Workplace bullying

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Source:  Bullying in the workplace | BlogHer

I found the above article by Laura Petrecc which I though may interest readers of my blog.  She talks about bullying, how often the first thought when bullying is mentioned is that of phyical form of bullying, next comes bullying within schools. Often overlooked is the fact that bullying also happens in the workplace.

She talks about how bullying is assumed to target others on the grounds of;

  • race,
  • ethnicity,
  • sexual-orientation,
  • or anything that is physically manifested such as disability or difference in appearance or behavior.

Work bullying does not restrict itself to that of colleagues but also comes from those who benefit from managerial positions.  Click on the link above to read her full article.


Many organisations including the public sector carry out staff surveys and sadly there is often a notable percentage of staff who have experienced or witnessed workplace bullying, additionally we often also see an percentage of staff surveyed who decline to comment on this.  What is the reason why someone would decline to comment on a confidential staff survey?  Is it because despite assurances from senior management that the workforce simply do not believe that ‘confidentiality’ is exactly that?

Another source who wished not to be named claimed that he, being a fresh graduate from the same company’s training of six months, had to request a sick leave due to stress after the manager demanded that he ought to make even more sales. He had made more than half-a-dozen sales in three weeks, a significant number for a ‘newbie.’

Do managers foster insecurity within the workforce?  Do employees live in fear that if they speak up because they or their colleagues are being bullied that, especially in the current financial climate, they would be putting their employment at risk of termination or that they themselves would also become a victim because they are speaking out in support of others?

Many organisations have HR departments who are there to protect managers but who does the employee have to turn too?  Many are told they can also turn to HR for assistance but how is the information utilised?  Where there is a conflict how does the HR person deal with it if both sides of a situation are turning to them for advice or support?

What is the percentage of staff who are experiencing stress and difficulties in the workplace which can be put down to the culture of the management and the way they run the organisation with focus purely on hitting targets and not valuing the workforce they have already or not investing in them?

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Workplace Bullying Survey results announced

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Read the full article here:  2010 WBI U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey, the National Poll

Check out these findings on work place bullying in America.  There is no place for bullying in todays society whether it be in the school yard, online social networking sites or in the workplace.  It is important people are given support and help when they speak up and out the bullies.

Key Findings

* 35% of workers have experienced bullying firsthand (37% in 2007, given the MOE, essentially equivalent)
* 62% of bullies are men; 58% of targets are women
* Women bullies target women in 80% of cases
* Bullying is 4X more prevalent than illegal harassment (2007)
* The majority (68%) of bullying is same-gender harassment

Prevalence of Workplace Bullying

35% of the U.S. workforce (an est. 53.5 million Americans) report being bullied at work; an additional 15% witness it. Half of all Americans have directly experienced it. Simultaneously, 50% report neither experiencing nor witnessing bullying. Hence, a “silent epidemic.”

Gender and Workplace Bullying

Both men and women bully, but the majority of bullying is same-gender harassment, which is mostly legal according to anti-discrimination laws and workplace policies. Women target women.
WPB Prevalence

Recommended Reading

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Is Gossiping Bullying

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Cover of Nasty People

ONE of Wall Street’s most feared traders declares that employees who gossip about co-workers will be fired for behaving like “slimy weasels”.

Self-made billionaire Ray Dalio’s list of rules to his 1000 employees detailing behaviour that he would not tolerate at his firm, Bridgewater Associates, was leaked onto the internet.

Mr Dalio, who is estimated to be worth $4.75 billion, said any staff members who were overhead gossiping maliciously about a colleague three times would be fired, The Australian reports.

“Never say anything about a person you wouldn’t say to him directly,” he wrote in the document, called ‘Dalio rules’.

“If you do, you are a slimy weasel.”

The rule cuts both ways, with company meetings stored in a “transparency library” so staff can find out what their managers are saying about them. In turn, bosses can hear any nasty nicknames they have acquired.

Mr Dalio said that his workers loved his anti-gossip rules which he claimed promoted honesty within the workplace.

Gossip is passive bullying

Gossip is considered a passive form of bullying, where the victim is undermined behind their back, experts say.

There are no exact figures on the level of workplace bullying in Australia but research shows that around one in five people have experienced bullying in the workplace.

One New York life coach, Beth Weissenberger, teaches executives to find the source of gossip and punish the rumour-monger.

“Everyone draws up their own definition of what makes harmful gossip,” Ms Weissenberger said.

“I am not talking about the silly stuff – celebrities are fair game – but the toxic spite and resentment which kills camaraderie and gets in the way of running a business.

“(However) I have not heard of people being fired for gossip: that is new.”

Article Source and to Read more:

I read the above article with interest.  I am impressed with the stance thatelf-made billionaire Ray Dalio’s has taken however with 1000 employees this will be one company policy which will be hard to regulate.  Much will depend on whistle blowing by staff which in can can unsettle relationships between team members.  Sadly gossiping is something encountered amongs peers and colleagues, often playground behavour that has continued uncheck into adulthood and the workplace.  I will be interested to see how this is handled in practice and what the results are.


Recommended Reading

Bullying at Work: How to Confront and Overcome it

Fighting Back: How to Fight Bullying In the Workplace by David Graves

Nasty People by Jay Carter

Gossip Again and You’re Fired | Sterling Performance | BNET

One person’s ‘gossip‘ is another person’s way of networking, relationship building, sharing ideas and talking through technical problems. As an intravert, I love the idea of a peaceful office where I have more control over interruptions …

Publish Date: 07/06/2010 17:09

How to Deal With Office Gossip

There’s an office gossip in every company. The only employee who thinks gardening means tending the office grapevine. The person who knows so much you’d swear s/he is bugging your office, and filling in the blanks with National Inquirer …

Publish Date: 06/30/2010 8:44

Office Coffee Politics

The market for coffee machines are better than ever … and without these consumer devices, where we were to hold the meeting Office gossip … there really is no place better suited to office gossip and office gossip “coffee … but do …

Publish Date: 07/05/2010 6:39

Office Gossip

Founder of WORKS by Nicole Williams and author of best-selling career book Wildly Sophisiticated, Nicole Williams gives her unique perspective on what WORKS in the office. In this segment, Nicole Williams gives all the do’s and dont’s of office gossi…

Office Gossip

From the D-generation

Gossip In The Office And Workplace / Educational Video

Gossip In The Office And Workplace / Educational Video. Production Company: Calvin Company; Keywords: workplace politics. Gossip in the workplace is a form of social interaction between two or more co-workers in which speculation and opinion about ot…

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Dealing with workplace bullies.

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Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Article Source:  How to deal with workplace bullying – Resource centre – Employment news & views – Career FAQs

How to deal with workplace bullying
By Josie Chun

When you think of bullies, you may think of the beefy kid at school pushing and shoving the runt of the class. But bullies are no longer consigned to the school playground. They can be found in the workplace lurking around office cubicles, behind counters and desks or loitering around the water cooler – and more than your lunch money could be at stake.

Workplace bullying is not always overt; it can be subtle but insidious. It is a serious issue that not only causes a risk to the health and safety of the victim, but can also affect the whole business. And occasionally, as in the tragic case of 19-year-old Brodie Panlock who committed suicide as a response to workplace bullying, the consequences can be dire.
Bullying is more common than many people realise, with WorkSafe’s annual research consistently showing that 14 per cent of Victorian workers had experienced bullying.

No bullies in our house
While you may be extremely lucky to have a relaxed workplace, remember that not everyone shares the same sense of humour. People have different sensitivities and sometimes what is intended as playful joking can come across like a personal attack. Employees can be reluctant to tell employers how they feel for fear of causing trouble or losing their job. As an employer you may be unaware that bullying is taking place in your office, but it is your duty to provide a working environment that is safe and without risks to the health of your workers.

It is also the responsibility of co-workers to speak up if they witness bullying in the workplace. Workers have a duty to take reasonable care for their own health and safety, as well as the health and safety of others in the workplace. They also have a duty to cooperate with actions their employer takes to comply with OHS laws.

What is bullying?
Bullying can come in many forms but can generally be defined as repeated unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or a group of workers that creates a risk to health and safety. Whether intended or not, bullying is an OHS hazard.

Bullying behaviour can be direct and can run the gamut from verbal abuse and putting someone down to spreading rumours or innuendo about someone, or interfering with someone’s personal property or work equipment.

It can also be indirect and includes behaviours such as unjustified criticism or complaints, deliberately excluding someone from workplace activities, deliberately denying access to information or other resources, withholding information that is vital for effective work performance, setting tasks that are unreasonably above or below a worker’s ability, deliberately changing work arrangements, such as rosters and leave, to inconvenience a particular worker or workers, setting timelines that are very difficult to achieve, and excessive scrutiny at work.

Bullying does not, however, include things like constructive feedback, downsizing or deciding not to select a worker for promotion.

The effects of bullying
Bullying has profound effects on both individuals and organisations, leading to loss of productivity, high staff turnover, increased absenteeism, drops in employee performance, low morale and possible legal costs. These are not things that businesses can afford to ignore, either from a professional or ethical standpoint.

Bullied individuals can be physically or psychologically damaged and are more likely to make mistakes that lead to injuries. They can also experience increased muscular tension and are more likely to develop occupational overuse syndromes and low back pain.

Workplace policy
Workplaces need to develop and implement a policy on bullying prevention that sets out standards of behaviour and clearly identifies inappropriate behaviour that will not be tolerated.

Procedures should outline how reports of bullying will be dealt with and ensure that the process is objective, fair and transparent, as well as confidential.

The employer’s response should be guided by the following principles:

* Treat all matters seriously
* Act promptly
* Don’t victimise anyone who raises an issue of bullying
* Once a complaint has been made, all involved parties should be advised of available support and treated with sensitivity, respect and courtesy
* Act with impartiality towards all parties, avoiding any personal or professional bias
* Communicate with all parties about the process (how long it will take and what will happen), providing clear reasons for any actions taken
* Consult with health and safety representatives
* Treat all complaints with confidentiality, revealing details only to those directly involved
* Document the process, recording all meetings and interviews with details of who was present and agreed outcomes

How to deal with workplace bullying
Sometimes a clear and polite request to stop the behaviour, which can be made by the person affected, their supervisor or manager, or another appropriate person, is all that is required to stop the bullying behaviour. The supervisor or manager should document the request and its outcome.

In other cases, when the direct approach does not resolve the issue, mediation or discussion with a third party may be required. A neutral and independent person can assist resolution through discussion of the issues when all concerned parties agree to this approach.

When a serious allegation has been made, a formal investigation should be conducted to determine if the report of bullying is valid. At the end of an investigation, recommendations should be made about the measures that should be undertaken to resolve the matter, with the outcome communicated to the involved parties in a fair and unbiased way.

Strategies for resolution
There are a number of strategies that managers and employers can implement to put an end to bullying behaviour in the workplace:

* Gain a commitment from the perpetrator to cease the behaviour (direct approach)
* Move the perpetrator away from the affected person
* Require an apology
* Implement disciplinary action
* Mediation (where both parties agree to mediation and to the mediator)
* Provide coaching, counselling support and/or mentoring to the affected person
* Provide a structured program to reintegrate the person into the workplace
* Review workplace policy with all workers and managers
* Run an awareness update
* Provide workgroup and organisation-wide training

What is Workplace Bullying?

Join Valerie Cade as she explains the difference between working with workplace bullies vs. difficult people. Valerie is a workplace bullying expert, speaker and author of Bully Free at Work which is distributed in over 100 countries worldwide.

Vicious Cycle of Workplace Bullying

Slide show about the ineffectiveness of most organization’s dealing with a workplace bully.

WSJ: For businesses, bully lawsuits may pose new threat

A significant number of U.S. workers say they are— and soon those in New York may be able to sue their employers, including small businesses, for any suffering they experience at the hands of a toxic boss or other workplace bully. …

Publish Date: 05/26/2010 22:06

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Bullying and Intimidation at work

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Bully for you: Intimidation at work | Money | The Guardian

Bully for you: Intimidation at work

Personal intimidation in the workplace can be hard to define and doesn’t always come from above. Cath Janes looks at the grey area where bluntness ends and bullying begins

Bullying happens in many places, put is often hard to define in the workplace. Illustration: Simon Pemberton

The allegations levelled against Gordon Brown this week are a timely reminder that bullying is not ­simply the domain of the playground. Workplace bullying is on the rise, a by-product of the added pressure placed on workers and employers by the recession.

It can be hard to know where to draw the line between gruff management style and intimidation of a darker, more personal nature. Yet for some, the question of whether their boss is a bully needs no debate.

“Early in my career I had a boss so awful that I used to cry over the things he said,” says lawyer Julie English. “Nothing I did ever seemed good enough and he used to have tantrums and shout at people. Then two years later I found myself working with a boss who prided himself on his honesty. He was really brutal and I sometimes wondered if he too was deliberately trying to make me cry. Looking back, I was surrounded by dysfunctional people.”

It’s a familiar tale: tears, tantrums, the nagging feeling that you’re no good. So it may surprise you to know that English doesn’t believe this was bullying. “It never even occurred to me that this constituted bullying,” she says. “They were difficult colleagues but they made me raise my game and made me a better lawyer. I learned a lot of lessons from them that other, kinder bosses failed to teach me.”

Employers should have zero tolerance for intimidation or bullying, but does that mean there is no place for straight talking?

According to the Department of Trade and Industry, bullying is the intimidation of an employee by physical or verbal violence, abuse or humiliation. It includes being picked on, being unfairly treated or blamed for incidents, being routinely overworked and consistently denied career or training opportunities. It is behaviour that happens privately or in front of colleagues and in any form of communication.

It is an issue underpinned by startling statistics. A recent survey by the Unison union and Company magazine revealed one-third of young women claim to have been bullied, often by other women. The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) claims 70% of managers have witnessed bullying in the last three years and that bullying costs the UK £13.8bn per year.

Yet there is a danger in confusing bullying with straight talking. To assume that the latter is always the former could make us incapable of looking our colleagues in the eye for fear of unbalancing their delicate constitutions. So when is a bullying boss really only a gruff manager?

When their comments are connected to the work and not the person, says Mandy Rutter, clinical manager at Axa Icas, health and wellbeing specialist: “They won’t have personal criticisms about that person, won’t single them out and will be consistently straight talking with everybody. It may be difficult to hear comments connected to performance or behaviour but it is also adult-to-adult communication with evidence to back it up.”

Honesty can be warranted yet cruel and, according to Rutter, when we are under stress we respond emotionally.

There are occasions, though, when tough talking is needed. The recession has demonstrated this and redundancies, restructuring and bankruptcy have forced us to have the difficult conversations we’d rather avoid.

“We need to get better at having robust dialogue because difficult conversations about employee performance are one of the biggest challenges for managers and it’s too often avoided,” says Penny de Valk, chief executive of the Institute of Leadership and Management. “If there is not a performance culture in an organisation some employees will see this as bullying because they haven’t experienced it before. In fact it can be beneficial to have a frank approach and staff can thrive on that clarity. It is not bullying to address important issues, gain clarity or acknowledge what an employee has done to contribute to an issue. Softening the message too much means it can get lost.”

Nina Dar, founder of Cheeky Monkey, a change management consultancy, agrees. She admits she shocks clients’ employees because she is direct and honest, but believes this is the key to success.

“I’ve had grown men tell me that I’m scary. I’ve also seen people cry because of my comments. Yet increasingly we see employees who are happy to work with this style because they want to be treated like adults who can handle challenges,” she says.

“This is different to bullying, which means hurting someone, lashing out at them, being inconsistent and chipping away at their confidence. I recognise that if employees want to work as a team they have to talk to each other honestly. It’s about having adult conversations and enjoying the results.”

Yet tough talking can become bullying, an easy line to cross. Bullies erode an employee’s judgment, sometimes so subtly that it is hard to know what is unacceptable. The issue is further complicated by the stereotypes. We can be so busy scrutinising superiors for bullying behaviour we forget to scrutinise those alongside or below us.

“I took on a job with managerial responsibility and one colleague, to whom I was senior, caused me enormous problems,” says teacher Mike Durrant. “He was an awkward character and refused to co-­operate with the changes I was proposing. He’d deliberately miss meetings and refuse to share tasks. I complained to our line manager and was told to learn to deal with him.

“It got worse. He’d shout at me in classrooms or meetings and became determined to battle me. I also discovered that my predecessor had left because of him, as had someone more senior. I had no control over him and my managers did nothing either, so I had no one to turn to for help.”

Durrant developed such serious depression he had to be hospitalised and has been unable to work since 2008. He is in no doubt this bullying is responsible for his ill health.

According to a CMI survey, 63% of managers have witnessed bullying between peers and 30% have witnessed subordinates bullying their managers.

Yet while some behaviour, such as discrimination, threats or violence, is clearly defined legally, bullying is a grey area. Elin Pinnell, an employment law specialist at Capital Law LLP, says: “There should be zero tolerance of bullying in any workplace yet there is no rule book about what defines it. Take swearing. If you work on a building site and it is part of the daily banter, does this constitute bullying? You can debate it until you are blue in the face but it really does depend on the impact it has upon each employee.”

Also, those displaying this behaviour may be unaware of its impact. “I don’t know if he was being a bully,” says marketing manager Jim Davies of a former-colleague. “There were times when butter wouldn’t melt and he’d be upset to know he’d hurt you. But then his deviousness would be so transparent that he looked like a man who actually enjoyed bullying people.

“He was also very manipulative. He’d temper his comments with ‘I’m only being honest’, or ‘It’s not about you, it’s about the business’, which allowed him to say anything he liked. Work was one big guessing game and innocuous actions would cause him to explode. The shock meant you’d be incapable of responding to it.”

Remind you of anyone? There’s an argument that the management style of celebrities such as Gordon Ramsay, Sir Alan Sugar and Simon Cowell don’t help. Most people confronted by such an approach would feel humiliated yet we tune in to point and laugh at chefs, apprentices and singers who are clearly distressed. Is it any wonder that we struggle to distinguish tough talking from bullying?

“What works on TV just doesn’t work in reality,” says CMI chief executive Ruth Spellman. “You can recognise tough behaviour if you know how, though. Ask whether your colleague or boss is a tough listener as well as a tough talker. Can you have your say as much as they have theirs? And are you confident you can trust them, and that they are acting consistently? If so they’re not necessarily your enemy. That confidence, consistency and trust could benefit you in a way that a bully never could.”

Some names have been changed
What to do if you think you’re being bullied

First, talk it over with someone to establish whether the behaviour you are being subjected to really does constitute bullying. If you belong to a union, your rep should be able to help. DirectGov, Citizens Advice (0844 848 9600) and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (0845 604 6610) are also good contacts.

Acas, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (08457 474 747), offers advice and has a useful leaflet entitled Bullying and Harassment at Work, which is available by post or online. If you speak to an outside agency or charity, make sure it follows clear guidelines on maintaining confidentiality.

Once you are sure you are being bullied, take the following steps:

• Try to find out if anyone else you work with is suffering from or has ­witnessed bullying behaviour from the person concerned.

• Keep a diary of incidents, including dates, witnesses and your feelings at the time. Keep copies of emails you think form a wider pattern of bullying.

• Make the person aware of his or her behaviour and ask them to stop. You could ask a colleague or union official to act on your behalf.

• If you can’t confront the person, consider putting your objections to him or her in writing. Keep copies of any correspondence. Keep your tone unemotional, and stick to the facts.

• Employers are responsible for preventing bullying and harassment. If you decide to complain to your employer, ask for information on its grievance procedures.

• Instead of taking disciplinary action, your employer (or you) may wish to follow different ways of resolving the situation, such as mediation.

• If you have to resign due to bullying, take legal advice. You cannot make a legal claim directly about bullying, but you may be able to make a constructive dismissal claim against your employer on the grounds that it is neglecting its “duty of care”. You will have a better chance of success if you can show the tribunal you have followed the steps above and complied with any attempt by your employer to resolve the situation.

• Complaints can also sometimes be made under laws covering discrimination and harassment if, for example, you think you are being bullied on the grounds of age, sex, race, disability, religion, sexual orientation, nationality or any personal characteristic. Graham Snowdon

Workplace bullying – a problem for employer and employee alike

To minimise the risk of bullying, employers should encourage appropriate behaviour from all employees in the workplace. They should not tolerate unacceptable conduct, should address complaints promptly and appropriately, …

City lawyer seeking £19m over workplace bullying claim settles for …

A City lawyer who had claimed £19m in compensation over workplace bullying has settled for an undisclosed multi-million-pound sum. Gill Switalski, 54,

There is No Excuse for Bullies at Work (or Anywhere Else)

If you are a manager it is your responsibility to prevent workplace bullying. If you are a recipient of bullying, you are not alone, take action. If you are a witness to workplace bullying, you can do something about it. …

Further reading

Fighting Back: How to Fight Bullying In the Workplace by David Graves

The Importance Of Business Coaching To Conflict Resolution

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The Importance Of Business Coaching To Conflict Resolution

Do you have a business management degree or years of experience running a money-making small to medium sized business? If you are looking for a new career path or if you want to increase your moneymaking opportunities, business coaching is the way to go. Both a degree and on the job experience deems you qualified enough to teach others.

When offering your services as a business coach, there are many areas of business you need to consider. Marketing is the most common. Marketing enables the public to know about a company and the products or services they sell. Your step-by-step guide to running a successful and profitable business should include marketing, but don’t forget the smaller aspects. For example, conflict resolution.

Conflict is common in the workplace and it comes in many various formats. Coworkers have conflict with each other. Supervisors have conflict with their employees. Business owners and workers have conflicts with clients. Honestly, the list goes on and on. Although conflict is common in the workplace, it is unhealthy. It is your job to teach small business owners and their employees how to avoid workplace conflict and how to resolve it quickly and peacefully.

One of the best ways to teach your clients about conflict resolution is with role-playing. If hosting a seminar retraining employees, pick a couple from the group. Begin with two employees playing themselves. This is vital. A disruptive workplace starts a chain reaction. Make the scenario where the two coworkers are supposed to be working together on a project, but only one is carrying their weight. Allow the two to attempt to resolve the problem themselves. Then, step in. Highlight the good choices and the bad. Then, coach these coworkers through a positive resolution. This involves calm voices, friendly tones, and no finger pointing.

Next, work on the conflict amid supervisors and employees. If the business owner or manager is present you can use them for the exercise, but you may find little volunteers. If that is the case, select one or, once again, use two employees. Create the scenario that the boss is unhappy with the employee constantly showing up for work. Begin with the supervisor. They need to coolly approach their employee and utter their dissatisfaction. Do not blame or accuse. Next, the late arriving worker needs to explain him or herself. In this condition, it is best just to say sorry for the delay and state it will not happen again. Excuses may lead to conflict.

Finally, role-play with a client and an employee. All businesses strive to please their clients, but no one is ever 100% happy. If the company you are working with is a retail store, use the example that a customer was double charged for a product. They arrive in the store the next day. There is little proof that they were overcharged. In this situation, many employees and managers try to get out of refunds. No business desires to lose or handout money, but think of the consequences. A happy customer tells their friends, but an unhappy customer tells anyone who will listen. Think long-term and about the company’s and employee’s repute. Offer a refund or let the customer to grab another of the product.

As previously stated, the best way to apply conflict resolution is with role-playing. Unfortunately, not all business coaches are able to meet with their clients face-to-face. In these cases, create literature for the business owner, supervisors, and workers to read. Make it clear, short, and easy to read.

Despite of how you teach your clients about conflict resolution, always emphasize the important points in the end. These include the consequences of conflict. They are an unhappy client or disruptions in the workplace that can start a chain reaction. Then restate the ways to avoid conflict, such as not placing blame, talking in a friendly tone, and addressing all issues as they arise and not later down the road.

WORKPLACE: Derailing the career train – Resolution Mediation

… poor communication skills; inability to think strategically; unnecessary aggression towards others; poor conflict resolution; inability to adapt or manage changing situations and; an overly narrow outlook or orientation. …

Further Reading

Contemporary Conflict Resolution 2nd edition: The Prevention, Management and Transformation of Deadly Conflicts by Oliver Ramsbotham, Tom Woodhouse, and Hugh Miall

The Eight Essential Steps to Conflict Resolution: Preserving Relationships at Work, at Home and in the Community by Dudley Weeks

The Dynamics of Conflict Resolution: A Practitioner’s Guide by Bernard Mayer

Conflict Resolution: Mediation Tools for Everyday Worklife (Briefcase Books Series) by Daniel Dana

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