BEYOND BULLYING™

who? meet Marlene.

 

Marlene K. Schwaljé

My working life is dedicated to the organization and its people who seek to create a culture of respectful communication and collaboration from the break-room to the board room.  

With a long history of successfully resolving hundreds of disputes as organizational leader, employee/labor relations expert, and professional mediator, I decided to take a leap into the world of self-employment. I became an independent workplace conflict consultant in 2002 and president/CEO of Infinite Resolutions LLC, providing full spectrum communication, collaboration, conflict prevention and resolution services, in 2004. As an independent business owner after being an employee, supervisor, and leader for many years, my perspective of the world of work is deep and wide.

I partner with clients to prevent and resolve organizational and interpersonal conflicts so that productive relationships can be preserved and restored, and the organization can focus on its mission rather than divert time, energy, and resources to conflict and litigation. Together, we build constructive communication, collaboration, and conflict competence skills and systems with supervisors, leaders, teams, and employees. Most importantly, we engage, nurture, and optimize internal capacity to sustain this growth by building on organizational and interpersonal strengths and resilience.

I’m gratified that I’ve contributed in a small way to the missions of a very diverse clientele, including federal, state and local government agencies; community healthcare clinics, behavioral health providers, and hospitals; higher education, charter schools, school boards and districts; Native American enterprises; religious groups; labor organizations; and for-profit companies. I am honored and humbled to be trusted as mediator, facilitator, coach, and consultant, and to guide pro-active organizations in developing, implementing, and supporting sustainable workplace dispute resolution systems. 

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As a graduate of Temple University in Philadelphia PA, my degree in social work (community organizing/social casework) gave me an appreciation of the right to self-determination, a value which has informed my dispute resolution work with individuals and groups. I worked for many years with people with developmental disabilities, their families and community resources, including serving as special education mediator and facilitator. Prior to Infinite Resolutions, extensive experience in employee and labor relations has included negotiation of over 50 collective bargaining agreements and resolving hundreds of gripes, grievances, and labor board complaints – a legacy of 90% resolution without arbitration or litigation.

From the east coast to New Mexico – what an adventure! I live and work in Santa Fe, read avidly, create a bit of jewelry and photography, and love to play with my dogs. I’ve been married to the most supportive guy in the world for what feels like forever (talk about practicing what you teach!) and truly know that my greatest contribution to the world is our son, an incredible and compassionate human being.

I provide pro-bono services with many local community organizations, and volunteer with the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, which I consider my community’s gift to the world.  Currently, I’m serving in my eighth year on the board of the Northern New Mexico Human Resources Association [SHRM]; an active member    of Association for Conflict Resolution [ACR], New Mexico Mediation Association, and Mediate.com, I’m a glutton for professional growth and development. Whatever I’ve learned through experience, I try to pass on through numerous presentations, including Association for Conflict Resolution – NM Municipal League – NM Coalition for Charter Schools – NM School Boards Association – Northern NM Human Resource Association – Southwestern Indian Gaming Conference – NM Job Service Employer Connection – and was a plenary speaker at the International Association of Workforce Professionals. Publications appear in the SHRM Legal Report, Association for Conflict Resolution Workplace Reporter, ACResolution, and websites devoted to charter schools, Native American enterprises, dispute resolution, and leadership development.

Yes, I’ve personally experienced workplace abuse. And professionally, the majority of workplace issues I’m called upon to mediate, whether as informal or EEO cases, involve allegations of “bullying” behavior by manager or peer – behaviors which were never effectively addressed. So many of the businesses I work with are spending more time and resources to get mired in the muck of labels than they are in taking action, and just about all of the available training resources reinforce the need for legislation or litigation, rather than reveal, respond to, and resolve underlying and over-arching interpersonal or organizational issues. It’s abundantly clear that there is a need to transform the language of, and response to, inappropriate interactions and distressful behaviors in the workplace, whether or not these are called bullying, abuse, or intimidation; harassment or hostile; micromanagement or tough supervision; whining or over-sensitivity; incivility or obliviousness.

My work with people and their organizations is based upon the deeply-held belief, supported by experience, that respectful communication is the foundation of a well-functioning and productive organization, and that most people possess the will and wisdom needed for collaborative problem-solving.  To substantively advance this core belief, I authored and advocated for the Respectful Workplace Resolution – the first initiative of its kind in the nation – passed unanimously by both Santa Fe City Council and the Santa Fe Board of County Commissioners in fall 2010.  And I’ve launched this website – BEYOND BULLYING™ – to spread the message, share some tools, challenge the pervasive paradigm, and encourage dialogue – because where respect exists, bullying cannot.

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