From Employee Resistance to Business Negotiating

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”Employee Resistance, How to Handle?”


Dear Dr. Gelb:

I am a supervisor in a small temp agency. Our office often seeks ways to maximize efficiency, including sending employees to trainings on the latest PC software. One employee has been resistant to how computerized our office is becoming and sometimes takes sick days when trainings are scheduled. I understand how intimidating technology can be but this knowledge is necessary for our company to stay competitive. I have spoken to this employee, who insists it is coincidental when his sick days coincide with trainings. What’s the best approach?


Dr. Gelb says . . .

Dear Improvement:

It is important for supervisors to be able to see through any rationalizations and excuses that an employee may have. And yes, some employees are resistant to learning and in this computerized age it is understandable that some may fear high-tech equipment — the fear of not being able to understand, the fear of appearing ignorant.

In my opinion, if an employee’s performance is dependent on new techniques such as those afforded by state-of-the-art technology, then they would have no alternative but to learn these systems, or to seek other employment.

As a wise teacher once said, “a carpenter could not do his job if he had a fear of a skill saw.”

”Business Negotiating, How To Succeed?”

Dear Dr. Gelb:

My husband and I own a clothing business and it is doing well. Why is it that when I am negotiating contracts or deals I break out in an embarrassing rash on my face and neck?


Dr. Gelb says . . .

Dear Negotiator:

Of course, always consult one’s trusted physician for issues involving the physical body.

That being said, from a psychological point of view, in my opinion there can be a psychosomatic-type correlation between fear and symptoms such as skin issues. In some instances a connection has been made between symptoms such as a skin rash or blotchiness, and fear. One such instance occurred when a newly licensed Realtor was trying to negotiate a settlement on an important deal and broke out in hives, while at the same time experiencing a subconscious fear of being wrong or making a mistake.

“I think deep down I’m afraid the sellers will think that I really don’t know what I’m talking about,” said the Realtor. “I’m sure they will find something wrong with what I say,” he added.

There are numerous types of scenarios that could trigger a change in chemistry resulting in a symptom such as a rash. The reasons that trigger such symptoms are unique to each person. Generally speaking, however, the type of reaction described in your question is not uncommon. It is almost like stage fright and can cause a person to lose their sense of authority.

This brings to mind a quote that someone shared with me recently. Its source was attributed to our 35th U.S. President, John F. Kennedy — “Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.”

”’Suzanne J. Gelb, Ph.D., J.D. authors this daily column, Dr. Gelb Says, which answers questions about daily living and behavior issues. Dr. Gelb is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Honolulu. She holds a Ph.D. in Psychology and a Ph.D. in Human Services. Dr. Gelb is also a published author of a book on Overcoming Addictions and a book on Relationships.”’

”’This column is intended for entertainment use only and is not intended for the purpose of psychological diagnosis, treatment or personalized advice. For more about the column’s purpose, see”’ “An Online Intro to Dr. Gelb Says”

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