Those Darn Swear Words and Conflict
Many years back I took on a shipping and container company as a client. The owner had bought up several container companies and put them into one and they hired me to consolidate many different operations throughout the world. I loved doing consolidated financials for international companies, there was always a daily challenge and that is what I love. When I first formed my company in Los Angeles in 1984, I took on projects that no one else wanted to do, that is how I built up my firm. The firm later branched out into taxation, healthcare, real estate. But I loved working with international companies. And today I love mediating business disputes with an international issue. It's great fun.
When I took on this new client, they hired a CFO that loved to swear. The F word was in every single sentence. But with the swear words there were berating of people in front of other people. Now this guy was good at what he did, he knew his financial operations of a shipping company. However, he did not know how to deal with people in a professional way. I know, I got many a berating from him in front of other people. Now, I could have sued the company because of his way of dealing with me. You in Human Resources know that this type of hostile workplace environment creates more conflict in your department. People don't know what to do. Where to turn. Who is with them or against them? Productivity slows down, they are afraid to work so they start calling in sick. The conflict spills over into other departments and then you have a situation that if you do not resolve this conflict the company will start losing money and respect. Bad news travels fast, this is a very small world with big ears.
This CFO created conflict. However, the rest of the staff banded together and created a workplace where they supported each other, got things done together. The CFO, was left behind. He was no longer relevant to their jobs. He was in the corner office by himself.
Politics in offices has also started to create conflict in the workplace. Many months ago, I received a request to do a workplace mediation up in Oakland, CA. There were two employees who believed one political belief, and another employee who believed the other way. The two wanted to have the one employee fired. The manager liked all three employee and wanted to have a workplace mediation to resolve the situation. In this situation, I would ask, what is the company's policy on politics in the workplace? What is the policy on disputes and how to handle disputes? But his is a society now that want to scorn other people for not believing the way they think. Names are called, swear words are tossed out at the other person, and then we have a conflict. I read a recent poll on LinkedIn that someone ran that asked a question if politics should be on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a wonderful place to build business relationships and to learn. The poll came back that said the majority said no to politics on Linked in, I think 10% said it was ok. You see politics is not an ethical venue, it never has been, and when it gets mixed into a business it creates conflicts. I digress from the swearing lecture.
Words create conflict, swearing creates conflict, and if we do not think about the ethics of our words, we will create conflict. We have got to think about our words and how we lead. I have noticed that a lot of people talk about civility until someone disagrees with them. One of the quotes that I like is from Davis, "If you're guided by a spirit of transparency, it forces you to operate with a spirit of ethics. Success comes from simplifying complex issues, address problems head on, be truthful and transparent. If you open yourself up to scrutiny, it forces you to be a higher standard. I believe you should deliver on your promise. Promise responsibly." I like the quote because it should apply to our words, how we form them, how we think about them, and to remain free of conflict by using good words that lead.
Swearing most often times creates a string of words that create conflict. Now I know that Mark Twain said, "Let us swear while we may, for in heaven it will not be allowed." Well, if you know swearing will create conflict, start practicing good words before you get to heaven. Conflicts pay a toll and can be resolved through our own actions and worlds. Just my own thoughts.
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Michael Lodge is a Nationally Certified Professional Mediator specializing in business disputes, as well as family conflicts. He has written three books and hosts an international podcast on IHeartRadio and other podcast media stations.