nav buttonnav buttonnav buttonnav buttonnav button
heading
heading
  • Crisis Counselling
  • Pastoral Counselling
  • Spiritual Counselling
  • Family Therapy
  • Couples Therapy
  • Forensic Psychology
  • Mood Disorders
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Eating Disorders
  • Pain Management
  • Substance Abuse
  • Addictions
  • Learning Problems in Children
  • Mediation
  • Psychometric Testing
  • Career Counselling
  • Industrial Psychology
heading

Dr Adelbert Scholtz
Counselling Psychologist

HPCSA Number: PS 58157
Practice Number: 8639663

Gender: Male

Languages: Afrikaans, English, German
& Dutch

Range of Fees: According to the tariff
structure of medical aid funds; 15%
discount for cash payments

heading

Consulting Rooms:

67 Brookside Village
Schapenberg Road
SOMERSET WEST
(Behind Vergelegen Medi-Clinic)

10 Eighth Ave
Boston
BELLVILLE
(Inside church hall of the NG Kerk
Bellville West)

Phone for appointments:
021 852 6978 / 083 583 1476

E-mail:
adelbertscholtz@hotmail.com


Certified BrainWorking Recursive Therapy Practitioner


BrainWorking Recursive Therapy Professionals Worldwide


heading

HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS

- Adelbert Scholtz

Reactions to stress

Stress in our lives stems in a majority of cases from bad interpersonal relationships. These include clashes with friends, family members, co-workers, supervisors or management and conflict resulting from these clashes – together with a lack of social skills with which to deal with difficult situations.

Social and interpersonal skills

Sound human relationships rest on good social or interpersonal skills. These skills can be described as –

the ability to produce the desired effect on others in a social situation.

Social skills consist mainly of the following:

  • Verbal skills (verbal fluency and listening skills); and
  • Non-verbal skills (non-verbal communication, interpersonal attitudes, empathy, self-presentation and assertiveness).

These skills can be taught. Training programmes to improve the social skills of people are always worthwhile - especially where people have to work together in teams or where they have to deal with members of the public.

Conflict

Conflict can be described as -

the simultaneous occurrence of two or more incompatible motives or demands.

That can lead to -

  • frustration because goals cannot be reached or needs cannot be satisfied; and
  • anger because people feel that they have been treated unjustly.

Conflict can be either constructive or destructive. Constructive conflict, on the one hand, occurs in a controlled situation where people have different goals, plans or expectations and where they can talk it over in a civilised manner. This type of conflict can lead to innovative solutions of problems, challenges to people to perform better and, indirectly, to improved productivity or better performance. Destructive conflict on the other hand is bad for productivity or the organisational health. Destructive conflict may -

  • lead to a waste of time and resources;
  • be very costly in terms of unproductive energy expended;
  • undermine peoples' psychological well-being; and
  • result in sabotage of equipment or products by angry and frustrated workers.

The worst form of conflict is, of course, warfare.

When people have to work together while performing complex tasks it is inevitable that misunderstandings, hurt feelings, breakdowns in communication and destructive conflicts arise. These can have a detrimental effect on productivity and they have to be managed properly.
Conflict between individuals or groups within an organisation – whether it is a company, a church or an association – may result from the following factors:

  • Competition for scarce resources such as money, time, tools, materials, working space or transport;
  • A clash of interests and the resulting bad feelings and distrust between individuals or groups within the organisation;
  • The abuse of people by others who are guilty of humiliating behaviour, unreasonable punishment or the sexual harassment of women;
  • Excessive control of workers by supervisors;
  • Personality clashes resulting from differences regarding age, gender, work ethics, interests, etc.; and
  • Competing demands from work and home - many workers do not have enough time and energy to satisfy occupational as well as domestic demands and that causes friction at work and in the home.

The best policy is to prevent destructive conflict as much as possible. That can be achieved where sound and trusting relationships between all concerned parties are established. This happens where people are being recognised and respected as individuals -each with his or her own personality, needs and rights. An enduring relationship is a relationship that is rewarding for everybody; all parties' social needs must be fulfilled and they have to receive social rewards such as recognition, security and excitement.

Conflict is further avoided by sticking to the rules (formal and informal) regarding the relationships between supervisors and subordinates or between members of an organisation, team or group. A good example is the set of rules on sexual harassment that every employer is compelled by law to adopt (s 54 of the Employment Equity Act, no 55 of 1998; Code of Good Practice on the Handling of Sexual Harassment Cases in the Workplace – GN 1357 in GG 27865 of 4 August 2005). When these rules are transgressed, it should lead to disciplinary action in order to avoid a reoccurrence and to promote good relationships in the organisation.

Sometimes healthy competition between groups and teams within an organisation (including churches) deteriorates into rivalry and even hostility. This can happen where groups have to compete for scarce resources, slices of the budget or privileges. When this happens, management has to act decisively since this form of conflict can have disastrous consequences. The source of friction between these groups has to be eliminated and a common loyalty to the organisation as a whole has to be fostered.
The most far-reaching form of conflict in industry and business is friction between management and workers that leads to industrial action – strikes, go-slows, work-to-rule, lock-outs or other sanctions. The cause for this friction is mostly a clash of interests; the dispute is usually complex in nature and may consist of a combination of any of the following:

  • Frustration when workers have the perception that they are not being treated fairly or that management doesn't keep promises;
  • Dissatisfaction over pay and other allowances and benefits;
  • Low job satisfaction; and
  • Bad management practices.

There is a comprehensive set of legal prescriptions for the handling of industrial disputes (Ch IV of the Labour Relations Act, no 66 of 1995). Within the framework of these prescriptions good negotiation skills are called for in order to prevent damage to the interests of the company and the interests of the workers.

Negotiation is a highly specialised activity, which cannot be discussed in any depth here. Suffice to say that this type of negotiation requires persons who can "read" the minds of the other party, have excellent communication skills, have empathy with the concerns of the other party and be assertive, honest and persuasive.

A type of conflict that is characteristic of the South African situation is race-related, culture-related and religion-related conflict. This rainbow nation of ours has eleven official languages; apart from that, a number of languages such as German, Greek, Portuguese, Hindi, Tamil, Urdu and the Khoi –, Nama – and San-Languages are also spoken. There are Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and adherents of traditional African religions – as well as a number of atheists and agnostics. There are Black people, so-called Coloured People, White People and people whose ancestors came from Asia. The potential for misunderstanding, friction, intolerance and conflict is enormous. That this country is relatively peaceful is actually amazing. Discrimination based, amongst others, on race, colour, religion, creed, belief, culture or language is explicitly forbidden in s 9(3) & (4) of the Constitution of the RSA, no 108 of 1996 (as amended).

Where the Employment Equity Act regulates the transition to a workforce that is broadly representative of society as a whole people from different racial, cultural and religious backgrounds are forced to work alongside each other. It must be the ideal that the management of each organisation works towards a culture of tolerance and respect for diversity inside that organisation. It goes without saying that this type of respect and tolerance should also characterise every church.

Dealing with conflict

There are various styles for handling destructive conflict. Unproductive and ineffective styles are the following:

  • Appeasement: the peace must be kept at all costs and therefore one must capitulate in the face of demands;
  • Competition: the competing parties try to win at all costs and protect their interests, even if it means annihilating the other side;
  • Ignoring: differences and clashes must be swept under the rug as if they never existed; and
  • Compromise: an effort is made to satisfy all parties and create a win-win situation, although everybody must part with some of their demands.

The only effective style for dealing with conflicts within an organisation is the co-operative style. The maximum effort must be made to satisfy everybody's needs and to get all the parties satisfied. This calls for an in-depth investigation into the real needs and interests of the parties and creative solutions to meet those needs and interests. These solutions may result in some adaptations by certain parties but everybody will gain by having improved relationships between the competing factions. The co-operative style of dealing with conflict utilises one or more of the following techniques:

  • Letting off steam: the affected parties get the opportunity to state their case and to voice their frustrations and anger - when they perceive that their concerns are being heard it may lead to greater calm and rationality;
  • Negotiation: the warring factions are encouraged to listen to each other and to try to understand the point of view of their adversaries so as to weed out spurious and unrealistic demands;
  • Confrontation: the competing parties undertake a honest investigation into the reasons for the conflict and to find common ground; this must lead -

    o to plans to overcome the clash of interests;

    o to a solution acceptable to both parties; and

    o to a clear undertaking by the parties to co-operate in future; and

  • Appeal to a higher authority and arbitration: an impartial person or group of persons in a position of authority investigate the causes for the conflict and make a ruling, which is binding on all those affected.

Role-related stress

Every job and every position implies that the incumbent assume a number of different roles. A manager has, for instance, to be a good leader, innovator, administrator, counsellor and communicator.

It is not always clear which roles a certain person has to play and role ambiguity may result. This inevitably causes stress. The person in question has to improvise – especially in a new job. This may not always meet with the approval of others and conflict may result.

Friction can also arise from role conflict. That happens where tasks and relationships are not fully articulated (and this is not always possible) and where the job incumbent and others in the environment (supervisors, colleagues etc) have differing perceptions of the roles connected with the job. These conflicting perceptions and expectations may lead to stress and conflict.

The management of this type of conflict calls for great wisdom. A round table conference under the chairmanship of a senior manager or personnel officer where all concerned parties can voice their concerns, frustrations, problems, needs and expectations can do a lot to diffuse a difficult situation.

Another source of conflict is role overlap. This happens where the same role or task is assigned to two different employees. Each will see the other's actions as an invasion into personal territory or sphere of influence and that will cause resentment.

The opposite situation, that of gaps in role assignment, is also a cause of friction. Where workers are dependent on each other for the completion of their tasks, but certain necessary steps in the process are not assigned to anybody, then these workers will certainly blame each other for letting the other down.

The remedy for conflict resulting from role overlap and gaps in role assignment is, of course, a thorough job analysis of all jobs concerned, a better definition of roles and a clear and definitive demarcation of boundaries.

Social skills training

Conflict in the work place can be largely avoided where the social skills of managers, supervisors and employees are improved by training. The best method has proved to be a combination of role-play and lectures, video or film presentations and discussions.

During role-play real life situations are mimicked and afterwards analysed and criticised by the audience. The course leader, usually a social scientist, uses this role-play to give coaching in a number of subjects. Many studies have confirmed the success of this type of training: managers learn to manage better, supervisors learn to supervise better and workers learn to work more effectively and efficiently.

The following subjects are usually covered:

  • human relations (the giving of recognition, dealing with emotional and aggressive people etc);
  • general management;
  • self-awareness and self-presentation;
  • knowledge of the cultural diversity of South Africa;
  • communication skills;
  • problem solving;
  • motivation;
  • negotiation, facilitating conflict and group dynamics; and
  • disciplinary action and the handling of complaints.

Adelbert Scholtz -

  • has a Ph.D. in occupational psychology;
  • practices as a counselling psychologist in the Cape Peninsula; and
  • is a labour consultant with the Humanitas Labour and Personnel Consultants.

He can be reached at humanitas@ananzi.co.za.