Yesterday evening at a Dutch train yard a 28 year old employer of a cleaning company has been seriously injured after a college doused him with petrol and then set him on fire.
Don’t be alarmed. This is headline of an article from a Dutch newspaper dated 4 November 1999 and describes a conflict that had completely escaladed. But still to this day I sometimes think about that article. That news has made such an impression on me.
At that time I was working with a college I didn’t like very much. And when I saw the news on TV, the only thing I thought was: That’s horrible, I thought I had it bad.
It seems that conflicts at work happen more and more. Everybody has had a conflict at work. Think of that colleague that always gossips or of that boss who is always blunt. People underestimate how much irritation and frustration a conflict cause. Because, without you realising it, a conflict can really get under your skin. And what happens if you take all that irritation and frustration home?
Usually a conflict is never about the conflict itself, but about what lies underneath. It can be a about someone’s values, feelings or a line that has been crossed. Someone might not feel respected of heard. End so on.
If you have a conflict with a colleague or boss, try to find out what lies underneath that conflict. Because if you have found that, you have solved the conflict. And then you can have a conversation about the real issue.
I wonder what ever happened to the man who set his colleagues on fire …