Workplace Stress: A Familiar Story About Conflict Coaching

Workplace Discrimination - Raymond the Wolf.

I had a consultation with Raymond The Wolf to see if conflict coaching would be a good fit. Raymond worked in demolition (essentially blowing down condemned houses) and was having trouble in his workplace. He made good money for his talent, but felt disrespected by his co-workers. Partly because he wasn’t college educated, and partly because of racial discrimination. Raymond was breaking down; his anxiety in the morning gave him nausea and the stress about how to fix it kept him up at night.

Raymond gave me some background information. The owner of the company, as well as several of the managers, were Pigs. Raymond was one of only a few Wolves in the office. There were also Foxes and Chickens, but Raymond felt that the Wolves were intentionally kept on the bottom of the hierarchy. Just one Wolf was in management, with the rest in manual or administrative roles. He talked about how these numbers were perpetuated, year after year.

I asked Raymond to share an incident that would help illuminate hisfrustration and despair. Raymond had been friendly with a manager and, months ago, sat down with him to talk about the hostile atmosphere. He brought along his friend Tabitha The Wolf who shared her personal experiences of discrimination at the company. The manager seemed shocked and empathetic. He told them that no one had ever made these sorts of complaints before; he would look into it personally. That evening, Raymond and Tabitha celebrated at a local bar. They ran into a former co-worker, Casey The Wolf, who had quit years before. They shared their success story with Casey, proud that they were standing up for themselves and the other Wolves. Casey shook his head and told them about similar complaints he made to the same manager and how nothing ever happened. Raymond was angry, confused...and devastated. Not only did management know about the discrimination, they lied and said that it had never happened before, erasing the complaints of previous employees.

We talked more about this incident and the manager’s betrayal. Ultimately Raymond and I decided to work together; Conflict Coaching was a good fit for him and his circumstances. By exploring the workplace dynamics and uncovering how Raymond’s personal history and identity issues played a part, we could come up with options that would enable him to move forward and find a sense of peace at this office or another.  

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