to do better in future.

When it comes to the second response communication continua, Joe should consider why Tina has chosen to come to him for this issue instead of going to somebody else. Being evaluative in responding to Tina would make her feel ignored n like she is a bother to Joe. Joe could say something like ‘you just work on whatever you feel you need to work out.’ That sounds like somebody trying to get rid of you because that response does not hold any useful information. This may make Tina get discouraged and loose interest in wanting to better her performance at work. Instead, if Joe applies the descriptive part of this continua, he could say something like:

Tina, there are various things that cause performance deficits with the main ones being motivational deficits and discrimination deficit. In motivational deficits, an individual possesses necessary skills but feels no desire to perform them. An example is socialization. One can have good people skills but have no desire to socialize with others. This can be overcome by addressing the roots of the issue and identifying why the desire is missing. When it comes to discrimination deficit, individuals have the necessary skills, are motivated but cannot discern when to use them (Cohen, 1980). For example, anger management is a skill but some people may fail to notice when they get angry hence fail to apply this skill. Therapy can help with most discrimination deficits. I believe you will work out your issues Tina, and with my help you will become a better employee that I know you can be.’

This descriptive response actually gives Tina information she can work with. It shows Joe cares and is ready to help her in her journey to better herself.


Cohen, S. (1980). Aftereffects of stress on human performance and social behavior: a review of research and theory. Psychological bulletin, 82.

Gibson, D. C. (1991). The communication continuum: A theory of public relations. Public Relations Review, 175-183.

Griffith, D. B. (2013). Conflict survival kit: tools for resolving conflict at work. New York: Pearson Higher Ed.

Case Review – Creating an Alternative & Motivating Performance Appraisal

Case: Listening at Different Levels

Case: Listening at Different Levels

What message is the individual giving through his or her words and actions?

Joe is giving the message of a concerned or friendly person. He goes to the loading dock, greets Anton, and even enquires about how he is fairing. Tamiko is giving the message that she is shy, nervous, and fearful through her actions. Through her words, one can get the message that she is unsure of her actions. Tamiko is yet to make a firm decision on whether to report Anton. Sally is giving the message that she us upset and gravely concerned about the matter on hand. This can be deduced from her actions whereby she enters Joe’s office and does not even wait to exchange the usual pleasantries with Joe. Fred is giving the message that is angry through his words and actions. Fred uses abusive language and ticks points using his fingers.

  What might Joe do or say to show that he is hearing content (Level II)?

There are various things that Joe can do or say to show that he is hearing the content. Content refers to the plain facts, data and information that an individual sends to another during the communication process. Conflicts and misunderstandings are likely to arise when the receiver of the message fail to hear the message. Joe can show that he heard and understood the content through two means, which include verbal and nonverbal or behavioral feedback. Feedback is an important component of the communication process. It enables the sender of the message to know whether the recipient has understood all components of the message or instructions.

Behavioral feedbacks relate to the manner in which an individual reacts. Joe might show that he is hearing the content by making gestures such as nodding the head in agreement. For instance when talking to Tamiko, he can slowly nod his head to show that he is listening. This would give a signal to the sender of the message that he understands the content. Joe should make eye contact with the speaker to show that he is actively listening (“Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)”, 2005). Looking sideways could be a strong indicator that Joe is distracted or bored and thus not hearing the content. Another behavioral feedback is body posture. Joe should face the speaker and slightly lean towards the speaker. This shows that he is hearing the content and attentive at the same time.

Verbal feedback, on the other hand, is a strong indicator that the recipient understands the content. One of the verbal feedbacks that Joe can give is to show that he is hearing the content is paraphrase. This involves restating the words of the speaker while making a clarification (Griffith & Goodwin, 2013). For instance, he can respond to Tamiko, “So you say that Anton has been using abusive language around you”. The paraphrase is a strong indicator that the recipient clearly understood the content. It also allows the speaker to make clarifications if there are unclear issues. Another thing that Joe might do is to ask questions (“FEMA”, 2005). Asking questions indicates that one is actually hearing what is being said, but needs clarification on some issues.

What might Joe do or say to show that he is hearing feelings (Level III)?

Feelings are an important aspect in the communication process. Feelings are personal in nature in that others cannot feel what one is feeling. Others can know about one’s feeling when an individual expresses feelings through behavior or when one tells others about his/her feelings. Joe can do some things to show that he is hearing feelings. One of the things Joe can do is to provide an empathic response. An empathic response is a response that shows empathy, or reflects that one is aware of other people’s feelings (Griffith & Goodwin, 2013). For instance, Joe might say to Sally, “I understand your concerns about Anton’s recent behavior.” Empathic responses indicate that the listener (Joe) not only hears the words, but also hears the speaker’s thoughts, feelings, and beliefs (“FEMA”, 2005). Emphatic listening requires hard work and high concentration levels on the speaker’s words and behavioral expressions.

What more can Joe do to encourage the other party to share more so that he can truly understand what the party is truly thinking and feeling?

Joe can do various things to encourage the other party to share more, and in the process understand the feelings of the other party. Joe can avoid any form of distracting behaviors such as grimacing, playing with a pen, and others especially while talking to Tamiko who appears shy. This would ensure that the other party feels encouraged in continuing the talk. Another thing that Joe can do is maintain a positive attitude throughout the conversation. Joe should show sustained interest in the conversation in order to encourage the other party to talk more and express their true feelings (In Martin & In DiMatteo, 2014). Another thing is that Joe should seek clarification when the speaker says things that are not clear. For instance, Joe should seek more clarification from Fred about what is happening and why he is not taking any action. This can be a great way of letting the speaker know that he is actively listening.

Case Study

Define the problem

Anton seems to be complaining bitterly about the misfortunes in his life. His car seems to have periodic mechanical failures. On the other hand, his phone service provider seems to have increased his rates, which is contributing to his ranting about the life’s misfortunes. Tamiko makes a report to Joe that Anton said something about her. She has already shared the details with her friend Sally who advised that she talk to Joe about it. Tamiko seems nervous and anxious about the whole scenario. Sally seems angry as she enters Joe’s office. Sally claims that Anton has been saying bad things about his staff while Fred just lets it go by. Sally calls on Joe to take action against Anton. When Joe runs onto Fred, he appears angry and defensive. He says that the claims made by Sally and Tamiko are exaggerated; he argues that Tamiko and Sally have made a scene over a little joke. He seems to downplay the whole situation. The type of case is a problem case that requires one for identify a problem and develop possible solutions to the problems.

List any outside concepts that can be applied

Various outside concepts can be applied to this case. The first concept is critical theory. Conflict theory holds that the society is in a state of constant conflicts owing to competition among members due to the limited resources. Further, the theory asserts that social order can only be maintained through domination and yielding more power. The other concept that may apply in this case is post-positive theory which holds that order is the norm in any organization. As such, conflicts and misunderstandings are an unacceptable in the organization. A framework that Joe can apply in resolving the growing problem is joint problem solving. Joe should engage negotiation with all parties involved in order to solve the conflict and misunderstandings among workers.

Relevant qualitative data

Anton is a self-centered person. He is more concerned about the problems in his life. He is fondly nicknamed “Mr. Opportunity” probably due to taking advantage of situations. Anton is full of complaining about the problems in his life. Tamiko is a shy person. She is also nervous and fearful. This could the reason why Anton bullies her. Tamiko is unable to make a decision whether to report Anton to Joe saying that, “I’m not sure I should”. Tamiko is fearful since she does not want to get “anyone in trouble”. As such, she would rather tolerate Anton’s behavior. Sally is proactive. She has urged Tamiko to report Anton’s behavior to Joe. Tamiko seems reluctant to make a report. Sally takes action by going into Joe’s office to discuss the matter. Sally is insistent since she has refused to let the matter rest. She is determined that Joe will take the right action against Anton. Thus, even after convincing Tamiko to see Joe, she still goes to report the issue personally. Fred is defensive. He defends Anton’s behavior by downplaying his actions. He openly shows anger by the manner in which he talks.

Relevant quantitative data

Anton is a complainer and seems bitter. When Joe goes to the loading dock, Anton complains about two three things. He says his car is giving him problems, complains about incurring higher charges on his cell phone, and makes a comment that no one cares about his troubles. It is important to consider the number of complaints brought against Anton. So far, Tamiko and Sally have made official complaints concerning Anton’s behavior. Tamiko says that Anton has made some comments about her. Sally also complains that Anton has been saying many bad things but Fred does not seem to care. This indicates that Anton makes the comments frequently and thus the need to look into the issue.

Results of my analysis

The results of my analysis indicate that Anton has been saying bad things that are hurtful to other employees. Qualitative evidence indicates that Anton is a self-centered person, and thus likely to be concerned over his welfare only, while disregarding the feelings and welfare of other employees. It is thus possible that Anton could hurt the feelings of others without minding. Quantitative data indicates that there is more than one report associating Anton with bad utterances that could hurt the feelings of other employees. This is an indication that Anton has made bad comments about others. Fred appears defensive claiming that Anton is minding his own business. This may not be true since it appears that Anton made some bad comments to Tamiko, who first reported the matter to Sally. It seems that it is not the first time that Anton has said bad things concerning others.

Alternative actions

  • Mediation: involves the use of a third party to settle the conflict. The arbitrator could be anyone from Joe to any other person.
  • Integrative bargaining: both parties try to come up with a creative solution to the problem.
  • Compromise: this is a win-win situation that can be reached when either party agrees to give a little or take a little of the compromise in the bargaining situation.
  • Arbitration: this involves the use of a trained third party to settle the conflict, for instance, a lawyer. The matter is settled outside the court.

Preferred action plan

The preferred action plan is mediation. This involves the use of a third party to facilitate the negotiation. The third party does not impose any solution, but guides the parties in reaching a solution to the identified problem(s). The short-term goal of the mediation process is to ensure that the current conflicts do not escalate to unmanageable levels. The medium term goal is to ensure that the employees’ performance is not affected by the ongoing conflicts. The long-term goal is to bring the conflicts to an end and foster a positive work environment.


Griffith, D., & Goodwin, C. (2013). Conflict survival toolkit: Tools for resolving conflict at work             (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Pearson. (ISBN-13: 9780132741057)

In Martin, L. R., & In DiMatteo, M. R. (2014). The Oxford handbook of health communication,   behavior change, and treatment adherence. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). (2005). Effective communication:           Independent study. Retrieved from