Mini-talk given by Ludici Nunag, BCBP Tagbilaran, during the Ladies Breakout Forum, 30th NAC, Davao, Apr 24, 2010, in response to Beng Pelaez’ talk on “Dealing with Conflicts in the Workplace”.

As renewed Christians, we ought to live in this world, as Beng Pelaez mentioned, as shrewd as serpents and simple as doves (Mt. 10:16). So when conflicts come knocking at your office or business door, how do you deal with them? Let me share with you two ways that, from my experience, minimize conflicts in the workforce.

First, prepare yourselves for the challenge. Get to know the culture of the workplace, the people you will be working with, the functions and responsibilities of the office and its staff, and the service they provide.

When I applied for a position in a government office, I was made aware of the reputation then of some of the staff – pasaway, late coming to office, escape artists in the sense that palaging uma-alis na hindi magsasabi, sometimes nag-aaway sa mismong office na parang nasa palenke, etc. By the way, these behaviors are not uncommon to find in offices, whether public or private. Against this backdrop, I studied the nature and function of the office and reviewed once more the Code of Conduct of Government Employees and the Code of Ethical Standards of the Court Employee, other related materials, and the duties and responsibilities of each of the staff.

When I was appointed to the position, the first thing I did was to call all of the staff to a meeting where I presented to them my working style and discussed with them the relevant rules and regulations of the Civil Service for their understanding and compliance. I believe that it is always good to begin working in an environment where everyone understands where they are coming from. No surprises and no speculations. Everything is laid on the table where comments and suggestions for better working relationships can be considered and worked out.

Unlike Beng, I am a Bisaya from Cagayan de Oro City, thus, I speak the dialect of Boholanos. Yet, I have to understand their culture to touch base with them. The Boholanos are gentle and kind people with sensitive souls. They do not like confrontations. I, on the other hand, speak directly, and do not hesitate to confront anyone who may commit infractions or fail to do his/her task. While I discuss the mistake made, I focus on the error or failure rather than the erring person and implement measures to prevent repetition.

Thus, when I handled a meeting of the supervisors of our resort, Amarela, in one of many trips to Bohol while Doy was away, I right away informed them of my direct style of talking and apologized for any hurt that might result in the process of discussing some sensitive areas.

Of course, things I would want to change in the office and in the resort did not take place right away. But the small improvements gave me hope and elated me. St. James writes: “Consider it all joy, my brothers, whenever you encounter various trails for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-5)

St. Josemaria Escriva, in his homily “Passionately Loving the World” dated October 8, 1967, inspires me even more to complement my faith with my work because this is also one place where I will find my sanctification. He said that, “wherever your yearnings, your work, your affections are, that is the place for your daily encounter with Christ. It is in the midst of the most material things of the earth that we must sanctify ourselves, serving God and all people.”

The second way involves the use of temperate language. It is also equally important for us, renewed Christian women, to use temperate language when confronted with vexing situations in the office or in the business world. Our speech affects the mood and the relationships in the workplace.

As I said earlier, I tend to be abrupt with words or brutally frank in confronting people, using the excuse that I am just telling the truth. But the BCBP teachings and relevant spiritual readings have helped me a lot to tame my tongue. The popular columnist and author Dr. Harold J. Sala summarized it well when he wrote that “St. Paul advises us to ‘speak the truth in love’ and it is the last phrase ‘in love’ that demands that we learn when to be silent (Eph 4:15, Gideon Bible; cf: Eph. 4:29, New American Bible). All you say may be true, but when it is not spoken in love, save your breath and the feelings of another. Before you speak, you are the master of your words; but once you have spoken, they become master over you. ‘By words, said Christ, you will be acquitted and by your words, you will be condemned.’” (Mt. 12:37 NAB) {The Phil. Starweek, The Sunday Magazine, March 16, 2009].

Ladies, I still struggle in becoming the other Christ in the workforce. Hopefully, with the added wisdom that I will get from your comments and sharings this morning and a lot of prayers, I will draw nearer to that goal.

God bless us, our families and our BCBP community.

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