News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search


E-mail Can Suppress Workplace Conflict

E-mail is being used to deal with power relations and personal animosities in the workplace by suppressing conflict, says Derek Wallace, lecturer in academic and professional writing and communications at Victoria University of Wellington.

Dr Wallace is studying e-mail as part of the Language in the Workplace Project run by the School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies.

He gives the example of an employee using e-mail to communicate with her manager so as "not to have to cope with the boss's body language".

"E-mail is allowing people to manage their hierarchical or personal relationships by giving them a way of avoiding the physical brunt of these relations, and therefore of tolerating them. From behind their screens they can communicate coolly over the top of their underlying tensions," he says.

According to Dr Wallace, this is not necessarily a bad thing. "It may enable the organisation's work to continue in the face of inevitable conflicts," he says.

But there can also be disadvantages.

"In the long term, e-mail may prevent the forging of the kind of sustainable relationships needed for dynamic interaction and innovation in the organisation. People may end up going through the motions if they become reliant on e-mail rather than always choosing appropriately from the full range of communicational resources available to them."

E-mail also achieves the suppression of conflict, Dr Wallace says, by increasing the opportunities for employees to have some communicational input, but at the same time often obscuring whether their superiors have taken any notice of this input.

"The ease of reply and the chatty tone often characteristic of e-mail can give people the sense of participating in the organisation's affairs but without necessarily giving them any more of a say in matters of importance. For example, it's relatively easy using e-mail for superiors to thank people collectively for their input without being held to account over whether or not they act on it."

© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Howard Davis Review: Reclaiming The N-Word - Spike Lee's BlacKkKlansman

Black resistance to institutional racism in the US has a long, tangled, and traumatic intellectual history. Although we may have assumed much too easily that white supremacists like David Duke had become marginalised as a political force, in reality they never really disappeared ... More>>

Howard Davis Review: The Minstrel in The Gallery - Sam Hunt's Selected Poems

Perhaps the most striking aspect of Sam Hunt's poetry is its quality of urgent authenticity. Encountering this latest compilation, the reader is immediately struck by its easy accessibility, tonal sincerity, and lack of linguistic pretension ... More>>

A Matter Of Fact: Truth In A Post-Truth World

How do we convincingly explain the difference between good information and misinformation? And conversely, how do we challenge our own pre-conceived notions of what we believe to be true? More>>


Scoop Review Of Books: The Road To Unfreedom

Valerie Morse: Yale professor of history Tim Snyder publishes a stunning account of the mechanisms of contemporary Russian power in US and European politics. In telling this story he presents both startling alarms for our own society and some mechanisms of resistance. More>>




  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland