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Part: I An Aggressive Species > Don't Fight—Find Out!

Chapter 3. Don't Fight—Find Out!

Sometimes office fights—much like fights anywhere—can start with deeply held opinions about how things are or should be. The trigger doesn't even have to be something as big as politics. A battle can erupt over ordinary views about what happens every day. As people express their views, they can end up in warring camps, each thinking the other is myopic, even crass, ignorant, and biased. Not surprisingly, workplace relationships can deteriorate from there—interfering with work and productivity. Yet, ironically, such passionately held views are often based on wrong assumptions, premises, and beliefs, so people may not be that far apart after all once these errors are revealed. In fact, sometimes the falling out is due to a communication problem rather than genuine disagreement.

That's what happened in one office lunch room when Sonia described a new product she had heard about—self—stick note pads preprinted with English and Spanish lines of copy about how to clean a house. This way an employer who didn't speak Spanish could post the instructions on a wall or on the refrigerator to tell a non-English-speaking Hispanic employee what to do when he or she came to clean. There were translations for phrases like "Scrub the toilet," "Wash the floors," and "Clean the carpets."


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