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Making Things Right at Work

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman
The Truth Network Radio
March 19, 2022 1:00 am

Making Things Right at Work

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman

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March 19, 2022 1:00 am

Conflict in the workplace is inevitable. And when it comes, the stress is overwhelming. How do you make things right at work? Today on Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, Dr. Paul White will give practical steps to help restore harmony to your workplace.

Featured resource: Making Things Right At Work: Increase Teamwork, Resolve, Conflict, and Build Trust by Dr. Paul White, Jennifer Thomas and Gary Chapman.

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Well, what do you do with the conflict you have at work?

Sometimes people think of conflict as this big battle with, you know, lots of emotionality, but sometimes it's just this tension that we want to do things our way or we see it our way and somebody else doesn't and we don't know how to get around that. Welcome to Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times bestseller, "The 5 Love Languages" . Well, no matter how much you love your job or how great everyone gets along, at some point a conflict will occur. Today, Dr. Paul White will help you make things right at work. That's the title of our featured resource today, the book by Dr. White and Dr. Chapman and Dr. Jennifer Thomas, Making Things Right at Work, Increase Teamwork, Resolve Conflict and Build Trust.

Find out more about that and more simple ways to strengthen your relationships at Gary, you recently retired from the church where you've been on staff for 50 years. It's easy to say and hard to do, to do something for 50 years. My guess is in those five decades, you have seen a little bit of conflict at your work, meaning at the church. Is that true?

Tell me about it. Oh, no, Chris. No, no, no. Our church is a Baptist church. We don't have conflicts and problems.

No, no, no. Listen, Chris, I don't care what denomination a church is. People are in the church, you know, and people have conflicts. So I wonder what the Christian church would be like if we had not had conflicts and not handled them well. It's not the conflict.

It's not handling them well. A lot of new churches get started because somebody didn't like the church where they were. And so they just, a group of them pulled out and started another church. And then later on, they started another church.

That's why you have First Baptist, Second Baptist, and Third Baptist. Well, anyway, I am excited about this topic because it doesn't matter whether it's a church organization or whether it's any kind of business. People are going to have conflicts. Things are going to happen. Feelings are going to get hurt. And so I'm excited about our interview today with Dr. White about this topic.

I am too. And you talk about church, you know, you look at the Bible, it's one of the things I love about the Bible is that it's unvarnished. The struggle in the early church that was there gave opportunity for people. And I think maybe as you listen today and you filter what we're going to talk about through your own work conflict, allow that to kind of seep in that this might be something good that happens if you can handle it well. So let me reintroduce Dr. Paul White. He is a psychologist, author, speaker, and consultant who makes work relationships work. For the past 20 years, he's improved numerous businesses, schools, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations, and helped create positive workplaces. He's written The Vibrant Workplace, The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, and others. But our featured resource today is Making Things Right at Work. This is going to help you, I guarantee you.

You can find out more about it at Well, Dr. White, it's great to have you back on Building Relationships. Well, thank you, Gary. I'm glad to be back and appreciate the opportunity. You know, I enjoyed working with you and Dr. Thomas on this book, and I'm going to be honest with our audience. Dr. White and Dr. Thomas, they deserve the credit for this book, okay? I was kind of along for the ride on this one, but I just really enjoyed working with them, both of you, on this book. Now, in your speaking and writing and working with business leaders for yay many years now, I know that you have faced this whole issue of conflict at work on a lot of different levels, right?

Sure, Gary. You know, for those of us who have had jobs for any length of time, we've either seen or experienced tension and conflict at work. And that can be, you know, between an employee and supervisor, between two colleagues, maybe frontline, you know, employees and quote unquote management, or even, you know, employees with customers.

And so it's just part of work. Well, you know, over the past two years, of course, work as we've known it has changed pretty radically in some places. Talk about these changes and how they're impacting workplace relationships. The most obvious one is the changes with remote workers, working from home, hybrid, that, you know, have really changed the modes of communication as far as like over the internet and so forth. And also the amount of communication, I think it's decreased. That's made it more difficult to communicate clearly with one another and understand, you know, what's going on. And it's also, that whole aspect has really altered people's expectations about what work is, what it should look like. You know, when you're working from home, is it okay to have your pet with you?

Whereas in a lot of offices, that wouldn't be okay. But I think even more important than those sort of structural changes is just the amount of stress and tension and anxiety in the background in our lives, which then make us sort of more vulnerable, I think, to have conflict, because we're dealing with just this emotionality in our lives that make us sort of edgy, irritable, and react more quickly than we normally would. When you're working at home and there is a conflict situation, would we be more likely not to deal with it because we're not physically, you know, seeing them every day? Or what do you think?

I think so. I mean, most people, there are a few strange ones out there that don't mind conflict too much, but most people don't seek it and like it. And so if they can avoid it, they will. And not seeing somebody not having to deal with them face to face makes it easier to avoid it. And so I think a lot of things, and maybe sometimes in a good way, sort of are left undealt with so that, you know, we're not having conflicts over stupid little things that we don't need to and let them flow. But on the other hand, when you have a more serious issue you need to deal with, I think people try to avoid it and, you know, just let it lie. And then we have to wait for either the situation to come up again, or for somebody to have the courage to bring up the topic and address it.

Yeah, yeah. What's the goal of relationships in the workplace? What would be the ideal? Well, you know, I think, and I talk about this when I talk to people about appreciation in the workplace, that while we want people to feel good and happy and valued, that's not really even the goal of appreciation, but I think the goal of relationships is to accomplish the mission of the organization. I mean, that we're working together as a team to serve our clients or customers or whomever we serve or to produce products or processes. So it's the relationship aspect is bringing together different people, different resources to help meet the needs for which the organization exists. So in doing that, in any business, you're going to have many different personality types, many age groups who are working together. Is it even possible to experience no conflicts in a work situation?

Well, I'm going to say tongue in cheek, yes and no. I mean, yes, in the sense, there's some people that are really good at avoiding conflict. And for them, they may sort of go through actively engaging in conflict. But, you know, reality is where people, we do have flaws and weaknesses, but it doesn't always stem from that. I mean, it does stem from different personality types, different perspectives, values, communication styles. And so I think conflict, and maybe even use the word tension sometimes, because it's not necessarily, sometimes people think of conflict as this big battle with lots of emotionality, but sometimes it's just this tension that we want to do things our way or we see it our way and somebody else doesn't, and we don't know how to get around that.

Yeah. I've sometimes said in the marriage context that a husband and wife will have conflicts for one simple reason. They're human. And humans don't think the same way about everything, you know, humans don't have the same feelings.

And so obviously, we're going to have some level of conflict. This is Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times bestseller, "The 5 Love Languages" . Find out more about our featured resource and our guest today by going to

Tell someone else about the program. They can hear the conversation there and take an assessment of their love language. Just go to The resource we have is the book by Dr. Chapman and our guest, Dr. Paul White, along with Dr. Jennifer Thomas, titled Making Things Right at Work, Increase Teamwork, Resolve Conflict and Build Trust.

You can find out more about it at the website, Dr. White, let's talk about some of the common conflicts that people have in the workplace. Well, Gary, just like in marriage and families, probably the most common source of conflict is miscommunication and misunderstanding between people. Because, you know, if we're working together with other people, as teammates to try to accomplish something, we have to talk about what the goal is, how we're going to get there, what the cost is, you know, sort of a task list. And all of that takes communication. And it just multiplies the probability of misunderstanding and miscommunicating, especially when there's multiple people involved versus just one on one, as well as, you know, a complex situation. So clearly miscommunication, misunderstanding is probably the number one. I would say the second one is that aspect of having different perspectives and different backgrounds and different values about how a task should be done, what's most important, you know, do we need to get it done quickly or do we need to get it done exactly perfectly or is 80% okay?

And so you have that. And then there's also the issue of different expectations. I mean, you have, maybe you pull off an event, a sales event or a marketing event, and some people are going to have expectations the way it should look and how it should go and others will have differing ones and they may not be happy while somebody else feels really pretty good about it.

So I think those are three sort of key themes for where conflict comes in the workplace. Yeah, I was just thinking about my own relationship with my administrative assistant, for example. You know, sometimes I would say to her, I really want to get this done as soon as possible. And it's halfway through the day and she hadn't worked on it. And we had a different idea about what as soon as possible meant. I was thinking within the next hour, I'd like for you to work on this. You know, she was thinking today, you know, today. It's just simple things like that, right?

It doesn't have to be anything huge. Yeah, and sort of what is good enough and or even, you know, when you're putting together maybe marketing materials or decorating for an event, you know, what looks good is very different to different people. And you can have some conflict intention about that or disappointment as well.

Yeah. Well, from your research, how are people most often offended in the workplace? Well, this was one of the sort of secondary benefits of using the five languages of appreciating the workplace that we found along the way that the ways that people prefer to be valued and shown appreciation are also the ways that they are most easily offended. So it's sort of thinking about, you know, your sort of primary mode of communication.

If it's, you know, a radio and you get it from that, you get both positive and negative information or the TV or newspaper or whatever. And the same thing, if your language of appreciation is words, then you tend to be a little bit more sensitive to constructive criticism from others and it doesn't take as many words to impress you. And so you can actually be offended if somebody sort of comes at you a little harder or quality time where you really value getting together with others.

And if you're left out or not invited, that's an opportunity for offense and so forth. So it's been interesting to observe that finding out a person's primary language of appreciation also gives them some clues about when and why they might feel offended in different interactions. Yeah. Well, you bring up the languages of appreciation in the workplace. Let's talk about that a bit because this, of course, as we know, was a spinoff from "The 5 Love Languages" in a marriage. And it's really taken the love languages to work, but we're calling them appreciation languages because work relationships are different from family and marriage relationships. But talk about the five and let's just get those on the front burner.

Yeah. And I think overall, one important thing that we've learned is that in the workplace, knowing a person's language of appreciation often isn't sufficient to really communicate appreciation or encouragement well, that there are specific actions within the language that are important. I think in personal relationships, that's true as well, but it's a little easier to find out what those actions are. Whereas asking a coworker, you know, if I want to show you appreciation, how should I do it?

That's sort of a weird question in our culture. So trying to do that, or maybe watch them and see what they do or whatever, there's not that many data points. But what we found is that for each language, different actions really are important and make a difference of how impactful is the person. So for example, words, you know, obviously you can say something to somebody personally, or you can write a note, but in the workplace, a lot of people don't want to be praised publicly. So in front of a large group, I mean, we've shown and found that about 40% of employees don't want to go up in front of a large group to be recognized or appreciated. It's really a negative for them. And even for some people among their team members, like in a team meeting or on a conference call to be praised for, hey, Jennifer, way to handle that difficult client and you really manage that well, even for some people, you know, that kind of public affirmation is not what they want.

So getting the action is right. So you have words, time is an interesting one that we've found over time, just published some research on looking at the age differences of appreciation in the workplace. And for some people and, you know, Gary, you and I are a little bit older and are in a different generation. We're not millennials and for us and our colleagues, time with their manager or supervisor was really important that you felt valued when you got individual time to either ask questions or to be able to give some input. But for younger workers, that's not the case. Most of the time, they really value time with their peers and their colleagues.

And so, in fact, we found that the younger an employee was, the more likely they were to choose quality time as their language of appreciation up to 37% for those under 30. So, again, the action is important as well as the language. Acts of service, you know, is an interesting one because it's about one of out of every five employees have acts of service as their primary language. And I had a CEO told me, so my language is get her done. You know, don't tell me stuff, don't give me stuff, just help me get things done. But a key part about acts of service is you need to ask before you do it. Don't assume that, you know, what you see needs to be done is what needs to be done. And you need to do it their way. Because sometimes, you know, somebody is doing a task, whether it's collating reports and stapling it and filing and all that, and they're doing it in a different order than we would. In this situation, if you want to be a help and encouragement, you want to do it their way versus say, well, let me show you a better way to do it. That's not really that encouraging typically. So, you want to do it their way. And an interesting part about acts of service in the workplace is culturally, we sort of have this response that if somebody asks if they can help, most people's first response is no, I'm good.

That's okay. And so, you sort of have to push through that a little bit, especially if you're in the upper Midwest or in the Midwest where we're, you know, sort of want to be independent and self-sufficient, but doing it their way. And for people who have acts of service as their primary language of appreciation, that words actually could not only be neutral, but they can be negative. Because if you just praise them and never help out when they're trying to push on a project to finish it, it becomes a negative to them. They say, yeah, you know, words are cheap. You have tangible gifts is the fourth language that is in this situation. It's not bonuses. It's not raises.

It's not anything big like that. It's really just small things that show that you're getting to know the other person. And I think that's another sort of important difference here that appreciation, as we talk about it, authentic appreciation is about the person.

Whereas a lot of people are familiar with employee recognition programs. Those are largely about performance. You reach goals. You, you know, have certain performance metrics that you meet and that's fine.

That's good. And we want those, but, you know, we're more than work units. We're not just sort of there to produce things, but we're people too. And so gifts really can bring that out. Interestingly gifts is a very low frequency of people choosing as their primary language.

And it's only about 6%. And but gifts along with another language can be quite meaningful, but the key for gifts in the workplace is it has to be personal. It has to be about them versus if you give everybody the same thing at Christmas or whatever, it really doesn't mean that much.

And it really is. It's the thought that counts. So it could be something as simple as, you know, bringing in their favorite cup of coffee in the morning, or when you order pizza or bring in donuts for the team, you make sure you get the kind that different team members like, like I have a team member that's, you know, gluten intolerant. So we always get pizza that, you know, is gluten free, or it could be about their hobby, you know, find out they're learning how to sail or they're going to plant a spring garden. And so you get them a magazine that's related to that. So it's not a lot of money.

Typically it can even be free. I mean, it can be, you found a video on YouTube or a website that's about what they like and you send them the link to that. So gifts can be very powerful when they're used correctly, but by themselves, people say, if I never hear anything, if nobody ever stops by to see how I'm doing or help me out, a gift feels pretty superficial. And then the last one that we always have fun with is physical touch. I always tell, okay, we're going to finish with a group hug, but you know, physical touches, you know, we, we talked about it and we're going to include it in the model for the workplace.

And, you know, you, you were farm and I agreed with that. We don't want to create a touchless society, even in the workplace that appropriate physical touch can be deeply meaningful in the right relationship in the right way, you know, and clearly with children, with in health settings, in long-term care settings, we know that's true, but most of the time, and this is another reason we included is it happens. I mean, and it's largely spontaneous celebration, right? It's a high five when you finish a project or a fist bump when you solve a problem.

And so it's there, it's less than 1% of the population choose that as their primary language. But for a lot of people, especially our friends and colleagues that are Hispanic or from Southern European cultures, Italian and Spanish and Portuguese Greek, you know, they're more physical in their expression. And so to not touch one another feels very cold and mechanical to them. So it's always the recipient gets to choose whether or not they want to have appreciation shown that way, but it happens and, you know, it's different regionally in the South, you give side hugs a lot in the Northeast, people sort of just nod across the room and say, hey, and that's sort of physical touch for them. So, you know, I think it's worked well. I think we've learned along the way and have been able to help people communicate authentic appreciation in the ways that others really desire.

Yeah. I think that concept as it has helped so many couples in marriage, you know, to understand that what makes you feel loved doesn't necessarily make your spouse feel loved. The same concept is true in the work relationships that you may be doing something or saying something to them. And in your mind, you're expressing appreciation.

In their mind, they don't get it because that's not their primary appreciation language. So it's been very encouraging to see how many businesses have picked up on that particular book that you and I wrote together and are using it, you know, and consequently creating a more positive emotional climate in the workplace. And the interesting part along with that, with the remote and work and working from home is we know that connectedness at a personal level is really important for people to stay at their workplace. That one research study showed that 79% of the people who leave their place of employment cite a lack of appreciation as one of the main reasons they're leaving. And even more so recently, there was an article out of Bloomberg Business that found that in this sort of great resignation time that people are not leaving for more pay. They're leaving because of the culture and toxic work culture where people really don't seem to care and aren't connected.

And so we're helping organizations use the languages of appreciation to create a sense of connectedness because people are connected to other people more than they're connected to an organization or even a mission. Paul, I want to jump in here and ask you a question of something I experienced a long time ago in the very first place where I ever worked. And it was office romances and what happens when somebody in this department starts to date somebody in that department or everybody's together and the conflict that can come from that romance. Do you deal with that at all in your study?

No, I let Gary deal with it. You know, more and more organizations, I think it's actually more the case than not, have rules internally about those kinds of relationships because it does create really a dual relationship. You might have somebody who reports to another person in the organization and if they become romantically involved, that obviously interferes with sort of the objective aspect of business kinds of decisions. And so most workplaces these days really limit any kind of external relationship with people that you work with.

The challenge with that then is you have family-owned businesses, right? And those that I worked with for a long time where you have multiple relationships because they're father and son or siblings or mother and son-in-law and you know, you have the same dynamics, but it's not romantic, but it still has that dual relationship aspect. This is Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman. You can find out more simple ways to strengthen your relationships by going to You'll find some great resources there, seminars by Dr. Chapman. You can hear a podcast of the program and find out about our featured resource. It's titled Making Things Right at Work, Increase Teamwork, Resolve Conflict, and Build Trust.

Just go to Dr. White, we're talking to leaders and managers and owners among other people today. What are some of the tools that a leader can use that might reduce the amount of conflict in the workplace? Well, Gary, if we think about the most common sources of conflict and one of those being miscommunication, obviously the tools that help us communicate clearly with one another are a great foundational starting point. And you know, that involves active listening, which is essentially the process of checking to make sure you've heard and understood correctly what's going on with another person. And then sort of that back and forth that if you didn't hear it right, they can clarify it. And that as a simple starting place can really avoid a lot of tension and conflict because largely most people misunderstand what the person is saying or communicating that they want done. And then as you work it out, it creates tension down the way.

So I think that's a great starting point. The other one is that sometimes we know we don't understand, you know, it's like they said something, but we're like, I'm not sure. And so I think a phrase that I found really helpful is, you know, I'm confused here. And part that works well because it's an I statement versus, you know, you are not communicating to me clearly, you know, I mean, that may be true, but you don't want to say it.

So you say, you know, I'm confused here. And that can either be about, on the one hand, you say, you want me to do this, maybe get this report done. On the other hand, you're telling me that I need to straighten up our resources and both are, you know, number one priority. Well, I can't have two number one priority.

So, you know, help me understand which one you want done first, or anything like that, where you sort of juxtapose two posing options, or even just that, I'm not really clear what you just told me to do. So could you say it maybe in a different way? I think that's a helpful phrase that can help move things forward. So this clarifying thing could be both the leader and the worker.

There's the leader might say, after if it's a group meeting, and he's, he or she has given some guidelines to say to somebody in the audience, what what now tell me what you heard me say, correct? You're taking the initiative to clarify it. And on the other hand, what you just described would be the worker who was actually taking the initiative to say, let me make sure I understand what you're saying. Yeah. But clarification is the big issue.

Absolutely. And, and I think the other part is sort of managing your own internal thought process about what you're assuming about the other person and why they're doing it. Sometimes we can create negative assumptions that lead us to probably conclusions that are not correct about why they're doing it. But that's another sort of aspect of not just communication, but our assumptions about what they mean or what they're trying to do. So how do you deal with that? You know, we all have assumptions of people, if we work with them a while, we, you know, have an idea, well, you know, they are very, very specific, they're very detailed, or, you know, they're not very detailed, they overlook details. How do you deal with these perceptions that you have with people? Well, I think that the first thing is to just create a rule in the company that you can't have negative assumptions about other people.

So, you know, that'd be nice. We're trying to sort of regulate people by rules, but I think there's two kinds of assumptions that get in the way. One is the assumption about their goal, their motive. So for example, if somebody shares, you've had an event that went on in your sort of debriefing it as a team and somebody shares some things that didn't go as well as expected, you know, a team member who maybe was part of that and helped make that happen and say, you know, they're trying to make me look bad in front of somebody else versus another possible motive or goal is, hey, let's figure out how we can improve this for next time.

So the communication may be the same, but how the person internally processes it is different. And then the second part is sort of people's motives for doing things. I mean, why are they doing this?

Is it that they want to look good for themselves? They have a malicious intent or, you know, they're just trying to make things better. And that whole process seems to me to be highly related to trust in the relationship. That when we have trusting relationships with our colleagues, which involves knowing people to some degree, makes that go better or worse.

If we don't trust them, then we're more likely to maybe, you know, infer malintent. Dr. White, in the book, we talk about indirect communication and how this sometimes causes problems in the workplace. Can you give us some examples of that?

Yeah. You know, Gary, when we did some research on toxic workplaces, we found that indirect communication is sort of one of the core factors that actually sort of helps, if you will, help grow a toxic workplace. And the reason is that it's not that indirect communication is sort of morally wrong in and of itself, but it's not an effective way to communicate.

And there's different types of indirect communication, right? There's sort of the saying one thing and sort of meaning or inferring another, hoping that they catch what you're trying to say. It's like, well, you know, that didn't go that well. Whereas they may really mean, you know, we need to talk about that this was not good. Or telling a team member that you're communicating a message to them to communicate to somebody else for fear of a negative response. I mean, it's sort of like, you know, tell Jim that we're not going to get that product out for two weeks.

And I know it's due this Friday, but it's just not going to happen. And so, you tell, you know, Jennifer to go communicate that to him. And, you know, then you have the problem of sort of shooting the messenger. The person gets a negative message and they're angry about it. And then they ask why, and the messenger doesn't necessarily know why. And so, it interferes with effective communication to be able to deal with that. And I think a third kind of indirect communication that happens in a workplace is going around somebody to get the answer that you want.

You know that your supervisor has already sort of taken a position about, no, you can't take your vacation, you know, between Christmas and New Year's, but you're going to ask their supervisor, the manager, who maybe doesn't know all the details so that you get the answer that you want. And all of those just create really lots of relational problems, communication problems that wind up just being sort of a bird's nest of tangles. You can still speak the truth, speak it in a kind way.

Right. You know, and that reminds me back to the goal of relationships. I mean, we talked about it's the mission of the organization, but as Christians, another goal is to love those around us, right? To be kind, to be servants, to help them prosper. And sometimes as Christians, I think we get so engrossed in the work aspect of our work about getting tasks done that we sort of forget about the kindness part, which is a problem. Yeah. You mentioned the whole concept of service, which is a central theme, of course, in the Christian community.

At least we talk about it. You know, we may not always have a serving attitude, but we talk about it. A person who chooses to have an attitude that one of my things in this business is I want to serve the people with whom I work and I want to serve our customers. That person, it seems to me, would likely create a much more positive atmosphere than someone who was simply just getting the job done.

I would agree. And I think part of that is that when you're serving somebody and they see that you're interested in them and in what is important to them, that builds trust. Because one of the issues of trust is, and we use three C's when we talk about this in the book, but trust is actually a combination of competence. Can the person do the job?

I mean, you shouldn't trust me to do open heart surgery because I don't know how to do that, right? And then you have character, which is not only integrity, but in the workplaces, is somebody looking out for my interest as well as their own? I don't think that they have to look out for mine instead of their own, but are they considering my... And that's why people historically haven't trusted used car salesman or other people like that because it felt like they were just trying to get a sale.

It didn't matter what kind of car we got, right? And then the third part of it is consistency. You can have a competent person, but if they don't show up regularly, if they don't get the work done on time, then it's hard to trust them. And we talk about trust not being an all or nothing, but it's very situation specific. But I think when we're servants, we communicate that character that I'm interested in what's good for you. And so it helps build a trusting relationship there.

Yeah. We hope today's program is encouraging to you about your workplace. If you'd like more information about the topic, just go to The title of our featured resource is Making Things Right at Work, Increase Teamwork, Resolve Conflict, and Build Trust. It's written by our guest, Dr. Paul White, along with our host, Dr. Gary Chapman, as well as Dr. Jennifer Thomas.

Find out more at Dr. White, I don't know if this happens in a lot of places, but what about when there's a pattern of deceit in the workplace? Yeah. And let me reframe that a little bit. I think it's more common that somebody within the company may be acting deceitfully or a part of the company. There may be some, but I don't know that a whole organization is built that way. But clearly there are people who are trying to achieve certain goals regardless of how they get there.

And I think it is challenging as an employee or even a leader in that organization, what do I do here? And as we think about just even dealing with those kinds of issues in life, I think the first thing is to go slow in reacting, right? To not just automatically react either verbally and make accusations or emotionally, but to check to make sure that you're understanding the situation correctly, that you have all the information that's necessary for you to make that kind of conclusion. Because sometimes, especially as we're further down on the organizational ladder, we may not have access to all the information that went into a certain decision. And so we may not know that there are certain laws or rules or regulations passed that changed that make it now okay to do this or whatever. And I think asking questions is helpful, especially to the right person, not just asking questions sort of all over, you shoot off an email to the CEO or whatever. And using that sort of, I'm confused.

On the one hand, we say we're focused on customer service, but on the other hand, we've got this process where it clearly leaves the customer out in the cold. I mean, it helped me understand that either I don't understand the process right, or my observations are wrong. And sometimes to say, I'm concerned about this as I see it. And then I think the next step is to clearly pray, pray for wisdom. Because too often, at least me and my personality type, we go off and sort of just decide we're gonna do God's work for him and bring righteousness. And we sort of just mess it up in a way, because we often don't do it in a kind and loving way, speaking truth and love. And then not only pray for wisdom, but seek out wise counsel.

I mean, it doesn't have to be somebody in the work organization, but somebody that you trust, that they understand organizational dynamics and different kinds of things and say, am I seeing this right? Am I missing something? Am I overreacting? And not that we want to drag our feet when things aren't being done correctly.

But I think for a lot of people, sort of overreacting or reacting too soon before they really accurately know the situation is more the risk. Yeah, I remember the account of a manager who was sharing with her husband that her assistant was just not hacking it, just wasn't getting the job done. And she talked with her and it still wasn't happening. And she said to her husband, I'm just gonna fire her.

And the husband said, well, why don't you, first of all, spend a little time with her and find out if something else is going on in her life that might be affecting that? And so she did. The next day, she spent time and found out that the ladies, that her assistant's son, teenage son, was strung out on drugs. And she was deeply, deeply concerned about it, didn't know what to do about it. And now the manager realized what's going on. So she makes efforts, let's find a treatment center. She helped her do that. And in due time, that assistant became one of her best friends. Exactly.

Yeah. You're right on target with that, Gary, because when I speak with groups about appreciation and there are situations where people that are difficult to appreciate, I mean, whether it's personality style or you don't see that they're doing the job. And one of the things that I encourage people to do is get to know the person because appreciation is about the person and maybe they're not doing the job like they should, or maybe they're not in the right place. I mean, I was a carpenter for a while and I have no visual spatial skills at all. It's like, it didn't take too long to figure out this is not the way for me to go. It wasn't, I was a bad person necessarily.

I just didn't have the skill set. And so getting to know the person, I think is huge in this whole aspect, whether it's appreciation or conflict resolution, because as we get to know people, it helps us understand their perspective on the situation so that we find out more about their background and where they came from and maybe even experiences that they've had that, you know, they came out of an organization that the managers in the management wasn't trustworthy. And so they bring that to your situation. And so they're always questioning and always sort of battling, because they've just had this experience that you can't trust managers. But understanding that helps you be able to frame it differently and respond differently as well.

Yeah. Dr. White, you and I wrote this book along with Dr. Jennifer Thomas, and she came up with the apology languages that people have different concepts of what a sincere apology looks like. Let's talk a little bit about this and how important that is in a work setting. It's an interesting concept, Gary, because I talked to some different people about this, and we got sort of mixed messages. On the one hand, some people said, well, in the secular workplace, people don't apologize because they don't ever admit that they're wrong, right?

And so it's sort of like a non-starter for them. For us as Christians, I think it's sort of when we've messed up, right? And we need to make it right. And whether or not we messed up intentionally, or it was just an unintentional mistake or oversight that we should have included another person on the email response and we forgot to, and now it created some problems or even offense and apologizing about that. So I think there's some wisdom needed in the situation about both accepting the responsibility to apologize for our own actions, but not necessarily expecting others to apologize in the workplace if they're not followers of Christ, because it may not really be sort of part of how they move through life. So we talked about apology, but what about forgiveness?

What does that look like in the workplace? Well, you know, we chose not to use the word forgiveness very much in the book, because in our culture, the word forgiveness is sort of an emotionally and memory-laden word. For some people who maybe grew up in the Catholic Church, it's going to Mass and taking the Eucharist and being forgiven, and there's guilt around that. And for evangelical Christians, it might be asking Christ to forgive us for our sins.

For a lot of people, and maybe even people who aren't currently followers of Christ, they've had experiences with the word, and it's often not a positive one. So we chose to use the word letting go of hurt and anger and offense. And it's necessary because if we carry around all the sort of hurt and pain and angst from all the different kinds of times that things haven't gone right, I mean, it's just a burden. And so we need to let go of holding a grudge, if you will. I mean, it's not fully forgiveness in our understanding of it, but letting go of that grudge against a person so that we can move on and continue to communicate and relate to them in a positive way. Dr. White, we've talked a lot about conflict in the workplace, but can conflict at work actually help build a team?

Absolutely, Gary. In fact, there's a fair amount of research that shows that workplace cultures and teams that allow and even maybe sort of create some tension and conflict, create a better process and better product. And the reason is that if conflict sometimes comes from different perspectives, we need those perspectives to understand how somebody else may view what we're doing or the product that we have and being able to bring together differing backgrounds, different expertise that we're saying, well, yeah, from a visual point of view, this looks really good, but practically it doesn't work as well if it's got one leg versus two legs, whatever it might be. And so actually having the ability to work through differences of opinion, of perspective is critical to actually creating good processes and products. And if you have a culture and I've shown this through research, if you have a culture that doesn't allow for that, it can really lead to some failure kinds of results because people weren't allowed to ask the question or raise the point that, what about the safety of this? Is this really what we want to do?

What happens if X, Y, or Z happens and then it creates hurt or accident for somebody? So understanding the importance of different perspectives is really important to value as a team and as a leader versus feeling like you're personally challenged about something. If somebody disagrees, it doesn't mean that anybody's wrong. It just means that, hey, I got a different viewpoint.

Yeah. And in that sense, conflict can build a better relationship. Dr. Weiss, we come toward the end of our program.

I want to ask this question. What do you see as the future of work in America in particular? Well, if we look at our immediate circumstances, I think we need to just expect that things are going to continue to be unstable, unpredictable, a lot of change.

And for those people who really like things structured and be able to plan three, six, 12 months out, hang onto your hat because I don't think that's going to be happening. And so that creates some unsettledness and tension within the workplace that's just there because of the external environment. And so I think we need to understand that. And I think we have to some degree, and we give each other a little bit more grace of dealing with things when they're unsettled. But along with that, I think we've got some challenges about how to stay connected interpersonally with people. We can do Zoom calls and we can have meetings about budgets and task lists and all that.

But when we're remote a lot or working in different places, if we don't have sort of those informal personal conversations, things sort of deteriorate to just treating one another like work units. And it's just like, did you get this done? You know, why isn't this done yet?

I need it done a different way or whatever. And we don't have those chats about, you know, what'd you do this weekend? Or how are your kids doing?

And, you know, is your mom getting better? And those are the kinds of connections that we need to intentionally pursue, because I'm really concerned about a number of large organizations say we're going to go remote 100%. And that's fine on one hand, but I know from experience of working on some totally remote teams that had never met each other, it's really hard to work together well, because you don't know one another as a person. And I really believe appreciation is from person to person. And so trying to communicate appreciation in that situation actually doesn't work very well, because it feels weird.

It doesn't feel authentic. You may be able to show recognition for performance, but appreciating them as a person isn't there. And so I think there's the risk of disconnecting and then people are more likely to leave and also more likely to have problems. We did research that we found where during the initial stages of COVID, people who were working from home and stayed connected at a personal level with their colleagues fared better from a mental health point of view and attitude point of view than those who were cut off from their peers. So I think we've got to keep that in mind. And it's not just about productivity, getting things done, but it's about the health of the organization and the health of the people in our organization.

So finding a way to keep those personal relationships. As you were saying that, I'm thinking, okay, maybe we can have some Zoom break times, 15 minutes. Let's speak for a break.

15 minutes and let's talk about family, things other than business. Well, this has been a great discussion, Dr. White. I really appreciate your being with us today.

I am excited about this book. I think that whether you're a leader or manager in business or whether you're an employee, I think this book is going to help individuals relate to people in the workplace in a more positive way. So thanks for being with us today.

Thanks so much for having me, Gary. If you have some relational struggles at your work, this is a resource that will give you some practical help. The title again, Making Things Right at Work, Increase Teamwork, Resolve Conflict, and Build Trust, written by Dr. Paul White, who's been with us today, along with Dr. Gary Chapman and Dr. Jennifer Thomas.

Just go to to find out more. And next week, I'll take your phone calls about your relationship struggles. Don't miss our March edition of Dear Gary in One Week. Big thank you to Steve Wick and Janice Todd for their production work today. Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman is a production of Moody Radio in Chicago, in association with Moody Publishers, a ministry of Moody Bible Institute. Thanks for listening.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-20 18:43:37 / 2023-05-20 19:02:30 / 19

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