FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii--Different personalities in the workplace sometimes clash, or even workplace friends argue; as a result, this negative behavior can lead to bickering, hatred or discord. Other times employees are dealing with insults or repeated unwelcoming behavior and unreasonable actions aimed at intimidating, humiliating, degrading or undermining an employee or group of employees.

Being able to manage negative feelings effectively in the workplace involves opening the lines of communications as well as improving the ability to diffuse intense situations.

Fortunately, the Honolulu District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Special Emphasis Program Committee (SEPC) led by Raelene Like, District Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) advisor participated in the Feb.15 EEO and Conflict Resolution training designed to teach federal government employees the necessary skills to improve communication and manage workplace conflicts more efficiently.

"The SEPC serves as the advisory committee to the District commander, EEO officer, and senior leadership," Like explained. "The program promotes equal opportunity in the hiring, advancement, training, and treatment of targeted groups and advocates changes to overcome barriers restricting equal employment for women, minorities, and individuals with disabilities."

Hosted by the Pacific Ocean Chapter, Blacks in Government (BIG) the training featured three sessions covering Miracles of Communication, Dealing with Bullies in the Workplace and Mediation.

"The (BIG) mission emphasizes the promotion of programs and activities for advising and encouraging educational opportunities for all members and students," Karen Reed Honolulu District SEPC member said. "The welfare of all members is promoted through equality, excellence, and opportunities in an environment of nondiscrimination in the Pacific Region. They strive to eliminate discrimination and racist acts against all people in all sectors of government and work with other minorities and organizations to create an alliance improving employee relations."

Local Oahu resident and BIG Instructor Willie E. Jones kicked off Miracles of Communication training, by saying the number one asset everyone has above and beyond an educational degree is their ability to communicate.
A first place winner at the Toastmasters International World Champion of Public Speaking competition, beating 270,000 eligible members in more than 8,500 clubs in 87 countries of the world is no stranger to communicating and explained body language, non-verbal communication, and rapport are all forms of communication.

"The goal of communication is the ability to convey information and the understanding of that information between people," Jones said. "Effective communication skills are fundamental to success and learning how we can improve our communication has many benefits."

Jennifer Eugenio, Honolulu District SEPC member takeaway for the first session was clear communication is the basis of resolving a conflict.

"Many times conflict starts from miscommunication," Eugenio said. "Sometimes what we hear is misinterpreted because of poor communication skills, poor listening skills, or even because of our own biases. It is important to listen through the biases that each of us has and listen to the facts. If we can get rid of the emotions and biases, we can look at the facts of the situation and come up with solutions."

Honolulu District SEPC member, Maydean Martin, agreed with Eugenio, adding that being a better listener means being present, gaining common ground, and making eye contact.

Shortly after the first training session Bullying in the Workplace followed stressing how bullying manifests itself leaving a negative impact on the readiness of an organization.

"The training gave an overview of what a bully is, the different types of bullies and tips for dealing with bullies," Reed said reflecting on the training. "These tips can be used in the workplace and my personal life as well."

In the last module of the training, participants received a crash course in EEO/Mediation and participated in an interactive exercise illustrating how unconscious bias and dealing with conflict impacts people.

"Its normal behavior to make decisions in life based on childhood, life experience and values," said Yvette Scott-Butler, BIG instructor. "On the job and in people careers, these unconscious biases can affect hiring, assignments, promotions, evaluations, or dismissals."

In the end, the SEPC members agreed it was beneficial to attend the training and learn about the BIG organization.

"BIG put on a great conference, teaching us the many aspects of everyday communication and conflict resolution," Eugenio concluded. "I learned a lot from the seminars, and I would recommend their pieces of training for everyone."



For information on the Pacific Chapter Blacks in Government go to http://www.pacificoceanbig.net/