Author Archives: Ian Demack

Nip it in the bud

In our mediation practice, we have noticed an increase in the number of people who believe they have been bullied. Frequently, allegations of bullying or harassment will be met by a counterclaim of similar behavior. Both parties may genuinely believe that they are victims of each other, regardless of their relative status within the organisation. But maintaining a victim stance is hard work. People who see themselves as victims find it hard to listen to and acknowledge each other’s points of view. And the more they become entrenched in their positions, the harder mediation becomes.

Here is a simple rule of thumb: the earlier the mediation, the greater its chances of success. If a mediation is called as soon as the problems surface, the employees involved are more likely to display some residual goodwill towards each other. If a formal complaint has been lodged, then an investigation is the next logical step. During an investigation people are questioned, witnesses are interviewed, and all those involved tend to harden their positions. This creates further tensions that may impede mediation. If possible, seek assistance from a skilled mediator before the dispute escalates to the point where one party feels the need to lodge a written grievance.

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Am I being bullied?

Sometimes, we can feel uncomfortable with the way other people treat us at work. But are we being bullied? Let’s take a moment to consider the legal definition of workplace bullying. It occurs when an individual or a group of people engages in bullying behavior in the workplace. Their target may be another individual, orContinue Reading

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The high cost of workplace stress

Sustained stress creates an unsustainable workplace. High levels of stress lead to conflict for several reasons: People try to escape from the reality of a stressful workplace by focusing their energies on their enemy—whether that person be a colleague or a manager. When people are snapped at they’ll snap at others. Stressed team members areContinue Reading

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Five causes of workplace conflict

When we find ourselves in conflict it’s easy to focus on our feelings of anger and frustration, rather than trying to identify the causes of the conflict. Sometimes, conflict occurs in the workplace because individual roles and responsibilities have not been clarified. But sometimes the causes of conflict run deep. Let’s look at five differentContinue Reading

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When my colleague is in pain

When introverts experience emotional pain, they often wall themselves off from others. They would rather be left alone, to work through their pain in private. It’s essential to their healing. In the workplace, however, such behaviour can be seen as disengagement or disinterest. People who are in pain may not interact as freely with theirContinue Reading

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The artist and the cynic

Peter Sculthorpe, the Australian composer whose work celebrated Australia’s indigenous culture and evoked the mystery and grandeur of the outback, died earlier this month. He was 85—and began writing music at the age of seven. How did his piano teacher react when she found out? You might think that she would have been excited. AndContinue Reading

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The vexed question of leadership

A recent survey by the Centre for Workplace Leadership, a research institute based at the University of Melbourne, reveals that three out of every four Australian workers are dissatisfied with their managers. They agreed that our workplaces need better management and leadership. Ironically, three out of four workers also believe that they possess the skillsContinue Reading

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Five cognitive distortions: Schumpeterianism

This is the fifth in a series of blog posts looking at five cognitive distortions of high achievers. Today, our topic is Schumpeterianism, better understood as the principal of creative destruction. Popularised by the Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter (1883 – 1950), it states that the old must be destroyed to make way for the new. Of course, this idea itselfContinue Reading

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Five cognitive distortions: blank-canvas thinking

This is the fourth in a series of blog posts looking at five cognitive distortions of high achievers. Today, our topic is blank-canvas thinking. A blank canvas offers us infinite possibilities, with minimal constraints. Blank-canvas thinkers are always searching for ideas without precedents; they’re the first to throw the Style Manual out the window. In many ways, this isContinue Reading

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Five cognitive distortions: correct overgeneralisation

This is the third in a series of blog posts looking at five cognitive distortions of high achievers. Today, we’re looking at correct overgeneralisation. Michael Dearing defines this as making universal judgements from limited observations. In other words, basing critical decisions on scant data. Sounds like something many of us do–but Dearing adds this kicker: and beingContinue Reading

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