Conflict resolution part of construction safety conference

Photo credit: Glenda Sims on Flickr

Photo credit: Glenda Sims on Flickr

“If you want to get respect, you have to give respect first.”

That was a key message from The Top 5 Do’s and Don’ts of Workplace Conflict Resolution says Sam Livingstone, a Construction Safety Officer (CSO) who took part in this break-out session at Bridging the Gap – the 2014 construction safety conference in Richmond, BC, Canada.

Sam – who is @SafetySammy on Twitter – said the session was well received. It included actors who showed the right way – and the wrong way – to deal with conflict.

One great tip, for example is “DON’T rush to your solutions with a person who is angry, belligerent or emotional.” Instead it’s better to “be ready to listen when someone is emotional and then explore mutually acceptable resolutions.”

Sam said he’s talked with other CSOs about what’s behind a lack of respect.

“They say ‘I don’t get respect; people don’t take me seriously,’ or ‘They don’t give me the respect I deserve.’ My first question is ‘Do you give them the respect they deserve?’ If you’ve got a tradesman with 30 years of experience doing his trade, do you go up to him and start insulting his work habits, or do you acknowledge his experience first?”

Construction sites are notorious for what I will call “macho attitudes” – and I’ve heard some pretty extreme stories by friends who work in this industry. But this is changing, now that BC employers are bound by new workplace bullying and harassment policies. I asked Sam about the challenging nature of promoting an anti-bullying approach in the harsh construction climate.

“Definitely it’s challenging, but it doesn’t mean you don’t try,” he said, describing how things have changed. “I remember when I started doing this job – as a foreman – from management’s perspective, I wasn’t doing my job if the guys didn’t hate me. Now that’s changed… It’s part of an ongoing process.”

WorkSafeBC’s Bullying and harassment prevention tool kit includes “resources to help employers and workers understand their legal duties, and prevent and address bullying and harassment,” it reads.

Thanks to Sam for telling me about this – and please do let me know if you’ve seen any changes in this industry.


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