Saturday, April 12, 2008

Individual Behaviour Handout # 9

Interpersonal Relations at Work

What is ‘Interpersonal Relations’?
The concept of interpersonal relationships involves social associations, connections, or affiliations between two or more people. Such persons may interact overtly, covertly, face-to-face; or may remain effectively unknown to each other (as in a virtual community whose members maintain anonymity and do not socialize outside of a chat-room).
Interpersonal Relations may be defined as a unique and relatively stable behavioral pattern that exists or develops between two people as a result of individual and extra-individual influences.

Why is it important to learn about ‘Interpersonal Relations’?
Interpersonal relations at work (and away, too) play a critical role in the development and maintenance of trust and positive feelings in an organization. Although the quality of interpersonal relationships alone is not enough to produce worker productivity, it can significantly contribute to it.

It has been observed that relationships generally fail due to a lack of honest communication and awareness. Poor interpersonal relations at the work may result in interpersonal violence, rivalry and sabotage.

Interpersonal Relations also provide
• Companionship
• Emotional Support
• Guidance
• Emotional Comfort
• Reliance
• Understanding
• Conflict Resolution
• Identification
• Respect
• Empathy
• Intimacy
• Influence
• Acceptance
• Shared Values

Stages in interpersonal relationships
1) Contact:
a) Perceptual: noticing how parties look at each other and their body-language
b) Interactional cues: nodding, maintaining eye-contact etc.
c) Invitational: encouraging the potential relationship (for example, suggesting a later meeting involving some social lubricant such as coffee)
d) Avoidance strategies: if one person discloses and the other does not: minimal response, lack of eye-contact, etc.
2) Involvement:
a) Feelers: hints or questions (for example: asking about family)
b) Intensifying strategies: furthering the relationship (for example meeting an old friend, bringing the other to meet family, becoming more affectionate etc.)
c) Public: parties seen in public together often (if in a romantic relationship, may involve holding hands)
3) Intimacy: parties very close; may have exchanged some sort of personal belonging or something that represents further commitment. (For example, a promise ring in a romantic relationship or a friendship-necklace identifying two people as best friends.
4) Deterioration: things start to fall apart. In a romantic relationship, typically after some time, people move out of the so-called "honeymoon stage", and start to notice flaws. The way they address this determines the fate of the relationship

Determinnats of Interperosnal Relations
· The discovery or establishment of common ground between individuals provides a fundamental component for enduring interpersonal relationships. Loss of common ground, which may happen over time, may tend to end interpersonal relationships.
· Positive partner-qualities such as compassion, intelligence and an ability and willingness to communicate effectively have "better" outcomes in lasting interpersonal relations.
· Interpersonal relationships through consanguinity and affinity can persist despite the absence of love, affection, or common ground.
· Friendship may involves some degree of transitivity: one may become a friend of an existing friend's friend. But in case a love trangle emegres, one will have to lose.
· Mutual benefits also foster lasting interpersonal relations.

Interpersonal Conflicts

Sources of conflicts:
Personal differences: Everyone has a unique background rooted in his or her upbringing, culture, family traditions, and socialization process. Disagreements stemming from the differences often become highly emotional and take moral overtones. A disagreement about who is factually correct easily turns into a bitter argument over who is morally correct?
Information deficit: Information deficit occurs due to communication breakdown in organizations. It may so happen that two conflicting persons are using different sources of information or both of them are thoroughly misinformed. Unlike personal differences, they are not emotionally charged and once correct information is furnished, there is little resentment.
Role Incompatibility: Sometimes the individual roles of the managers may appear to be incompatible. For example, the production manager and sales manager have interdependent functions: one supports the other. However, the role of the production manager is to cut costs and one way to do this is to keep a low inventory. The sales manager on the other hand has the role of increasing revenue through increased sales. The sales manager may make delivery promises to customers that are incompatible with low inventory maintained by production department. Such a situation may result in nasty interpersonal conflict.
Environmental stress: Conflicts may also arise due to certain environmental constraints such as downsizing, competitive pressures, uncertainty, new work rules, enhanced performance standards, etc.
Conflict Resolution
1. Avoiding: This is unassertive and uncooperative behaviour. A person uses this style to stay away from conflict, ignore disagreements, or remain neutral. The avoidance approach reflects an aversion to tension and frustration and may involve a decision to let conflict work itself out. However, such an approach might frustrate others and lead to project failures. Avoidance may work in case the issue is of passing importance or others can resolve it more effectively.
2. Forcing: This is assertive and uncooperative behaviour and represents a win-lose approach to interpersonal conflict. Those who use this approach actually try to achieve their own goals without concern for others. This style relies on coercive power. It may result in lower morale and motivation of the employees.
3. Accommodating: This is cooperative and non-assertive behaviour. While using this style, an individual may act as though the conflict will go away in time and appeal for cooperation.
4. Collaborating: This is strong cooperative and assertive behaviour. It best represents a win-win approach to interpersonal conflicts. The person using collaboration desires to maximize joint results. An individual who uses this style tends to see conflict as natural, helpful and leading to more creative solution if handled properly. The norms, rewards and punishments of the organization –especially those set by the top management –provide framework for encouraging or discouraging collaboration.
5. Compromising: This refers to behaviour that is placed in between assertiveness and cooperation. This is best represented in ‘give and take’ approach to interpersonal relations. Compromising is widely used and accepted as a means for resolving interpersonal conflicts. As compared to collaborating style, this approach does not maximize mutual satisfaction.
Interpersonal Competencies
· Able to work well with others
Be honest
Able to deal with untrustworthy individuals
Able to build strong professional business relationships
Use joint problem solving
Practice active listening
Be respectful to everyone
Practice patience
Honor your commitments
Hold people accountable

Interpersonal Communication
The goals of interpersonal communication are to understand the exact meaning and intent of others, to be understood by others, to gain acceptance for yourself or your ideas or both, and to produce action or change. Interpersonal communication can be divided into six categories: listening, self-presentation, problem solving, decision-making, negotiating, and conflict management.
Listening “between the words” (akin to “reading between the lines”) helps us to identify problems in negotiating effectively, resolving conflict, and making decisions and helps in problem solving. Self-presentation can be verbal or nonverbal, written or graphic. The effectiveness of oral and written messages varies. For example, a general overview is best conveyed both orally and in writing, but a dispute should be settled orally. Project managers are expected to integrate the efforts of all project participants (or “stakeholders”) and manage all interfaces effectively.

The elements of interpersonal relationships include creating cohesive project teams; developing effective communication skills; emphasizing the importance of listening; delegating effectively; achieving a balance among authority, responsibility, and accountability; negotiating to achieve a win-win outcome; respecting each other’s opinion; helping each other succeed; using power and influence effectively; and managing corporate politics.

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