How we treat one another matters — that is just good, common sense. All human beings want to be respected, listened to and valued. These three universal needs are the key to authentic communication. Yet, these needs are often overlooked in the workplace.
In fact, research confirms that rudeness and cruel behavior are on the rise, particularly at work. The physical costs of a toxic workplace are immense. Poor behavior destroys employee relationships, diminishes morale and hurts the bottom line. When you focus on the human side of business — mainly, support the emotional needs of employees — you have an enormous advantage over more hot-headed counterparts.
Prepare yourself for tough, deep-seated conflict with these tips to help keep your cool:
Allow for silence to occur. Take a moment to collect your thoughts — step back and survey the situation. Throughout the discussion, take the time to wait until the other person has finished talking and avoid interrupting.
Know when and how to de-escalate things. If you find yourself caught in the moment, buy yourself some time and ask more questions such as, "Tell me more about that…" Take a few deep breaths, and regain your composure.
Clarify and summarize your understanding. You won't fix a problem by judging or making assumptions. Instead, pause and seek to understand the other side. Paraphrase your understanding of the situation from the other person’s perspective to ensure clarity.
Be vulnerable. Vulnerability is not a sign of weakness — but a sure path to more meaningful conversations and profound connections. Share accounts or stories that will help illustrate your view and allow your feelings about the situation to emerge.
Remain on the same side of the fence. Be willing to own your part in the conflict. Seek an outcome that will benefit both sides. Offer open, honest feedback and remember that you share the same needs.
Show compassion. View the other person through the eyes of compassion and cooperation. This simple act can move mountains — and save a lot of time. When you hold the space for the other person in a positive light, you'll be better equipped to establish a more constructive outcome.
Apologize where necessary. If need be, take responsibility for your part in a conflict or discussion and apologize sincerely.
Check your ego at the door. As long as there is a victim or a villain there will be no peace. Be mindful of any hidden personal agendas and opt to inspire, influence and collaborate, instead of "win" at all cost.
Employ the Three Golden Rules of Engagement. All authentic communication involves the following three vital points that will help set the tone of your conversation and lead to a successful resolution.
- Affirm or enhance self-esteem
- Involve the person (ask their opinion, help, ideas, etc.)
- Listen with empathy
If you're going into a challenging conversation with someone, spend time carefully considering how the person may respond. List possible objections and points of contention. Come up with a response for each of these points so that you don't lose your cool and are not struggling to make a point. Many people find it helpful to practice having the conversation with a colleague or friend. Finally, visualize the conversation going exactly as you planned.
The secret to successful conflict resolution is simple. Remember the basic universal needs and treat others as you would like to be treated.