Reasonable Workplace Conflict Resolution is Not Bullying

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Reasonable Workplace Conflict Resolution is Not Bullying

If you are an ethical leader then, conflict resolution and emotional awareness training would be the way to stop workplace bullying before it happens without the need for policy and procedures. But the influence of other individuals, organisational culture and social acceptance make this a very difficult task in most organisations. Reasonable workplace conflict is a natural human, cultural and social process to encourage creativity and problem solving within organisations. Conflict does not become bullying until the conflict degrades to unreasonable behaviour posing a risk to health and safety.

The management solution is a system of legal regulation and organisational policies to protect individuals before any unreasonable behaviour escalates to causing physical or psychological injury. Bullying harm occurs when unreasonable behaviour posing a risk to health and safety is repeated persistently over time. Our legal systems stop unreasonable behaviour posing a risk to health and safety which is repeated persistently over time. Our organisational risk management policies should stop unreasonable behaviour posing a risk to health and safety which is  repeated persistently over time. Ethical culture through conflict management and emotional awareness encourages reasonable behaviour which does not pose a risk to health and safety all the time. All these layers of protection are designed as a safety net where incidents which posing a risk to health and safety falling through the cracks, are caught before bullying injury takes place.

Conflict is a natural human process to resolve issues where parties have differing opinions on the right way to achieve an objective. Conflict will occur in the form of argument where parties are in disagreement. The resolution should be the only objective of conflict without using avoidance or domination techniques. Resolution can only be achieved through reasonable discussion. Through this process we can share ideas which were either not considered or ruled out by external considerations. Conflict can reveal creative possibilities that can be shared between many minds to solve problems. This conflict is good for organisations to consider issues which may catastrophically affect the success of organisational projects and overcome group think where ideas are silenced. The degradation of conflict into unreasonable behaviour that poses a risk to health and safety is unproductive to the process and can create a culture of silence to stifle any creativity. Repeated persistently over time this can cause bullying injury. The solution to any escalation of conflict is the application of de-escalation processes to defuse situations before they degrade to an unreasonable level. This applies equally to operational issues and employment issues arising out of performance management.

Anti-bullying policy is not the only consideration when stopping bullying. Conflict resolution, grievance handling, career development, performance management and employment contracts all play a part in the whole process. Legal regulation, Bullying management policy and Antibullying policy can’t stop workplace bullying alone. The best resolution is an integrated solution of safety nets involving psychologists, legal, health and Safety, and Leadership commitment to prevent uncontrolled workplace bullying injury, costs and stifled creativity from occurring within organisations. Don’t underestimate the value of management caring and commitment as the first step to stopping workplace bullying through the creation of an ethical culture.

Kevin Gilmore-Burrell LLB MBA

© Empathyse ™ Anti-bullying Consulting 2019