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Conflict Evaluation

The conflict described in the case study is emotional and coercive in

nature. Laura, a new employee at a publishing company, was the
recipient of a sexual advance by a coworker and supervisor, Tim. The
conflict, therefore, lies between Laura and Tim. Laura decides not to
tell her superiors about the situation because as a new employee she
does not want to lose her job, especially since Tim is in a position of
power in the organization. This may be seen as a coercive situation in
which inequality of power silences Laura at the expense of her
emotional wellbeing. Tim does apologize but continues to bring up the
incident at every opportunity, which makes Laura feel increasingly
uncomfortable. At this point, it becomes a conflict of communication. I
believe that Tim feels horrified by his actions so his repetitive
apologies are his attempt to make the situation right, though it is
probably self-serving (he is afraid that Laura will his superiors). This is
evident when he approaches management and tells them a story that
does not accurately reflect the truth of his actions. In Lauras mind,
she has communicated with Tim that she does not want him to keep
apologizing because it makes her feel uncomfortable. She might view
his actions as manipulation.

Root Causes of the Conflict

It is hard to evaluate the root causes of the conflict in an unbiased way.
I believe Tim is using his power and authority to manipulate the
situation in his favor. According to Myatt (2012), there are two major
causes of conflict including lack of communication, and letting ones
emotions drive decision-making. Both causes of conflict are evident in
this case study. Laura is afraid of losing her job. Her fear drives her
decision to keep the incident a secret instead of reporting it to her
supervisors. Tim, on the other hand, is embarrassed by his actions and
knows he can get in trouble. Out of fear, he makes frequent apologies
to Laura and begins to feel paranoid that she has told coworkers about
the incident. It ultimately leads him to tell a fabricated story to
management so that Laura is moved to another department.
Communication is another root cause of this conflict. Instead of telling
her superiors about the situation, Laura decides to keep the incident to
herself. Instead, she begins to confide in her coworkers, which only
aggravates Tim and makes him paranoid. She communicates with Tim
that his constant apologies make her feel uncomfortable but Tim does
not listen.

Recommendations and Learning Opportunities

My recommendations would be as follows:

Laura needs to tell upper management about the incident. It is

serious in nature. The fact that she didnt might signal that the
work environment is not amendable to cases of sexual
harassment and does not have structures in place that make
reporting easy and confidential.
o Management needs to consider their policies on sexual
harassment. The company must define acceptable
behavior (Myatt, 2012).
o Management should hire an outside consultant to evaluate
the work environment and make recommendations on how
they can make it more gender inclusive. Through informal
interviews, they may discover other similar experiences.
o Management should offer sexual harassment training to all
employees as a requirement for employment
Tim needs to be fired. His aggressive sexual advance is serious
in nature and should not be tolerated. In no way, shape, or
form, was it Lauras fault that he made the advance.
Unfortunately, in the corporate world, it is easy for these types
of incidents to be misconstrued so that the blame is shifted to
the female.

Myatt, M. (2012). Five Keys of Dealing with Workplace Conflict. Forbes.
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