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Tania Sourdin, High Conflict Behaviour at Work - How to identify, Respond and Manage it - High Conflict Behaviour at Work - How to identify, Respond and Manage it

Tania Sourdin, High Conflict Behaviour at Work - How to identify, Respond and Manage it - High Conflict Behaviour at Work - How to identify, Respond and Manage it



Professor Tania Sourdin, Professor of Law and Dispute Resolution, Monash University delivered this presentation at the Inaugural Workplace Bullying Conference. This event brings together HR, WHS ...

Professor Tania Sourdin, Professor of Law and Dispute Resolution, Monash University delivered this presentation at the Inaugural Workplace Bullying Conference. This event brings together HR, WHS Managers, Workplace Psychologists and Academics to discuss policy and practices for combatting workplace bullying.

Find out more at http://www.informa.com.au/workplacebullying_13



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    Tania Sourdin, High Conflict Behaviour at Work - How to identify, Respond and Manage it - High Conflict Behaviour at Work - How to identify, Respond and Manage it Tania Sourdin, High Conflict Behaviour at Work - How to identify, Respond and Manage it - High Conflict Behaviour at Work - How to identify, Respond and Manage it Document Transcript

    • 6/12/2013 Managing the challenges of workplace dispute resolution Professor Tania Sourdin Australian Centre for Justice Innovation (ACJI) Monash University High conflict cases  Our Objective – Serious, careful and dignified dispute resolution  Issues – – Expectations and perceptions of clients – Understanding, communication skills and access to information – High Conflict Behaviours. 1
    • 6/12/2013 Significance of Behaviour in Dispute Resolution - Bill Eddy REASONABLE PERSONS: appropriately upset about conflict issues; able to settle and resolve conflicts and engage in Dispute Resolution. MALADAPTIVE PERSONALITY TRAITS: Appear normal, but inappropriately upset, highly exaggerated, distorted logic; MAY resolve conflicts and engage in DR with careful management PERSONALITY DISORDERS: Rigid patterns of behaviour; Chronically distressed; chronic Interpersonal dysfunction; MAY be unable to function in DR What % of disputants exhibit HCB’s? “An enduring pattern of inner experience and behaviour that deviates markedly from the expectations of the individual’s culture, is pervasive and inflexible, has an onset in adolescence or early adulthood, is stable over time, and leads to distress or impairment” (DSM-IV rev manual 1994). Estimated that 14.8% in US population (2002 Study) have Axis I or Axis II problems. Estimated that a further 10% have maladaptive personality traits Some DSM disorders may result in a less chance of a person taking Court action – depression, anxiety. Cluster B personality disorders include borderline, narcissistic, antisocial and histrionic. Those with these disorders or traits may be MORE likely be involved in intense, ongoing conflicts. 2
    • 6/12/2013 Disputants Basic day to day strategies 1.Process guidelines 2.Communication skills – explanation, questions, breaks, issue identification and checking. 3.Summary, reflection and using ‘tags’ How do you introduce self, role, dispute resolution process, restrictions and communication? What do studies show?  Prof Jennifer Lerner (Harvard)  Studies on rats  Studies on people  Preparation helps  Process explanation assists 3
    • 6/12/2013 Basics..  Allow time to express – limit to brief overview – 3 – 4 minutes.  Identify and check issues (neutral and mutual if possible). – Contract Agreement – Delay Timing – Poor workmanship Quality of work. Summary and reflection  Can I just check that I have heard you correctly? I understood you to say that you had entered into the …and then I think you said…and then you talked about…and then you said…did I hear you correctly? 4
    • 6/12/2013 Strategies to use…  Repetitive - I think I heard you talk about ….earlier – so this is clearly important to you?  Upset and anxious – Use an EAR response or try another strategy – for example, short break (with or without private sessions), explanation of process etc.  Should another approach be used? (see work later today). 4 Key Skills for HCBs Bill Eddy 1. CONNECTING with E.A.R. 2. ANALYSING realistic alternatives and outcomes 3. RESPONDING to inaccurate information 4. SETTING LIMITS on high conflict behaviour. 5
    • 6/12/2013 Connect with E.A.R. (Bill Eddy – High Conflict Institute) If frustrated by emotional reactivity and thinking distortions – it is easy to get “emotionally hooked,” and to withhold any positive responses. It’s easy to feel a powerful urge to attack or criticize. Instead, consciously use your E.A.R: • EMPATHY • ATTENTION • RESPECT E.A.R. Statements  Empathy – I can see how important this is to you – I understand this can be frustrating  Attention – I want to understand what you are saying – Tell me what’s going on  Respect – I can see you have put a lot of thought into this – I respect your efforts on this 6
    • 6/12/2013 E.A.R. – words, tone and action • Example: “I can hear that you are frustrated that I can’t answer your question today. I will pay attention to your concerns about this issue and any information that you want to provide. I respect that it is hard to come to mediation and know that you are committed to solving this problem, and I look forward to helping you. Once I have more information I will be able to do more.” Some cautions about E.A.R.  Avoid believing or agreeing with content.  Avoid volunteering to “fix it” for them (in an effort to calm down their emotions).  Avoid rejecting them or having an angry confrontations with them because of their heightened emotions.  You don’t have to listen forever.  If doesn’t work, focus on tasks (See this afternoon). 7
    • 6/12/2013 Showing your E.A.R. Empathise; don’t argue with their logic – try to understand it. You won’t talk them out of their fears, but you can empathise with their fears. Pay attention: Reduce their fears in the process, by reassuring that you are not going to make assumptions or quick decisions; pay attention to their concerns. Be respectful: Put more energy into clarifications, to make sure you understand how they are thinking, and what they heard you say. The style of engagement? 8
    • 6/12/2013 The elephant in the room... Shapiro - core concerns Autonomy Appreciation Status Affiliation Role 9
    • 6/12/2013 Appreciation  Not understood, devalued, unheard  Studies of newlywed couples  Replicated in organisational studies Predicting divorce  Analysed records of marital conflict discussions.  Predict marital outcomes over a 6 year period using just the first 3 minutes of marital conflict discussions.  For husbands this prediction improved as the groups diverged in the remaining 12 minutes.  For wives the prediction remained equally powerful for the remaining 12 minutes as it had been in the first 3 minutes 1999 Carrère S; Gottman J M Predicting divorce among newlyweds from the first three minutes of a marital conflict discussion 38(3) Family process 293-301 10
    • 6/12/2013 Autonomy buckets Unilateral decision Inform Consult Negotiate Autonomy - ACBD Always Consult Before Deciding 11
    • 6/12/2013 Perceptions Ladder of Inference Senge, P. et. al. (1994) The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook: Strategies and Tools for Building a Learning Organization 12
    • 6/12/2013 Ladder of Inference - Example I refuse to listen and want to make my point They will try to trick me I cannot trust the mediator Government employees are not trustworthy The mediator is employed by the government I am required to argue in the session High Conflict Behaviours 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Rigid, repeat failed strategies Unable to accept or heal from a loss Negative emotions dominate thinking Unable to reflect on own behaviour Difficulty empathising with others Preoccupied with blaming others Avoid responsibility for the problem or the solution 13
    • 6/12/2013 Flipping your lid… Inside your brain 14
    • 6/12/2013 9 Functions of the Mid Pre-Frontal Cortex Siegel  Bodily regulation  Insight  Emotional balance  Fear Modulation  Attuned Communication  Intuition  Moral Awareness  Response Flexibility  Empathy The role of hormones 15
    • 6/12/2013 Cycle of high conflict thinking 3. NEGATIVE FEEDBACK 1. MISTAKEN ASSESSMENT OF DANGER 2. BEHAVIOUR that’s AGGRESSIVELY DEFENSIVE Three Step Cycle 1. Mistaken Assessment of Danger Person with High Conflict behaviours feels internal distress, but it feels like external danger (Being Abandoned, Treated Inferior, Ignored, Dominated, etc.) 2. Behaviour that’s Aggressively Defensive HCB verbally, physically, legally, financially, etc. attacks the perceived source of danger 3. Negative Feedback HCB gets negative feedback (most feedback feels negative to people with HCBs), which escalates them 16
    • 6/12/2013 The Issue is Not the Issue  In high-conflict cases, the issue is not the issue. The high-conflict thinking is the issue, with distorted perceptions and expectations.  For many people with high-conflict behaviours, they are stuck with their their negative emotions and can’t easily access their problem-solving skills.  To handle them, you need to learn to communicate with the rational part of the brain. Talking to the Rational Slow Brain  Tone of voice and body language is amazingly important: Calm, confident, firm  Avoid personal attacks: these escalate defensiveness and bad behaviour  Avoid threats: these escalate the HCBs  Avoid logical arguments in times of stress  Avoid giving Negative Feedback. 17
    • 6/12/2013 Increasing Defensiveness and Impulsivity in Younger people  Employers are complaining about young employees who can’t take ordinary performance feedback – they react angrily and take everything very personally.  Marshmallow and cookie studies: 4 yr. olds offered 1 now or 2 if they waited a little. 14 years later, those who grabbed 1: more irritated, more fights, less able handle stress and 210 pts. lower on SATs. Daniel Goleman Working With Emotional Intelligence (1998) CAUSES 1. Biological factors, such as genetic tendencies and temperament at birth. 2. Early childhood factors, such as early parenting “attachment” disruptions, child abuse or other trauma before age 5. 3. Social learning, such as “invalidating environments”: being ignored for positive behaviours and getting more attention for mood swings and extreme emotions; family and community tolerance of bad behaviour; role models with extreme personalities. 4. Cultural changes, like increasing narcissism, drama, mood swings and violence in popular culture. 18
    • 6/12/2013 High Conflict Behaviours Two key issues: #1: Some lack an ability to be self-aware and can’t reflect on their own behaviour. #2: Some lack an ability to adapt their behaviour to changing circumstances. They repeat mistakes. High Conflict Behaviour Types  “Love you, Hate you” Behaviours Often Angry, Sudden Mood Swings  “I’m Very Superior” Behaviours Demanding and Demeaning  “Always Dramatic” Behaviours Superficial, Helpless, Exaggerates  “Con Artists” Behaviours Deceptive, Manipulative, Hurtful  “I’ll Never Trust you” Behaviours Fearful, Resentful, Suspicious Bill Eddy “It’s All YOUR Fault!” (2008) 19
    • 6/12/2013 Setting Limits on High Conflict Behaviour Those with HCBs need limits because they can’t stop themselves With HCB clients, focus on external reasons for new behaviour, usually a policy, guideline or by reference to the applicable law: “Our policies require me to …” “The law requires…” “The process that is set out in the legislation means I have to…” Setting Limits (con’t) Educate About Consequences  People with HCBs do not connect realistic CONSEQUENCES to their own ACTIONS, especially fear-based actions.  They feel like they are in a fight for survival, which blinds them to realities.  Their life experiences may have taught them different consequences than most.  They can be educated by a caring person. 20
    • 6/12/2013 Setting Limits (cont’d) Set Personal Limits      About when the session will occur About how long the session will go for About what you will discuss About who will be present About phone & email access to you and your staff  About what they need to bring  About what they need to do before Setting Limits (cont’d) Set Organisational Limits  What authority is there in your organisation that can set limits beyond those than you can set alone?  What policies and procedures exist? 21
    • 6/12/2013 Finishing processes with HCBs  Lay the groundwork for termination of process from the start, with clear expectations & limits.  Avoid impulsive terminations or session conclusions – an abrupt end can trigger a memory of all of the client’s bad endings & lead to potentially uncontrollable emotions and bad behaviour (stalking, more litigation, etc.)  Suggest that your views are incompatible  Show empathy, attention and respect, even while concluding the process. Applying HCB Skills  Work hard at appearing neutral  Have people make as many process decisions as is possible  Ask “What do you think about that proposal?” rather than “How do you feel about that?” so don’t open up emotions.  Prepare for breach of agreements  Avoid pressing them for agreement; hold back and keep burden on them. Yes, no, maybe (proposals). 22
    • 6/12/2013 NEGATIVE ADVOCATES  Wanting to help is often driving force – – – – – – Believe distortions of upset client with HCB Misled by HCB’s charm, hurt, fear, anger Advocate against perceived enemies Protect them from natural consequences Escalate conflict inadvertently May also have high conflict personality Closing Points about HCBs  Some people in dispute have long-term personality problems  Behaviour can be mostly unconscious  Some want relief from their constant distress  Some people push boundaries out of desperation, not out of intent to be difficult  Direct confrontation brings resistance and escalation of blame, not insight for some people  Most people have problem-solving skills, which you can support 23