Emotion Behaviour Theories and Tools in Negotiation Case Study Introduction Kelly, Suzanne and Mark, (respectively, Canadian, British and Canadian citizens) are three Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs) employed by the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET) in Soto, Japan. The JET program was designed by the Japanese government to improve its English language education through the exchange of international teachers. This exchange would also foster an understanding at the municipal level of the importance and value of internationalization between different cultures.
Any workplace problems the ALTs had could be resolved with the assistance of the Conference of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR). However, CLAIR could only be involved if the host institution could not resolve the problems itself. This case study follows the development of several conflicts between the Japanese and foreign workers. This paper will identify the emotions experienced by all characters. Using tools and theories from emotional behaviour scholars, a subsequent exploration of the catalysts for such emotions will reveal underlying concerns of each participant.
Lastly, this paper will address these concerns and propose recommendations for the resolution of current and future conflicts. Before analyzing the case study, it is important to note that a comprehensive understanding of the characters’ emotions can enhance the analysis. Keith G. Allred, John S. Mallozzi, Fusaki Matsui and Christopher P. Raia, note that negotiation is an attempt between parties to manage conflict. If one considers that emotions are a prevalent component which induces conflict, then the authors’ theory that discreet emotions influence negotiation seems logical.
Discreet emotions are invoked because social interaction directs thoughts, feelings and behaviours between each party. Given this theory, an analysis of the characters’ emotional experiences will reveal their concerns which induce such emotions. Once the concerns are identified one can critically address them and propose affective solutions. ANALYSYS Exhibit A (Cross Cultural Communication Model) illustrates the activities of encoding and decoding messages in the communication process which is infused with people’s cultural backgrounds and values.
An additional problem occurs within this framework due to the complexity of the “three levels of uniqueness in human mental programming” as illustrated in Exhibit B. This diagram emphasizes the different factors that combine with culture and values which affect a person’s comprehension of the communicated message. Given that there are many cultural differences between the foreign Assistant Learning Teachers (ALTs) and the Japanese workers in the Soto office, as well as additional complexities given everyone’s different personalities, it seems logical to assume that cultural dissonance would be a fundamental problem between the two groups.
Culture impacts a person’s behaviour due to “norms” and “scripts”. Norms are formed through one’s common wisdom which represents their values that are formed by those of society. Scripts are the procedures that one should follow given a particular situation . For example, as regards the case study, the Japanese norm of committing oneself at a high level to one’s employer is demonstrated through the script of working more than the standard eight hour days (including weekends). In contrast, Kelly and the other ALTs rarely followed suit.
The emotional impact on Kelly of this dissonance between the two work ethics was her surprise at the Japanese workers’ level of commitment to their jobs. To a North American professional, Kelly’s surprise seems normal given the fact that a highly valued principle among North American firms is to place a great deal of importance on a worker’s family life. Indeed, Kelly thought that the Japanese work ethic was “absurd” because working on the weekend “left the employees with only one day a week to relax or spend time with their families. ” The Japanese employees did not think the ALTs were “very committed workers”.
For example, if the Japanese ever used all their vacation time they could risk losing their job. Perhaps they thought that the foreigners valued their time away from work more than their time spent at work. This premise would explain the emotional behaviour exhibited by Mr. Higashi when he became “suspicious” that all three ALTS were pretending to be ill in order to have a longer weekend. The fact that Kelly did not attend a pre-departure training session regarding potential problems of living in Japan as a foreigner may explain her shocked reaction to these different cultural ethics.
To complicate matters, Mr. Higashi rarely received the opportunity to become acquainted with any of the teachers, before he was promoted to his current position, because the foreigners only came to his school once a week . In his new position, which allowed him more opportunity to spend time with the ALTs, it remains to be seen if this opportunity will, in time, help him understand the differences between the Japanese and the foreign workers. The clash of cultural values is never more apparent than during the emotionally charged argument between the ALTs and Mr. Higashi regarding the two day sick leave. Mr.
Higashi expected Kelly, Mark and Suzanne to use their holiday time as sick leave which was customary for the Japanese to do “out of respect” for their fellow employees. Kelly responded to Mr. Higashi’s expectations noting that she abided by the “Canadian tradition” of using sick days instead of holiday time. Another example of cultural differences impacting the characters’ emotions is demonstrated by Kelly’s reaction to Mr. Higashi’s suggestion to her to explore traditional Japanese activities. Kelly resented Mr. Higashi for this insistence because the activities were traditionally considered a woman’s domain.
This is an example of what Tricia S. Jones and Andrea Bodtker would consider a conflict arising due to Mr. Higashi’s behaviour that influenced by his cultural background which offended Kelly who was from a more gender-equal society. It is appropriate from the perspective of Mr. Higashi to believe that Kelly would enjoy such activities; however, conflict arises because Kelly is still offended by such an assumption. Lastly, two further emotionally charged behaviours resulting from cultural dissonance include the Japanese employees’ perception of the foreigners’ ack of teamwork and issues surrounding power and social status. First, with regards to teamwork, the Japanese workers found it “difficult to work with the ALTs” because the latter never became “part of the group”. This situation existed because the foreigners were employed for a very short time and linguistic problems divided both groups. If one considers Geert Hofstede’s Four Dimensions of Cultural Difference , the individualism versus collectivism theory would be applicable in this scenario. Whereas the foreigners are more individualistic, the Japanese were more of a collectivist society.
Mark preferred to be given “free rein to do his work” (individualistic) while the Japanese emphasis on becoming “part of the group” is a more collectivist attitude. Second, the Japanese were upset that they had accumulated more than 20 years of experience in order to achieve their current occupational status only to find themselves working with a foreigner, much to their junior, who was charged with the power to instruct the former “how to do their job better”. The fact that the latter earned the same salary as the supervisors only exacerbated this problem.
Jones/Bodtker explain the negative emotional reaction to this situation in their discussion regarding conflict as a relational activity. The authors note that the relationship frames the meaning of emotional communication which impacts conflict due to power and social status of the communicators. The Japanese were upset because even though they considered their social status to be higher than that of the younger foreigners the latter had authority to counsel the former. The authors also posit that emotions are influenced by power and social status.
The Japanese’ negative emotions stem from the fact that their power and social status have been challenged by the foreigners’ seemingly superior status (unwarranted in the eyes of the former). The above two examples also illustrate how one’s values can create negative emotional behaviour. Bodtker/Jones note that due to the fact that values impact how we experience our emotions, they reveal what we value. Mr. Higashi revealed his value system when he explained that Japanese workers use holiday time in lieu of sick leave time in order to avoid insulting their co-workers.
His values were challenged when the ALTs demanded to use their sick leave time instead of holiday time. This conflict induced him to exhibit negative emotional behaviour through unfriendliness (taking Kelly’s doctor’s note without looking at it and throwing it on his desk). Andrea M. Bodtker and Jessica K. Jameson comment that emotions can reveal an issue which is personal to us. Furthermore, if one’s identity is challenged during the conflict, emotional intensity will increase. The Japanese’ identities were closely linked to their social status.
When such status is challenged, because they are forced to take advice from younger possibly less experience foreigners, their emotion becomes negative. Bodtker/Jones confirm this theory when they state that emotions, which reflect one’s identity issues, impact the conflict when one’s self-concept becomes central to the discussion. Evidence can also be found in the case study which proves that the foreigners’ emotional behaviour is affected by challenges to their value system, identity and self-concept. At first Kelly was “annoyed” that Mr.
Higashi requested her to bring in a doctor’s note for her sick leave. However, her emotional intensity increased when Mr. Higashi demanded that she use holiday time for sick leave. She became “furious” in reaction to such a request because it conflicted with her own values which considered holiday time as a right and not a privilege. She perceived Mr. Higashi’s actions as “unreasonable” because she measured his personal values against her own. Mark and Suzanne’s behaviour provides insight into their negative reaction to this dissonance between Japanese and non-Japanese value systems.
Mark “didn’t speak to [Mr. Higashi] at all” after they returned from sick leave and Suzanne called Mr. Higashi a “lunatic” for his denial of their use of vacation time. Another example of clashing value systems evoking negative emotions can be found in Kelly’s dislike of the fact that she did not see any Japanese women promoted to senior levels at the Japanese Board of Education. Furthermore, she considered Mr. Higashi’s constant suggestions to her to pursue oriented activities as “chauvinistic”. Again, the manner in which Mr. Higashi’s value system (and indeed that of the Japanese Board of
Education) viewed the role of professional female educators clashed with Kelly’s value system. Digressing from cultural and value system dissonance, another valuable tool for analysis is the application of general emotional behaviour theories to the case study. One issue to explore is the emotional impact on the foreign workers’ behaviour due to Mr. Higashi’s intensity of positive emotion exhibited towards them. At first the ALTs thought that Mr. Higashi was very friendly and helpful by offering to pick them up at the airport, arranging for their housing needs and taking them shopping .
It seems logical that Mr. Higashi would exhibit positive behaviour towards Kelly given that he “”took an instant liking to [her]” because she spoke Japanese and had lived in Japan before. However, as his friendly behaviour escalated in intensity (for example through his constant encouragement of Kelly to experience Japanese culture) Kelly became “tired of [his suggestions] and saw [them] as pressure to get involved”. Michael W. Kramer and Jon A. Hess discuss a “professionalism” which clarifies the appropriate use of emotion and its intensity in a given situation.
Too much personal involvement can create negative effects and certain emotions should never be expressed . While the ALTs appreciated Mr. Higashi’s positive interest in helping them adjust to Japanese life, the increase in his intensity and the extent of the duration of such personal involvement became problematic for the foreign workers. Indeed Mr. Higashi nurtured their careers and acted in a paternal fashion because he felt that “he knew what was best for them”. Mark’s impression of Mr. Higashi was that he acted more like a father than a supervisor.
Mark’s emotional reaction to this treatment was resentment because he did not consider himself a “group player” and “he didn’t like Mr. Higashi’s paternal attitude”. Analyzing the goals of Mr. Higashi and those of the ALTs can reveal how and why negative emotions are created. Such an analysis can reveal the parties’ underlying concerns which intensify conflict. Bodtker/Jones note that an obstacle to a party’s goals will negatively impact their emotions through a primary and secondary appraisal process. In order to explain such theory using the case study consider the following example.
Mr. Higashi would assess the ALTs’ actions first through a primary analysis: (i) do their actions impact his goals (ii) if so, does such impact help or hinder his pursuit of such goals, and (iii) does such impact also relate to his self-identification. If Mr. Higashi concludes a negative impact has, or will, occur his secondary analysis would reveal who is to blame for such impact and how likely is it that things will improve. Mr. Higashi’s promotion to his current position enhances his ability to achieve his overall goal which is to become a school principal. Because Mr.
Higashi is evaluated on his subordinates actions, he will do whatever he can to improve their performance. Such actions included arranging for the ALTs to work on projects over the holidays and visits to specific high schools and conferences. Several problematic incidents occurred during these noted actions. In one instance, Suzanne could not visit a school that Mr. Higashi had arranged because he failed to give her advance notice. In other instances, there were several times that the ALTs could not attend conferences or work on projects over the holidays because, again, the ALTs had made previous plans and Mr.
Higashi failed to give them adequate scheduling notice. Mr. Higashi’s emotional reaction to such problems was to become angry with the ALTs. Utilizing the previous theory presented by Bodtker/Jones, one could surmise that Mr. Higashi was upset because the ALTs were challenging his ability to achieve his goal. If Mr. Higashi’s professional success depended on the performance of his teachers, then he had to arrange for them to attend these conferences and help them succeed on extra projects. If they did not cooperate with his requests, then his professional evaluation could become threatened.
Bodtker/Jones explain that anger results from the interference or blockage of a desired goal. Mr. Higashi became angry when the ALTs’ inability (or his perception of their unwillingness) to cooperate blocked his goal of professional advancement and, moreover, threatened to cause the Board of Education to “lose face”. It is interesting to note that Mr. Higashi’s personal goal, which governs his reactions to the ALTs’ behaviour, was not congruent with the JET’s goals as mentioned in the introduction of this paper.
To recap, the JET’s goals were to foster an understanding of the importance and value of internationalization between different cultures. In contrast, Mr. Higashi’s goals were to improve his chances of career advancement. If the Japanese Board of Education realized this incongruence it could reexamine how its supervisors are evaluated in order to mitigate conflicts between supervisors and ALTs. The conflict surrounding these previous incidents increased in emotional intensity when one considers the ALTs’ emotional reaction to Mr. Higashi’s behaviour.
Suzanne considered Mr. Higashi “exasperating” when he first scheduled her for conferences without prior warning, and then subsequently changed his mind at the last minute and cancelled the appointment without informing her. Bodtker/Jones define the emotional behaviour of “blockage” as the reaction of one party to another party’s actions which are perceived as unfair by the former. After the numerous scheduling problems which Suzanne considered to be entirely Mr. Higashi’s fault, she “lost respect for Mr. Higashi as a manager and continually challenged his authority”.
This challenge to his authority is a form of blockage as she felt that his scheduling disorganization was placing unfair pressure on her to cancel her plans. After the argument regarding the holiday and sick leave time, Mark refused to speak to Mr. Higashi at all. This behaviour is another form of blockage which is a reaction caused by Mark’s perception that Mr. Higashi’s demand was unfair given the definitive rights provided to Mark in his employment contract. Mark’s behaviour can also be analyzed from the perspective of Madan M. Pillutla and J. Keith Murnighan’s theory regarding “spite”.
The authors note that spite originates from an anger which is designed to hurt the offending party. Not only did Mark refuse to speak to Mr. Higashi, but he also had previously refused to join Mr. Higashi for any “drinking meetings” after work. Mark’s antisocial behaviour towards Mr. Higashi could be regarded as spiteful with an intent to hurt his supervisor due to the supervisor’s constraint on Mark’s enjoyment of free reign to do his work. An analysis can also be performed from the perspective of Kelly’s emotional reaction caused by the impact of Mr. Higashi’s actions on her personal goals.
Kelly’s purpose for taking the ATL position in Japan was to improve her Japanese so that she could gain a competitive advantage when beginning her career back in Canada. As well, Kelly considered this position an opportunity to have some fun before attaining a “real” job back at home. Kelly pursued these goals by going away on most weekends to explore different surrounding Islands near Soto as well as saving her holiday time in order to explore other parts of Japan. Mr. Higashi’s demand that Kelly use her holiday time in lieu of sick leave impeded this goal because it reduced the amount of holiday time she could use.
Hence, Kelly’s emotional reaction of becoming angry with Mr. Higashi was triggered by his actions’ impact on her goals. Furthermore, one can understand why she would view the Japanese work ethic of working on weekends as absurd since her goals included to exploring the surrounding area on her weekends. The use of the Affect as Information Model (AIM), as presented by Joseph P. Forgas, can help explain some of Mr. Higashi’s emotional reactions to the ALTs’ behaviour. Forgas notes that people use their feelings as a reaction to another person or situation even though the feelings may result from a preexisting state.
In addition, Forgas notes that the AIM predicts that affect will not influence a judgment to conform to a mood congruent state when a motivated thought process occurs. Mr. Higashi’s negative judgment of the three ALTs regarding their simultaneous sick leave demonstrates this theory. Mr. Higashi was motivated to distrust the ALTs because of the many conflicts which occurred beforehand between the two parties. Therefore, regardless of his mood at the time of passing judgment, he suspected them of lying when they claimed that they had been sick.
Forgas notes that direct access processing creates low infusion of affect into judgment processing due to motivation for a particular judgment to be made. Based on this theory, one can conclude that even if Mr. Higashi had been in an extremely positive mood, the motivating factors for him to “condemn” the ALTs as “liars” would inhibit any positive affect infusion from influencing his judgment. The crucial incident of this case study is the confrontation between the ALTs and Mr. Higashi regarding the use of holiday time in lieu of sick leave.
The intensity of both parties’ emotions during this debate was quite high. Mr. Higashi was unfriendly to Kelly when she returned from being sick, Suzanne called Mr. Higashi a lunatic, Mark stopped speaking at all to Mr. Higashi and Kelly decided to contact CLAIR to seek resolution to the problem. The escalation of such emotions can be partly explained by Barbara M. Gayle and Raymond W. Preiss’ theory of recollected emotional narratives. Gayle/Preiss note that unresolved negative conflicts can trigger negative emotional responses that will frame subsequent conflicts.
That is, given that previous conflicts have occurred between Mr. Higashi and the foreigners (ie: scheduling conflicts, constant pestering to integrate into Japanese culture) when the crucial conflict began, regarding their sick leave, the ALTs already expected Mr. Higashi to be unreasonable and therefore their emotional intensity was quite high at the onset of the discussion. As their expectations are confirmed during the conflict, their emotional intensity rises. Allred / Mallozzi / Matsui / Christopher note that the emotion of anger can exert a greater influence on the negotiation process than can mood.
That is, even if the ALTs were in a positive mood when speaking with Mr. Higashi regarding this contentious issue, their anger would have overridden such affect and imposed a greater influence on the nature of the negotiations. Forgas’ theory of affect influence in negotiations complements Gayle/Preiss’ theory when explaining the negative outcome of this conflict. Forgas states that mood can influence a person’s expectations of negotiations which motivates them to be more or less cooperative. Rather than Mr.
Higashi and the ALTs calmly and respectfully discussing the issue at hand, they argued, insulted each other and escalated the need to request outside help from CLAIR. This theory begs the question: if all parties had been in a much more positive mood, would they have been more inclined to be cooperative in their discussion in order to resolve the conflict. While this paper can only hypothesize that such behaviour would occur given a positive mood, it is more important to focus on the fact that mood does affect the negotiation process and is a factor to consider when analyzing conflict and working towards a resolution.
Before moving on to recommendations based on this analysis, a short comment on negotiation theory is required. Negotiation theorists note that value creation is an integral component of any collaboration between opposing forces. Value creation is defined as the expanded benefit for all parties which is created during the negotiation process. Value is first created and then is distributed amongst all parties. The distribution process of value creation is called value allocation which is an integral component of distributive bargaining.
Value is defined as the difference between the “paying” party’s upper ceiling price and the “selling” party’s lower ceiling. The area in between both ceilings is called the zone of possible agreement (ZOPA). Value creation is important in distributive bargaining as both parties walk away better off than if they had not entered into negotiations at all. Bodtker/Sutton’s emotion theories aptly complement the emotional perspective of this negotiation theory. The authors note that negotiators who feel anger and/or low compassion for each other achieve fewer joint gains. In the case study, Mr.
Higashi and the ALTs are negotiating (albeit in an aggressive manner more akin to arguing) how best to record the sick days. The ZOPA lies between Mr. Higashi’s ceiling of recognizing all sick days as holiday time and the ALTs’ ceiling of recognizing all sick days as sick leave time. The reason that this negotiation escalated into an argument is that neither party was willing to recognize any value which could have been created during a productive distributive bargaining process. A discussion of the implications of these negotiating theories occur in the subsequent recommendation section of this paper.
RECOMMENDATIONS The preceding analysis, which identified the characters’ negative emotions revealed an understanding as to why such emotions were felt and what employee concerns existed to induce the various conflicts. Based upon the analysis, this paper will explore recommendations regarding how these conflicts could have been avoided using emotion behavioural theories, models and tools. Before discussing the recommendations, it is important to summarize the core concerns of all parties revealed in the above analysis.
Kelly experienced shock and frustration after her preconceived ideas regarding this employment experience were contradicted within the first 6 months of her arrival. Cultural dissonance caused confusion and offense when different scripts, norms, principles and issues relating to power and social status clashed. Both Kelly and Mr. Higashi experienced anger when their respective goals were threatened to be hindered by the opposing parties’ actions. The ALTs felt annoyance and resentment by Mr. Higashi’s intensity and duration of positive emotion.
They also experienced frustration by Mr. Higashi’s ineffective management skills. Lastly, the increasing intensity of all parties’ negative emotions impeded any type of resolution regarding the crucial conflict around sick leave and holiday time. The recommendations proposed below are based on the understanding that the skill of emotional management is important in the professional workplace. Bodtker/Jameson note that conflict becomes uncomfortable because emotion is involved. One can mitigate this discomfort by understanding emotion’s role in conflict.
If one can identify the clues that emotions provide regarding employee concerns, one can resolve conflict easier – possibly even before it arises. The JET officials need to initiate procedures during the hiring and training process of foreign workers in order to mitigate problems that occur due to cultural dissonance. This issue is important for all firms, no matter the industry, because the trend of globalization requires organizations to incorporate a sensitivity to cultural difference. Pat Sniderman confirms his point noting that learning to appreciate cultural differences is the key to the success of firms with global operations. Dan Ondrack posits that one should hire people with high cultural adaptability – that is, those who have a high tolerance for ambiguity and are open to discovering new opportunities. The JET organizers should bear this adaptability criteria in mind when evaluating potential candidates. The hiring committee can also set up policies such as mandatory training for foreigners (as opposed to the optional one which Kelly ignored) which would create a more productive transition for foreigners arriving in Japan.
Once policies are established to mitigate cultural dissonance problems, Jeffrey Pfeffer notes that a company should consider “fit” as a hiring criteria. Such an idea includes hiring people who have a high valence towards the company’s policies. Candidates which the JET hiring committee suspects will not adapt to its cultural policies should be reconsidered. Once suitable workers are hired, David Stauffer notes that policies need to be reinforced constantly. Cultural tolerance can be achieved by proper recruitment, selection and socialization of productive policies.
Once foreign workers are hired and trained, the JET or CLAIR could hold monthly mandatory seminars regarding issues such as language barriers. With the proper training, Kelly’s expectations of her experiences may have been better aligned with reality thereby avoiding a cultural shock upon her arrival and integration into Japanese society. Conversely, proper training for the Japanese supervisors would have prepared Mr. Higashi for the differences in work ethics between the Japanese and foreign workers.
If the Japanese hirers had been more discerning in their hiring process of supervisors, they may have discovered that Mr. Higashi’s goals were not necessarily congruent with the JET program. A revision of the evaluation process for supervisors could aid in this alignment. Mr. Higashi’s goal was to improve his ALTs performance (upon which his evaluation was based) in order to further his career. Because the goal of the JET program was focused around international exchange a more prudent evaluation of Mr. Higashi’s work could instead focus on the quality of teamwork and ooperative efforts between the domestic and foreign workers. Many of the Japanese and foreign workers were upset by the different work ethics of both groups. If Mr. Higashi had been aware of such concerns, he could have taken aggressive measures to stop any problems from escalating. Gayle/Preiss note that it’s important for superiors to discuss conflict as soon as they notice it as well as to establish high quality leader/member relationships. Such a goal requires an understanding of how all parties view organizational equality and justice.
The Japanese workers perceived the disparate salaries of themselves and the younger foreigners as an inequality. Bodtker/Jameson note that conflict stems from a moral stance based on one’s values. Therefore, an understanding of one’s values can aid a mediator in understanding the justice required to satisfy all members in opposition. If Mr. Higashi had taken the time to recognize the value that the ATLs placed on personal relaxation time, he may have been able to explain this difference to his Japanese colleagues (who rarely use relaxation time).
This explanation would have created a greater perception of the moral stance that supports each cultures’ differences. Bodtker/Jameson note that revealing parties’ attitudes and behaviours to themselves can transform the contradiction between conflicting parties. Furthermore, they note that if one ignores the conflict structure then the conflict will not be transformed into something meaningful and productive. A simple resolution could have included Mr. Higashi encouraging all the workers to articulate their confusion.
Conflict may have then been avoided through the dissipation of negative emotion originally created by the confusion of clashing value systems. Due to the fact that Mr. Higashi constantly cancelled conferences without informing the ALTs and consistently gave them inaccurate advice about living in Japan, the ALTs lost respect for him as a competent manager. If Mr. Higashi had taken the time to provide reliable managerial support, the high quality leader/member relationship may have remained intact during their crucial conflict thereby creating a more collaborative and less combative relationship.
Many of the emotional reactions the foreign workers held toward their supervisor were caused by Mr. Higashi’s weak managerial skills. Recommendations for this problem could include the JET program initiating proper training for their supervisors in general managerial skills. Furthermore, an open dialogue between the ALTs and CLAIR could have been encouraged whereby the former are regularly polled regarding concerns they may have with their supervisors. This information gathering process could help identify and correct skill weaknesses in supervisors before they become extensive problems.
As previously discussed, regarding distributive bargaining, successful negotiations require the creation and distribution of value to all participants in order to satisfy everyone. Pillultla/Murnighan note that participants who perceive that a proposed offer is unfair will feel anger and may spitefully reject plausible recommendations. The ALTs and Mr. Higashi never even progressed to the stage at which resolutions could be discussed. Simply put, the ALTs felt that Mr. Higashi’s demands were unfair, their anger intensified, Mr.
Higashi refused to discuss the issue any further and the ALTs acted in a spiteful manner through their insulting behaviour (name calling and ignoring Mr. Higashi). Had Mr. Higashi proposed a compromise, there is a possibility the ALTs would have still rejected it simply out of spite. If Mr. Higashi had listened and observed the negative emotional reaction he was receiving from the ALTs, he may have realized that they felt his demand was unfair. Such a realization may have prompted him to discuss with them why they felt this way. In fact, the ATLs did express to him their perceptions of inequality, but Mr. Higashi refused to listen or understand their concerns). Cognitive appraisals of an opponent’s actions (Mr. Higashi’s failure to compromise, the ALTs insults towards him) can induce anger. This negative emotion will limit both the creation of value and the distribution of such during negotiations. Allred / Mallozzi / Matsui / Christopher discuss the importance of one seeking to correct errors previously made in judging another’s responsibility for behaviour.
That is, if the ALTs had sought to understand the pressures that were affecting Mr. Higashi’s behaviour they might have reduced the intensity of their reactions. Mr. Higashi had a responsibility to all employees (which included the Japanese workers) to ensure that equality prevailed in the workplace. The ALTs had already insulted their Japanese colleagues by not working on weekends as well as expecting to use their sick leave instead of holiday time – both considered non-acceptable Japanese behaviour. Mr. Higashi felt pressure to maintain a sense of equality amongst his employees.
The previously mentioned authors further note that one needs to seek to understand the factors that lay beyond the control of their counterpart which may affect the latter’s behaviour. If the ALTs had sought to understand Mr. Higashi’s underlying pressures, they may have realized that his reasons for making this demand not a personal attack directed towards them but merely a means of maintaining equality in the workplace. Such understanding may have induced the three employees to reacted less aggressively and more cooperatively with Mr. Higashi.
An respected philosophy in distributive bargaining is called “log-rolling”. This tool is defined as each party “winning” on their most important issue (which is usually different from each other). If this tool had been used in the case study it is possible that the parties may have come to a compromise whereby Mr. Higashi could have maintained equality amongst employees and the ALTs would not have lost a large portion of their vacation time. For example, the ALTs could have agreed to use one sick day and one holiday for their sick leave.
This compromise would have allowed the ALTs to win on their issue of maintaining as much holiday time as possible while aiding Mr. Higashi’s efforts to maintain workplace equality. Of course, this compromise could have only occurred if both parties had taken the time to recognize the most important issue of the other party. Future challenges to the relationship between Mr. Higashi and the ALTs must also be understood in order to prevent future conflicts from occurring. Gayle/Preiss note that emotional intensity expressed in a conflict may shape future responses.
That is, people have vivid memories of negative-emotion relational experiences. These memories can inhibit their ability to engage in future conflict without recalling this negative memory and therefore creating negative expectations for future conflict. Considering the fact that the foreign workers and Mr. Higashi have had this negative emotional conflict, there is a high probability that future conflicts will be more highly charged with emotion simply due to the memory of this previous experience. If the participants understand this aspect of human nature they can mitigate future problems.
This can be accomplished by discussing their negative emotional feelings with each other after the first conflict occurs. Such a discussion would release participants’ emotions of anger and spite, replacing the negative memory with a more cooperative resolution. The “affect in negotiation” theory states that positive affect leads to an increase in trust between opposing parties which results in greater information sharing and joint outcomes. Furthermore, an opponent’s positive affect is more likely to influence other parties to act more cooperatively.
Acceptance of this theory compels parties to try to reduce negative emotion before and/or during conflict. Such a goal emphasizes the need to understand how and why emotions affect conflict resolution. In summary, emotions play an important role in terms of identifying workplace problems and understanding the underlying employee concerns. One can enhance the resolution of conflict when the various tools and theories, employed in the analysis of this case study, are used in the workplace. Successful conflict resolution stems from a deeper understanding of how emotions can act as a hindrance.
As noted in the discussion of Bodtker/Sutton’s recommendations, training can help employees and employers understand their own personal biases and their accompanying negative emotions. The collaborative and cooperative environment created through such awareness is so highly compelling that proper training can motivate professionals to seek to understand how emotions affect working relationships. The insightful understanding of how and why emotions affect conflict resolution and the proper use of this information can create extremely cooperative working environments no matter how large the divide between cultures, biases or communication.
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