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University of Colorado at Boulder Communication Conflict Discussion

University of Colorado at Boulder Communication Conflict Discussion

Question Description

Today you will be introduced to the conflict that arises in the restaurant. Get ready, things unfold quickly! You will be presented with the narrative of each of the three employees involved. As with yesterday’s exercise, you will read through scenario and then use the prompts located at the end as the basis for your discussion post.

The Restaurant – The Conflict!

The Conflict:

You receive a phone call from Mel telling you that you need to get to the restaurant as soon as possible. A fight of some kind has broken out between David and Nate. Mel is unsure what set it off, but yelling could be heard coming from the kitchen. When Mel went to check on what was happening she found David pointing a butcher’s knife at Nate and telling him he was “a homophobic piece of garbage who needed to keep his mouth shut.” The argument continued on for a short time growing louder and louder, eventually clearing the restaurant of its customers. Nate walked out the back door and David was sitting in the front of the restaurant waiting for you to show up. No one was physically attacked or injured, but everyone was upset. You’ve approached Nate, David, and Maria to hear their perspectives of what took place. You pull them individually into your office to hear their side of events and this is what they tell you:

Nate’s Story:

David and Maria need to be fired. Maria was late, yet again, this morning. I did not have time to discuss this with her when she showed up, but found time to approach her during a lull before the lunch service. I told Maria that this was unacceptable and that if I had my way, today would be her last shift. I was going to speak with you when you came in this afternoon about it. During the lunch rush, Maria fell behind and I went to check on the status of an order. I asked when she would have it and she didn’t respond. Then out of nowhere, David is in my face threatening me with a knife. He’s hurling all kinds of profanity at me, and well, I don’t have to take that from some punk. I know how to run a restaurant and I’m in the one in charge here. I have no idea what set David off; he’s typically a good worker apart from his attitude and that noise he plays on the radio, but I cannot work in an environment where people disrespect me, let alone threaten me. I should have called the cops, but I know you will handle this in an appropriate way.

David’s Story:

All morning Nate was on Maria about this and that, saying totally messed up stuff. Nate sprinted out of the kitchen to scream at Maria in the parking lot before her shift. Yes, she was late again, but I caught a few words of the convo and it was totally out of line, including shots about her being gay. This dude still thinks he’s king of McNugget land. Even though I already had the kitchen prepped, Nate is in vulture mode, just hovering, trying screw with Maria, asking her what she’s working on, even though I’ve already told him things are solid. Come on! At this point you think I’m waiting on Maria to get things ready? He knows better. Anyway, we get busy, Maria gets behind like usual. Nothing terrible, but the next thing I know, Nate is in the kitchen calling her names and saying a bunch of derogatory stuff. I lost it. I remember turning around to tell Nate to shut up and get out of my kitchen, but I don’t really remember much after that until I found myself sitting out in the front with Tara asking if Mel called you. Nate needs to go, man.

Maria’s Story:

I’m not sure what happened to be honest. Nate saw me walking through the parking lot this morning and before I could enter the building, he ran outside and started shouting at me about not wanting this job and being a bad person. I need this job. I know I have a hard time getting here, but I like this gig. It’s just it takes me 30 minutes to walk here. I tried to explain that I was sorry and he just told me to shut up and get inside. I go in, but David’s already got everything prepped, so I’m trying to figure out what to do. Nate just keeps coming into the kitchen telling me that I better get working. David tells Nate that everything is under control and Nate starts saying things under his breath. I can see David get mad, but he just repeats to Nate that the kitchen is ready and we are waiting for orders. Then about an hour later we get slammed. I’m trying to keep up and then Nate is suddenly in my face yelling at me. That’s when David got in Nate’s face telling him that he needed to shut up and yelling at me to finish my orders. Nate tried to say that he was the boss and David just went full berserker, telling Nate to get out of the kitchen. I’m not sure he even realized he had the knife in his hand. But wow, David let him have it, including for comments Nate makes about Mel and Tara.

Discussion Prompt

You now have three different stories of what led to the confrontation in the kitchen. For this post I want you to discuss:

  • As the manger hearing these explanations, what is this conflict about?
  • What is the major concern of each party (Nate, David, and Maria)?
  • What conflict style (based on the Thomas-Kilman model) did each party use?
  • Who is at fault in this scenario and why?
  • How was this situation resolved? What steps would you take if you were the manager and why?
    • Did people get fired? If so, who?
    • Were schedules changed?

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