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Addressing Conflict

Do you ever wish you could get away with sticking your tongue out at someone like we may have done when we were kids? 

Do you ever feel like sticking your tongue out at someone's idea? 

It's not news that people don’t always get along. But it's not always a bad thing. In fact, at work, conflicts can be the impetus to something new and better. But what’s the best way to disagree respectfully with a colleague that won’t make a hard situation harder? I’ve listed a few considerations that have stood me well over time when I’ve had to raise a disagreement:
  1. First of all, no judgements. Speak only about the facts. “Here is what’s happening in our (environment) right now.” It’s difficult to argue about facts, because they are…well… facts! Once you inject some emotion, you’re headed for rough waters. Stay with logic.
  2. Focus on why you believe WHAT you believe—NOT why they are wrong for seeing things differently. It will keep you from making the disagreement personal. 
  3. See if you can extract something you like/agree with in the other person’s perspective—and build from there. “I like what you’re saying here, and I agree we need to address this. What would it look like if we took this approach?
  4. Concentrate on what your partner is saying—listen to really understand what’s on the surface AND what’s behind his/her words. Resist the temptation to highjack the conversation so you can make your point. Listening provides valuable information. 
  5. Speak from the first person. In other words, speak about your experience, your perception, your feelings and OWN them. In other words, rather than say “YOU always/never” etc., say I’m feeling concerned that if we…”
  6. Get comfortable with agreeing to disagree. Sometimes there will be no convincing and that’s also ok. It pays to let things go, let go of your ego and just walk away. This is especially important if the relationship with the person is key. Many times, the ability to walk away leads to more open-mindedness and the issue may potentially be revisited (and resolved) later!

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