Tag Archives: Problems At Job

Article “Understanding Conflict Dynamics” By J. Kim Wright

This is an interesting article about conflict resolution by J. Kim Wright, posted on the American Bar Association website.

The article is geared toward lawyers.  But its advice applies well for anyone involved in any type of conflict, including those of you involved in employment disputes.

The article describes five conflict-handling- personality traits: (1) the conflict avoider; (2) the accommodating style; (3) the competing style; (4) the compromising style; and (5) the collaborating style.

Each trait is discussed, as well as its pros and cons, and good and bad situations where each trait should be considered.

One described trait jumped out at me: the competing style, a type of communication I constantly see MISUSED in the employment context.  As the article puts it:

The competing style is assertive and uncooperative—a competing individual pursues his or her own concerns at the other person’s expense. This is a power-oriented mode, in which one uses whatever power seems appropriate to win one’s own position: one’s ability to argue, one’s rank, economic sanctions. Competing might mean “standing up for your rights,” defending a position that you believe is correct, or simply trying to win.

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Filed under Employee Info/Tips - Pre-Litigation - Problems At Job, Employee Tip - Problems at Job, Employment Law Resources, Philosophy - Employee Rights, Resources for WI Workers

The Super, Scary, Ultra Discretion of the Axman


Say you’re a corporate employee.  You came down with a nasty virus.  Your sister and her kids passed it on to you; they later apologize for having visited when they were sick.  You get a 102 degree fever, fatigue. Doctor says you’ll wind up in bed for a week, gives you a doctor’s note.  You hadn’t missed a day of work in years before this.  So you call in sick to work, only to hear the HR rep be snide with you, question whether you’re really sick, and badger you before finally granting you the time off.  This upsets you.  So you can’t help but give her your two cents about her and the company before hanging up.

Say you’re an HR employee.  An hourly worker calls in with a “virus.”  Just happens to be a Friday.  Also happens to be the same worker Manager Jones reported as ”insubordinate” a few weeks ago, in relation to a customer complaint.  This worker has found a doctor willing to give him a note for a full week off for a flu virus.  What kind of virus lasts a full week– doesn’t the typical flu last 72 hours at most??  Worst case, his flu should be over, and he should be back to work, early next week as opposed to Friday.  That department is already short workers.  Now, you’ve got to find someone to cover, on short notice.  But you’ll have to do it.  God forbid HR question the medical necessity of this 1-week flu vacation; if so, you’d have to answer to some lawyer the employee hires, and after that have corporate chew you out.

What stinks about this scenario (besides all of it)?

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Filed under Philosophy - Employee Rights

Are You In “Survival Mode?”

An employee (client) remarked to me that when she worked for her former employer- which had a difficult manager and stressful environment- workers there lived in “survival mode.”

This phrase rang true to me.   I talk to many employees in bad work situations, who are painfully aware they are miserable, and dread going to work each day.  Their goals are immediate: to avoid the boss’s wrath, to survive the next tirade, to survive the day.  Such employees usually hold onto some sort of abstract hope that things will improve, but when the day-to-day details play out, there are no tangible steps toward improvement and no positive changes are underway.  Each day is just patching a different hole in the dam.

So what keeps employees at these environments?  Often, it is money.  Or, the lack of better opportunities.

But most often, it is the employees’ perception they can’t make decent money elsewhere, or find better opportunities and work conditions elsewhere, that keeps them locked in place, stuck in “survival mode.”  Too often, when I ask a troubled employee “have you looked for a different job?” the answer is something like “I won’t be able to find another job that pays this much,” or “No one will hire someone like me.”

Many employees come to believe (whether consciously or subconsciously) that the way everything is, is the way it HAS to be.  It doesn’t.

Employees really can control our own destinies.  We can proactively: (1) identify what our dream job’s characteristics are; (2) identify how we can get to, or make, those characteristics a reality; and (3) make it happen.

Or… we can choose to peruse job ads, find a job, discover that job provides a hellish existence, and believe ourselves to be stuck there, living our work life in “survival mode.”

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Employee Tip: Things to Consider When Your Employer/Boss Starts to Treat You Badly

If your employer/boss is treating you unfairly, you should consider doing the following:

(1) DOCUMENT what is going on. Keep a journal with names & dates & descriptions of what occurred. Save copies of important documents and witness statements. If you make complaints, make them in writing/email and save a copy (expect that management or HR will later “not recall” the spoken complaints you made).

(2) COMMUNICATE SMARTLY. Before communicating, consider the potential risk of retaliation versus the potential benefit of communicating about your problem. Communicate politely to a reasonable person who could make a difference. Do not gossip. Do not march up to your harassing boss and lecture him or her about your rightness.

(3) PROACTIVELY ARRANGE FOR “PLAN B.” Apply for new jobs or otherwise make arrangements to cushion any blows that you can see coming.

(4) DON’T “RESIGN” OR SIGN ANYTHING IF PRESSURED TO DO SO. If your employer tries to force you to resign, you should strongly consider NOT doing so. If you resign your job, that may eliminate your chances to receive unemployment benefits, and may hurt your ability to bring several legal claims. If the employer pressures you to sign a resignation notice (especially one that includes a statement “admitting” severe misconduct), this is often NOT in your interest, and the employer will often fire you anyway, despite their claims to the contrary. If you are asked to resign and presented with a severance agreement, the terms of that severance may or may not be worth signing. But the employer should allow you some time to review the severance agreement (or to review any document for that matter) before asking you to sign it.

I get several phone calls a day from fired employees who didn’t do the things above. And I can’t blame them- these tips require anticipating bad behavior from others, which is something that good people do not like to do. However, when you are being treated unfairly, it is important you assess and address the situation proactively. Taking the ounce-of-prevention approaches above can reduce the risks of harms and help prepare for a legal claim in case it ever comes to that.

Please note this post does not provide legal advice- if you want legal advice, you should contact an attorney and discuss your specific circumstances. If you are interested in legal assistance from attorney-author Michael Brown or his law firm DVG Law Partner for your matter, please contact them here:



Filed under Employee Tip - Problems at Job