Interacting with people in the professional setting and in the social setting can offer challenges but there are theories which describe why people act the way they do. These theories can also help to guide behavior to help fix interrelationship problems.
The case study describes role theory as occurring “when the person’s expectations conflict with the requirements to learn to manage complicated equipment and medications.” Natalie is experiencing this type of stress with her new coworkers as they eases into her position in the hospital. She has the knowledge and book education to complete her job successfully, but she does not have the hands on experience that her co-workers have. They do not think that she is their equal because she has not been doing the same work that they have for the length of time.
Chapter 13 considers role theory as a relationship problem when there is confusion about an individual’s role. It seems that Natalie understands her role in her job position but is more concerned about her choice of professions. Starting a new job can be a difficult transition and being able to work as a team with coworkers makes it easier. Her coworkers are not making that easy for her.
Conflict Theory is very strong in this situation as there is clearly an issue between Natalie and her two new co-workers. McEwen and Wilis describe “conflict theories share common ground in the elements analyzed in human societies: inequality, power/authority, domination/subjugation, interests, and conflict.” There is conflict between these three women on all of these fronts. The previous employees feel that their new co-worker is not their equal. They are fighting to remain powerful and dominate over her at the same time that she is trying to fight against them to stay as an equal.
Natalie used social exchange theory to change her behavior in an effort to change her co-workers behavior. I have done this as well in my own conflicts at work. Upon starting at a small one-doctor clinic, I quickly began to have conflicts with one of the receptionists. She felt that I was trying to make changes to protocols which had been in place in the clinic and that I was critical and bossy. She was feeling threatened by my previous education. She had had much more experience working in medicine than I had, I had had more experience in business and the combination of my education which made her feel threatened. A few months went by with this conflict brewing, and it became a difficult situation where I was no longer happy with my work because of the conflict with this person. I tried many unsuccessful ways to avoid the situation and to stay away from this particular person. Upon our last situation, I vowed to make a change. I used social exchange theory to change my behavior toward her. I stopped holding a grudge towards her, acted more friendly and made a conscious effort to stop criticizing many different issues throughout the clinic.
I consider social exchange theory to be the most poignant sociology theory which can be applied to human relationships. It describes why people act the way they do and how those they are having conflict with can make changes to resolve the conflict. While some people feel that they should not have to make personal changes to appease others, it is healthier to make little changes to become a better team and provide better medical services.