Socially rejected employees often strike back


Those who don't feel accepted by their peers tend to act with hostility toward others.

If you've experienced conflict among your employees, you might want to think about finding a quick resolution. According to a new study, leaving those feelings unaddressed could lead to bigger problems than just bickering. So it's best to get to the root of the conflict-quickly.

Researchers found that people who feel socially rejected are more likely to see others' actions as hostile and are more likely to behave with hostility toward people they've never met. The study was carried out by researchers at the University of Kentucky and published in the January issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Study participants completed a personality test and were given bogus feedback about the results. A third of the participants were told the results suggested they would probably end up alone later in life. Researchers then asked this group to read a personal essay supposedly written by another participant. Participants who'd been told they would live a lonely life perceived the author's actions as hostile and gave a more negative reaction than those in the control groups.

In another experiment, researchers told some participants they'd live a lonely life, then they asked them to participate in a reaction-time computer game against an unseen opponent. During the game, the loser of each trial was forced to listen to white noise, the intensity level and duration of which was set by the winner. Those told they'd live a lonely life set the white noise at a higher level than those in a control group.

So what does this mean for your practice? Encouraging team members to communicate openly with each other can lead to a more harmonious, focused practice. Strive to squash conflicts before they get out of hand and encourage team members to avoid gossiping. Running a practice is a team effort, so make sure all employees are working toward the same goal.

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Angela Elia, BS, LVT, CVT, VTS (ECC)
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