Gossip comes with a high dose of toxicity that spreads and propagates. It differs from harmless everyday conversations in that it often tends to be inflammatory or embarrassing to people, and feeds off a negative emotional charge, which is hurtful, damaging and insidious… So, ask yourselves about that last juicy story you just heard: is it something you would repeat in front of the person concerned?
Sometimes bosses seem to wear Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak: always caught in meetings, away on duty travel, overwhelmed with technical duties… the time they have left to spend with their teams can drop down to almost zero. But their people need them…
“Oh no, he is too busy.” “I can’t go and disturb my supervisor, she has no time.” “No, my supervisor doesn’t want to deal with this type of interpersonal problem.” “I have been struggling to get a final decision on this for ages now...”
When a long-standing conflict appears to permeate every action, and even the rest of the team seem resigned to there being no hope of a solution, there is still always a way out, even if only one of the people concerned decides to do something about it…
Summer is the time when everybody feels more relaxed and, while we continue to work hard, we also take the time to pause and get to know our colleagues better. This is a very natural and effective way to re-energise. However, let’s not forget that we remain ‘Cernese’ at all times, and that CERN values continue to guide our interactions even at this time, whether we are at work or enjoying a well-earned break.
If you find yourself repeatedly witnessing a situation of inter personal conflict or tension between other colleagues, you have a choice: you can either turn a blind eye to it or you can try to help. In the latter case, you may wish to get another perspective or some guidance before taking steps.
A few weeks ago I attended the 2015 annual conference of the International Ombudsman Association. It was the second time that I had participated in this conference (see here my report from last year) and, once again, I would like to share some of my experience with you.
The on-going campaign Respect@CERN was re-launched this year on Tuesday 5 May with a discussion forum led by Alan Richter, an expert consultant in ethics and diversity. Seeing so many colleagues in the Council Chamber for this kick-off event was a clear indication of interest in the topic as well as a willingness to engage in promoting a respectful workplace. Now, the discussion continues through the dedicated website.
CERNese is the language spoken here: based on English and French, it’s a mixture of accents, pronunciations and body languages that go well together. CERNese is also an attitude: we make an effort to understand others and to ensure that other people understand what we say. Do you speak this language?
Very often, misunderstandings originate from the assumptions we make about people’s intentions, even where in fact there are no actual differences in thinking. Sometimes, speaking up is enough to resolve these misunderstandings… provided this is what both parties want.
When normal communication breaks down and there is no sharing anymore, office-mates can become ‘space invaders’. Very often, the situation can be resolved effectively by taking just a few simple steps...