Conflict is alive and well in the workplace – and while healthy
disagreement can lead to brainstorming and new ideas – squabbles and quarrels
are destructive. When a potential dispute arises, it is important to move it to the
direction of conversation. This may run counter to our instincts, but, remember,
it’s a good thing for everyone involved!
How can you do this?
Be supportive. Recognize there is an issue. When you begin a response with
support, you can immediately improve the tone of the conversation. By working
on understanding, rather than dismissing the concerns and ideas of the other party
– you open the door for more dialogue and a more helpful, open view from the
person you’re interacting with.
Ask open and meaningful questions. When we are feeling angry or stubborn,
we ask questions that try to direct the other person toward seeing things as we
do. To have an open and meaningful conversation, ask genuine and open
questions and really listen to the answers so you can better understand the other
party and their perspective.
Address the feelings first. In an argument, it’s important to understand
that generally emotion, as opposed to a lack of factual understanding, is the
engine of the issue. Focusing only on the facts can escalate an argument. By
recognizing the underlying emotion you can often get to the root of the
misunderstanding. Remember as emotion goes up, rationality goes down!
Pay heed to body language. Whether yours or the other person’s – pay attention
to the body language you’re expressing, and receiving. Dismissive or disruptive
body language propels a hostile conversation, while welcoming and open
body language can lead to cooperation.
Remember the goal. In situations that could escalate to argument, think about
the goal and do what you can to open the floor for conversation – not argument
or debate. Doing this leads to better understanding and a more cooperative
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