Empathy Beats Anger in Resolving Workplace Conflicts

Oct 10, 2016

The next time a co-worker takes credit for your idea or says something offensive, don't get angry: Take a deep breath and try empathizing with them.

According to five studies conducted by Gabrielle Adams and M. Ena Inesi of the London Business School, transgressors often don't intend for their actions to be hurtful, while the person who experienced the transgression typically thinks the offense was intentional. According to the authors, the victim may not realize how guilty the transgressor feels. A little empathy of behalf of the transgressor can go a long way in resolving the disputes.

In one of the studies, 179 people recorded events in which they offended people or were offended, over a five day period. Adams told the New York Times that examining these records proved that there are often "miscalculations" between what people intend with their actions and how others interpret them.

"Transgressors seek forgiveness more than victims realize, suggesting that victims might withhold forgiveness when it could repair the relationship," the authors write.

Adams said rather than taking offense, try empathizing with and forgiving the person who did you wrong. Doing so could make going to work much more enjoyable.

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