A Tail of Conflict

On March 2, 2019 I had the fortunate experience of being interviewed by Dominec Certa of the Self Achievement Network https://www.facebook.com/groups/selfachievement/.  Dominec interviews an eclectic mix of people who are passionate about what they do.  Be sure to visit – there are some interesting people with great ideas.

Like many consultants, my office is in my home.  My husband and I downsized a few years ago and moved into a 2-bedroom condo – so guess where my office is!   The second bedroom is our guest bedroom, the cat’s room to escape the dog, our craft room and my office.  My “employees” are a lovely kitty named Patches and Bella, a sweet, but vocal boxer-cross we adopted.

I thought I had set myself up for a successful interview.  My biggest concern was how to position my phone so that the multi-purpose nature of the room wouldn’t be too apparent!  I didn’t think enough about my staff and how they might impact this interview.

March 2 fell in the middle of a very cold spell in our part of the world.  We were all feeling quite housebound – especially Bella.  Normally, when I have a business call, my kind husband takes Bella for a long walk.  That didn’t work out very well on that day.  It was just too cold for man and beast to stay out more than 15 minutes.

The interview was going well until Patches decided he wanted my attention and more importantly his bowl of food that was on the desk out of Bella’s reach.  Bella is not very respectful of her co-worker’s possessions and is apt to steal lunches.  Do you have someone like that at your workplace?  I had to interrupt my interview to give Patches his lunch!

Then Bella came bursting into the room and started harassing the cat.  Now I should have taken better precautions.  For example, I could have closed the door so that they were separated.  However, like many employers, I didn’t and paid the price.  First Bella decided she wanted Patches’ food too and an argument ensued.  I tried to casually  separate them – remember I was in the middle of a live interview.  Patches long used to being bullied by Bella just gave up his food and left the room.  So much for employee engagement. 

Bella then noticed another dog outside our building and decided to tell him to stay away with a volley of loud barking and threatening growling.  A clear violation of my Workplace Violence and Harassment Policy.  I took immediate action by putting Bella out of the room and closing the door – but imagine doing that in the middle of a live interview!

I’m writing this because hindsight is 20-20 vision. I could have used my pets’ behaviour during my interview to highlight how disruptive workplace harassment and violence is to productivity and customer service. Instead I behaved like many employers do – I was simply horrified and embarrassed.

Bella is normally an ideal co-worker. She is currently keeping me from feeling isolated by sleeping peaceably on the couch in my office. However, due to the cold weather, she did not have enough exercise and was hyper. Think of how your staff behave when there are unusual stressors at your workplace. Some staff just dig in, but others display inappropriate behaviour.

This experience underscored for me how important it is to deal with conflict between employees before it rises to a level that affects your business.    Conflict not managed can escalate very quickly to violence and harassment – and often in front of your customers.

I have lots of solutions that can help reduce the conflict in your business and ensure your staff are working in an environment of mutual respect and dignity.  Contact me to discuss how I can help.

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Call Coact at 905-581-2701, email karen@coactworks.com or visit our website: http://www.coactworks.com