Here’s How Workplace Stress Is Everybody’s Fault

March 8, 2016

Here’s How Workplace Stress Is Everybody’s Fault

What would you say is going on in the photo here?  What are the roles of the two people? Are they:
Horizontal view of victim of man and woman in conflict in the workplace

  1. Female supervisor and male employee?
  2. Male supervisor and female employee?
  3. Colleagues?
  4. HR Director and another member of the management team?

The fact is, it could be any of these pairings.  I searched a photo site for “workplace stress” and this is the picture I chose.

Let’s dig a little further. The woman standing is obviously frustrated, perhaps even angry, with the man in the chair. What could the issue be that has them both so obviously stressed?

Communication and clarity

Let’s imagine that he has missed an important deadline, resulting in the stressful encounter depicted here. If she is the supervisor, she is upset that he has failed to meet a deadline and now she will have to face consequences with her boss. His fault. Unless she, as the supervisor, failed to communicate her expectations, including the deadline, clearly. Her fault.

What else could be going on?  Given the same missed deadline scenario, she is now the employee, heatedly defending herself and intruding into his personal space, causing him to back up. Her fault, unless she is heated because he waited until the last minute to share critical information that meant meeting the deadline was impossible, and now her job has been put on the line.  His fault.

If these are colleagues, rather than supervisor/employee, there still seems to be a communication issue. Most likely, whatever caused the missed deadline, the situation has devolved and we see two people locked in conflict and unable to communicate about it effectively.

Lastly, suppose the woman is the HR Director and she is furious with her colleague. Once again, because of his failure to communicate clear expectations, they have lost a qualified employee, but her boss will not let her deal with the big issue: the manager’s incompetence.  She has had enough and has just blown a gasket.

At the heart of all of these scenarios is failure to communicate, specifically the failure to communicate clear expectations. And the result, no matter who was involved, was big, bad stress.

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