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Did you see what she posted? Tips for Teenage Tiffs, Fights and Quarrels Online

browsing-15824_1280I am standing in the checkout line at a clothing store the other day when I overheard two teenage girls discussing a recent fight they had with another girl, “Emma” on social media. Apparently, Emma tweeted an ambiguous quote about being a bad friend, and one of the girls knew she was directing the comment at her, despite Emma not using her name, because of the pictures she had recently posted with a boy Emma use to date. The other girl responded that Emma always puts stuff online but won’t ever say things to your face. The girl who was offended by Emma’s ambiguous quote responded, ” Yeah I know, I am seriously about to unfriend her...”

The interaction between these two girls brought up several concerns for how teens interact online.

The first concern is jumping to conclusions about what you read online. The two girls had no idea whether Emma was talking about them or not when she posted the quote. The girl assumed it was about her and rather than asking Emma directly; she jumped to conclusions.

The second concern piggybacks off the first. One girl stated, “Emma always does this stuff online but won’t say things to your face.” Again, there isn’t direct communication to check out those assumptions. On one side of the coin, the internet and social media gives people who are shy, introverted or even conflict averse, a voice. This can be good. On this other side of the coin it can be bad. This leads to my 3rd concern.

My third concern with this interaction is that without any dialogue between Emma and the girl who is offended, Emma is willing to “unfriend” her and end their friendship. The public nature of social media and the peer pressure to take action not only leads to false conclusions but hurt feelings, misunderstood intentions, and unnecessary conflict.

An article by Amanda Lenhart from Pew Research Center highlights some interesting statistics regarding social media, conflict and friendships. Lenhart shares, “About one-in-four teens (26%) have fought with a friend because of something that first happened online or because of a text message.” Another statistic Lenhart expounds, “58% of teens who are on social media or have a cell phone have unfriended or unfollowed someone that they used be friends with.”

Technology brings a lot of good to the world, but the conflict I overheard is a part of the bad it brings. The conflict discussed brings up a concern for the rising adolescent generation who have never known the world without cell phones and the internet. The majority of teen’s interactions appears to be in these two forums. Consider this. When vague comments set you off, or you view a picture online that stirs up drama, or you are unfriending anyone you are in conflict with, what will come of that relationship? If you were on the receiving end of being unfriended or unliked, how would you have preferred that friend to have handled the situation?

The best advice: Go offline; Put Down the Phone; and Have a Face – To -Face Conversation.

I am not suggesting remove yourself from social media and completely go off the grid, which for many of you teenagers would experience as a form of torture. However, we see information online and jump to conclusions; take what you read and see it at face value. It is important to remember that you have more confidence to say whatever you think and feel online and in text than face – to – face. The ending of a friendship online does not resolve the conflict offline. Just because you can no longer see your friend’s statuses, tweets, or photos doesn’t mean you don’t see them in person and still have to deal with the perceived conflict.

Quick tips:

* People are more willing to talk openly with you when you are one – on- one. Pull the person aside privately and directly ask if you have done something to offend them. Simply ask “I saw a post and wanted to know, have I done something to make you upset?”

* Raising a conflict face-to-face makes many people uneasy. After the initial inquiry, regardless of whether the post was about you or not, then simply state,” I just wanted to make sure so we could clear the air.”

* Don’t be so quick to unfriend/unfollow. It is a nice feature to have at the click of a button, but impulsively severing friendships can cause more damage and be harder to repair.

Technology and social networks have connected everyone in so many amazing ways. It has also changed how we communicate, interpret and interact creating positive and negative impacts.

 

Abigail R. C. McManus M.S Negotiation and Conflict Management

Apprentice

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What goes Wrong after “I Do”? – Tips on How to Not Become Apart of the 50 Percent

wed-default-icon1According to the American Psychological Association, “40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States divorce.” Twelve weeks from now I will be getting married; therefore this statistic could be discouraging. My mother married once before my dad, and she often says, “No one enters into a marriage thinking they will get a divorce.” I have thought a lot this week about what having a good marriage means and why a couple might resort to divorce, and I compiled a list below.

  • Communication- Majority of the reasons that I will provide for why couples divorce, all come back to communication. I learned in school that when people stop talking that is when the issues arise. People are not mind readers, so if a couple stops talking with one another, there is no way of knowing what their partner is thinking. Lack of communication is a breeding ground for conflict; therefore, I have always stressed open communication with my fiancé. We make a point to catch up on one another’s day, talk issues through, and constantly keep communication channels open.
  • Trust- A lack of trust can destroy a relationship. While I recognize trust also requires a certain level of vulnerability, and if someone has hurt you in the past, this can be especially difficult. A marriage will only be successful if you trust your partner. I took a lot more time to trust than my fiancé because I was hurt in the past, but I found that once I allowed myself to be exposed, our relationship ran much smoother.
  • Rushing- Many couples may get divorced because they rushed into marriage. Women worry about their biological clock, men may feel aging pressure as well. Couples do not take the time to get to know one another and take the position that they will figure it out as they go, which isn’t always the best route to take. Although, I’m sure there are exceptions. I think it is important to understand the person you are committing to and not shy away from the tough topics. When my fiancé and I say, “I do” we will have been dating eight years, we started when we were seventeen and eighteen. We essentially had to grow up together, and we each had to adjust to one another changing, as neither of us are the same people we were as teenagers.
  • Expectations- Humans have expectations for people and their relationships. When a significant other, the relationship, or both, don’t live up to the hopes placed on them, things fall apart rather quickly. My fiancé and I have spent a lot of time discussing this topic. We both feel a way to avoid failing to live up to standards, is to be confident with who we are as individuals, and to check consistently in on one another’s needs and wants.

While there are more than four reasons why people may resort to divorce, these were the ones I thought to be the most important. My fiancé and I are not, like my mother said, entering into matrimony with divorce in mind. We are not even entering into marriage thinking it is an option. He and I have talked extensively on this topic, and we both established that should we start having issues we will continuously communicate and if need be, attend counseling. While it may seem as though we have a negative outlook, I think it is always best to have a game plan for future events that could occur.

 

Abigail Clark, M.S Negotiation and Conflict Management

Apprentice

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When Good and Poor Work Ethics Collide- Addressing the Ethic’s Dilemma

Lazy-Coworker-BlogI have a memory from about ten years ago of a snowstorm that hit Maryland. The snow touched most of the state and especially the northern part of Maryland where it hit hardest. I lived in this part of the state with my family. At the end of our long, gravel driveway where snow accumulated it would take my Dad and neighbor several hours to dig us out. During this particular snow, my Dad, who leaves for work at 4:00 in the morning, was unable to drive his truck up the driveway. So what did my Dad do? He called and asked a co-worker to come pick him up and take him to work. I watched from my bedroom window in the early hours of the morning as my Dad walked through the snow, up to the main road to catch a ride. I can recall thinking, why doesn’t he just call out? But, that’s not my Dad. I have always been impressed by his work ethic, a trait he has subtly instilled in me over the course of my life.

Since the start of the workplace series, I have been reflecting on my work experience over the past ten years, beginning with when I filled out my first W-2 at the age of fifteen. I determined that one of my biggest pet peeves in every experience I have had was when a co-worker lacked a strong work ethic.

What is a strong work ethic?

Amelia Jenkins a contributor on Chron.com identifies five factors that exhibit a strong work ethic, “Integrity”, “Sense of Responsibility”, “Emphasis on Quality”, “Discipline”, and “Sense of Teamwork”. Our work ethic is about personal values and what we believe to be most important. Most of these factors are self-explanatory, but “emphasis on quality” Amelia Jenkins mentions is a worker’s ability to provide quality work rather than just delivering the bare minimum.

When a colleague demonstrates a poor work ethic such as consistently showing up late, not meeting deadlines, or slacking off on work, other employees may become annoyed, angry, and resentful. Why is this? Because our definition and values are different. When our work ethic values clash, then these feelings arise. For me, the thing that bothers me the most is when a co-worker consistently makes excuses for why they have been unable to complete their work, rather than admitting they do not know how to do it or that they were procrastinating.

So how can one co-worker address another who is exhibiting a poor work ethic?

When co-workers show a poor work ethic, I have approached them and asked what they are finding most difficult. If they say they are struggling with a problem I have dealt with before, I show him or her how to work through it; however, if it is a problem I have never had before, I find someone else who can assist them.

Ashley Miller from globalpost.com suggests, “No one wants to come across as a goody two-shoes, but there’s usually no harm in addressing your concerns directly with your co-worker in a polite, professional manner. “ A fellow employee may be more willing to change their behavior and less likely to hold a grudge if you, for example, say, “Hey Nancy, I noticed you have been getting to work late recently, I wanted to check in with you to make sure everything is okay?” When you acknowledge the poor behavior in a non-confrontational way, your co-worker will be aware that s/he’s conduct is being noted and may be more likely to get to work on time. If something is occurring to prevent the employee from getting to work on time, then the issue can be brought up and addressed. However, it is imperative that the discussion be done in private that way your co-worker is more likely to be receptive.

Frances Burks from Chron.com advises, “Find out if your coworker understands how to complete his assigned tasks when you discuss work-ethic problems with him.” If a co-worker is struggling to meet deadlines, it may be wrong to assume that s/he are lazy or do not care. Instead, verify that they understand what is being asked of them. If the problem is they do not have the skill level to complete their assigned tasks, suggest they talk with a manager to obtain the necessary training needed. Do not take on the tasks yourself, by doing that you, as the employee will only grow more resentful.

Finally, Ashley Miller recommends, “Talking to your supervisor in a [concerned and kind] manner provides him with the opportunity to address your concerns and shows that you are dedicated to the success of your workplace.” A discussion with your supervisor should be a last resort after you have spoken with your co-worker regarding her/his behavior and nothing has changed. If the issue requires you to approach your boss, you might start the conversation with ‘I have a concern I need to address with you regarding my co-worker’.

For me, when I feel riled about my work ethic clashing with someone’s lack of work ethic, I now make a point of speaking with my co-workers rather than jumping to conclusions about what is causing their work ethic to lack. I have found that by talking with my coworkers directly in a calm and collected fashion, that most issues get resolved. Now anytime I receive praise for my strong work ethic, I always think of my Dad and how he showed me what it means to be a hard worker.

Abigail Clark,

M.S Negotiation and Conflict Management

Intern

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