March 21, 2013

People who have a pattern of creating or increasing conflict with others can be characterized as people with ‘high-conflict personalities.’ With these individuals, the issue in dispute doesn’t cause the tension; rather, the individual’s personality causes the tension. People with high conflict personalities may have underlying personality disorders, or traits of a personality disorder. In this session experts will identify high conflict patterns of behaviour, provide information on common personality disorders, and discuss legal considerations and dispute resolution techniques relevant to dealing with conflict in the workplace.

    • Behaviours, patterns & disorders: What behaviours or patterns of behaviour often bring about conflict in the workplace? Do people who exhibit these behaviours necessarily have personality disorders? What is a personality disorder (from a medical/psychological perspective)? What are the most common personality disorders? How do the most common personality disorders manifest themselves in the workplace? Are people with certain personality disorders likely to be involved in more conflict than others? What are standard clinical treatments for personality disorders? What is the likelihood of someone with a personality disorder significantly changing his or her conflict-inducing patterns of behaviour?
    • Human rights law: Have Canadian adjudicators recognized personality disorders as disabilities under human rights legislation? What is the ‘social model’ of disability accepted by the Supreme Court of Canada and how does it differ from the ‘medical model’ of disability? What are the implications of the ‘social model’ of disability for recognition of personality disorders as disabilities under human rights legislation? Assuming that a worker’s personality disorder were found to be a disability at adjudication, would maintaining the employment of a person who repeatedly causes workplace conflict constitute undue hardship? What if the employee were committed to treatment?
    • Conflict resolution: Is it necessary to identify whether a worker has a high-conflict personality or a personality disorder before determining the best approach to resolving conflict stemming from the worker’s behaviour? When and how should management approach an individual thought to be causing workplace conflict? When and how should the union approach a member whose behaviour is thought to be causing conflict with other members? What kinds of responses can calm a hostile conversation? What is the difference between ‘coaching’ and ‘counselling’ employees and why is it important to adopt a counselling approach to employees who exhibit signs of a high conflict personality? What remedies can a union seek through the grievance process if a member of management is believed to be causing workplace conflict because of a high conflict personality?