Conflict at Work? Learn about 4 Goals of Inter-personal, Misbehavior
  • Unhappy at work?

  • Confused about why your coworkers/boss do what they do?

  • Would you like to improve your relationships?

  • Understand what motivates you and your colleagues. Cut the drama and increase cooperation and teamwork...

    I used to work as a Conflict Resolution Manager at a College of Business, Technology and Healthcare in beautiful, Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada). I helped mediate conflict between faculty, staff, students and administration. There was never a shortage of conflict!

    As an Adlerian Trained counselor, I had an 'a-ha' moment one day. I found a practical application for some research on childhood behavior. I recalled learning about the 4 goals of misbehavior. This was a theory postulated by Alfred Adler's a psychologist and contemporary of Sigmund Freud. I realized that the dynamics which occur in a family unit, also occur in the workplace. They may just take a more subtle form.

    You will know which goal of misbehavior your coworkers is using by how it makes you feel.

    4 Goals of Misbehavior

    1. Goal of Attention

    Person: "I count only when I am being noticed or served. "The person feels he or she only belongs as long as the leader is prepared to pay attention to them. Attention seekers dread being ignored.

    Example: Noisy during meetings, taps a pencil, shuffles papers, sighs loudly. Always jumps into others' conversations, hangs out at the water-cooler looking for attention. Wears flamboyant clothes. Speaks in a loud or overly dramatic manner, even when it isn't called for.

    You will feel: Annoyed; you'll want to remind or coax others.

    Person: They will temporarily stop the behavior, when given attention. Soon, they will resume the behavior or begin a new attention-seeking behavior.

    Solution/response: Give them attention for positive behavior, when they aren't expecting it. Never give attention on demand. Ignore attention-seeking behaviors.

    2.Goal of Power

    Person: "I count only when I am dominating. I can do whatever I want. Only feels worthwhile if she or he is being boss and controlling everybody. Proves their importance by refusing to do anything you want.

    Example: Aggressive - will say no to projects, before they have even heard all the details. Passive Aggressive, drags their feet, smiles but doesn't perform their share of team work. Delays sharing information with others or hoards contacts and information. Suspicious or overly jealous.

    You will feel: Provoked, angry. I won't let them get away with this! l'll make him/her do it! You can't get away with it.

    Person: Intensifies power-seeking behavior when reprimanded. Wants to win even more, becomes defiant.

    Solution/Response: Do not engage in the conflict. Withdraw from conflict; act, rather than talk. Walk away.
    Be friendly instead. Establish equality; redirect employees’ efforts into constructive channels.

    3. Goal of Revenge

    Person: "I can't be liked. I don't have power. l will count if I can hurt others as I feel hurt by life. Person may revert to revenge after a failed, power play (IE: passed over for a key project or promotion).

    Example: Sabotages others' efforts overly or covertly. Rejects all compliments or encouragement and views this with suspicion. Provokes hostility in their voice, tone, facial expression, body language etc...

    You will feel: Hurt. How can he/she do this to me?

    Person: Wants to get even. Makes self disliked. Seeks further revenge.
    Solution/Response: Avoid retaliation or punishment. Take time and effort to help them. Rebuild trust and the relationship.

    4. Goal - Display of Inadequacy

    Person: I can't do anything right so I won't try to do anything at all. May be a perfectionist, fear of failure. See themselves as incompetent. They are deeply discouraged, and no longer hope for any success or recognition at work or in life. Their sole purpose is to avoid further hurt, humiliation or frustration.

    Example: View themselves as incompetent and inadequate. Put others in their service, by overemphasizing their lack of skills and abilities. Gets others to do their work. Hides behind a lack of ability, so that their real or imagined flaws will not be discovered.

    You will feel: Despair, hopeless, discouraged. I give up.

    Person: No reprimand, therefore no reaction. Feels there is no use in even trying. Passive, no improvement.
    Solution/Response: Encourage any positive effort or behavior. Have faith in their ability, don't do it for them. Don't give up, pity or criticize. Be patient. Engage them in activities to build their confidence, success experiences.

    Analyze your response to others’ misbehavior. Reflect on your own behavior and how it has contributed to the situation. Your coworker or boss's bad behavior, may not even be aimed at you as an individual. They may be angry at the company or the system or the world. Misbehavior, is simply a failed attempt to belong and find self-worth. Try something new!