Disengaging from Workplace Relationships

A Research Note



A randomly-selected sample of 306 adults employed full-time rated how likely individuals would be to use various communication strategies (cost escalation, depersonalization, and state-of-the-relationship talk) to disengage from a workplace relationship (with the target of the deteriorations being a supervisor, a peer coworker, or a subordinate employee) in 5 different scenarios. The results indicated that strategy use likelihood scores varied little as a function of the hierarchical level of the target. Likelihood of strategy use scores did vary by deterioration event; however, that accounted for little variance in strategy scores. In general, the participants perceived individuals were most likely to use depersonalization and least likely to use cost escalation to decrease closeness in a workplace relationship.