Respect at Work

Training programs for mentally safe, fair and respectful workplace cultures



Integrity wins

Posted on 11 June, 2019 at 20:10

Respect needs trust, trust needs respect and personal integrity should be at the forefront.

I've been thinking a lot about complaints lately and I've decided I just don't like them. Don't get me wrong there needs to be a process where issues can be raised and the vulnerable are protected but my concern is about the emotions that get in the way and hijack the process of respectful negotiations and resolutions. Complainants become so consumed with anger, resentment and revenge that they forget what their initial grievance was about, respondents are so aggrieved that someone dared to complain that they forget to listen to the reasons. In my last blog I mentioned that anonymous reporting may help break down a culture of fear but the flip side of that is when the anonymous complaint is made (or escalated) for the wrong reasons.

Life can be tricky and full of lessons learnt, possibly we've all been burnt by someone we've trusted at some stage in life, but, what do you do when 'the burning' happens at work? What happens when what should have been managed by a simple discussion escalates in the workplace? How do you continue respectful relationships once trust and integrity have been damaged? I've been on both sides of workplace complaints, neither is fun, both are exhausting and at times heartbreaking. Damage is done in the process and in my opinion, there are rarely winners in complaints.

When I hear of a conflict (generally workplace based) I almost always wonder what was behind it. Have you ever been in a situation where you feel that you are banging your head against the wall in frustration trying to be heard? Has this frustration affected your perception? Have you ever jumped from 1 to 10 as a response to a single incident because that incident is the last straw? Does the saying 'Don't let the truth get in the way of a good story' resonate?

Workplace relationships are rarely black and white, static, or, always easy. Personal emotions, perspectives and unconscious bias influence our thoughts and actions, and everyone is capable of acting hastily or unwisely at times. Complaints happen, grievances are raised and sometimes fairness needs to be fought for - but surely these processes can be done with more respect.

A good complaint system leaves all parties satisfied that they have been heard and a resolution is reached that meets the satisfaction of all, the complaint is resolved, and life goes on. Rarely is it this simple; emotions are charged, resentment bubbles away, sides are taken, relationships are fractured, friendships lost, trust dissolved, and integrity forgotten. Who wins?

I think the only possible 'winner' is the person who maintains their personal integrity throughout the process. Because without personal integrity, who are we?

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