Tag Archive for conflict resolution

Workplace Communication – When Good Intentions Go Bad How to Correct a Blunder

Workplace misunderstandings are costly, stressful and potentially damaging to your career–especially if you created the communication snafu. Knowing how to handle communication blunders while keeping your composure can save a job, a reputation or a business relationship.

Sometimes even good intentions go bad. Early in my career I created a bad situation just because I was trying to do the right thing—serve a customer. If you’ve ever worked in commission sales perhaps you can relate.

While we were expected to help all customers, it apparently was not correct to be too helpful. (Yes, you’re reading a bit of disbelief on my part in that sentence. More years of experience tells me otherwise…but that’s another post.)

At the time, my helpfulness caused the customer to want to switch horses in mid-stream and work with me. That, of course, was not going to sit well Read more

Communicating at Work – When Management Makes a Big Change But Fails to Consult those Involved

Alas, miscommunication by management teams is alive and well.

I was reminded of this when meeting with a friend this week. He  shared with me his frustration at a significant change his company made without consulting those it affected.

How does this happen?!

This particular change will spread beyond a mere inconvenience for associates, it promises to challenge family members of these associates in perhaps devastating ways.

Management decided that this particular team was now going to alternate night and day shifts forcing associates to work two weeks on the day shift followed by two weeks on the night shift.

Brilliant.

Forget the fact that the detrimental effects of this kind of schedule have been well documented including loss of productivity and higher incidences of mistakes and accidents.

What shocks me most Read more

Communication or Business Starts with Your Why–Simon Sinek said it Best

I never tire of listening to Simon Sinek’s 18 minute Ted Talk. Why? It keeps me in touch with my own “why.” Why do I do what I do? Because I believe every painful, comical, costly misunderstanding is rooted in communication…I believe in improving our “understanding”–one person at a time–to make the world a better place.

Here’s Simon Sinek’s take on selling with your “why.”

What’s your thoughts?

Assertive Communication at Work – How to Manage an Aggressive Colleague in 8 Steps

Assertive communication means you have the right to stand up for yourself while still respecting the rights of others. Aggressive behavior is when you believe you have rights but no one else does. Passive behavior is the opposite. You believe you have no rights but others do.

Assertive behavior is finding the balance between the extremes. Obtaining that balance isn’t always easy especially with aggressive or abusive co-workers.  Here are a few tips to help when a colleague slips into aggressive communication.

1. Recognize that your co-worker may be suffering from stress that isn’t visible to you. Problems in personal relationships, money woes, challenges with children, health issues or even the morning’s miserable traffic are examples of stressful events that can trigger abusive behavior.

2. Do nothing. Let your colleague vent as long as you are not in physical danger. If you sense an altercation is about to  escalate  remove yourself from situation–immediately. If you feel the need to say something try, “Bill, this is getting out of hand. I’m leaving now. I’ll check back in a short time and we can continue once we cool down. Avoid saying, “calm down.” Only a 911 operator should use that phrase.

3. Remember that the first wave of anger is probably not the last.  Use the pause  to clarify what you heard and understood. Calmly state, “If I understood you correctly…”  Your co-worker’s rage is usually associated Read more

Workplace Misunderstandings – Limiting Beliefs that Create Conflict

One comment I often hear when it comes to misunderstandings in the workplace is, “If you can just fix my (boss, coworker or customer) then I wouldn’t have any problem communicating.”

Maybe you’re even agreeing with that statement. If you are you have some work to do…inner work.

There are 4 key beliefs you might hold that lead to conflict:

1. I must explain my side first. If you believe this you fail at a fundamental principle of communication. Dr. Stephen Covey put it best, “Seek first to understand before seeking to be understood.”

2. I am a good listener. Hate to break it to you but the odds are not in your favor. Most of us fail miserably as listeners while believing the opposite. Listening is not waiting to speak. It’s actually engaging to understand what is being communicated. This, unfortunately, takes some effort.

3. I’m not afraid. Really? Think again. Fear is the underlying issue of all conflict. Fear you won’t get heard, fear of losing face, fear that you might not get your way or fear that the truth about you will be revealed. It’s difficult to get to the truth when you’re operating from a place of fear.

4. I lose if they win. Communication is not a competitive, contact sport. Switch to cooperation mode if you want to manage workplace misunderstandings.

Good communication requires healthy self-esteem, self-awareness and an attitude of cooperation not competition. Approach conflicting communication styles with this intention and you’ll decrease conflict and misunderstandings.

To learn more about managing conflict in your workplace, pick up a copy of this 60 minute teleseminar:

“6 Steps for Moving from Contention to Common Ground – How to Communicate When You
Don’t See Eye-to-Eye”

Manager’s Top Job – Clear Communication

Unclear communication and workplace misunderstandings can lead to a loss of productivity, money, clients or worse. Clear communication is the benchmark of a good office and tops the lists of best business practices with a capital “C”.

The clear communication implementation process begins when a new hire joins your team. As a manager, it is your job to make the person Read more

Conflict Management in the Workplace-Tips for Bosses

As a manager you must have faced resistance to new ideas, initiatives and change to procedures at some point in time. Good managers learn to deal with these minor push-backs and move ahead. Better ones, however, turn that into an opportunity and gain in strength from it – they create a persona for themselves and turn it to their advantage. Some simple managerial and conversational recommendations that make managers turn into leaders, in spite of resistance from a group of people, are discussed below. They would assist a good manager turn into a better leader.

State your Aim Clearly.     For a task to be done well, it needs to be clearly stated. Be direct but be positive and use plain tones. State facts as facts and mention requirements in an unambiguous manner. Clear instructions, without an iota of threat works wonders in any situation. Above all, keep a neutral tone and add no negative emotion to the conversation. Half your job is done.

Let People Gripe – Its their Birthright.     You have to appear as a very patient listener. You need to listen to the protests people have, but limit it to a logical time span. It need not be unending and you need to make them understand that though occasional bouts of complaints might work – noncompliance does not. Limit the gripe time.

Understand the Real Concern.     Often the real cause of the resistance to a new idea is Read more

Communication Quick Tip – The Keep Cool Formula

It always helps to have a quick formula that’s easy to remember, easy to post where you can see it and easy to implement. In touchy communication situations when emotions might thwart clear thinking try these 3 steps:

1. Look – Observe the pace, voice, eye-contact and posture of your listener. Pay attention to emotions, intentions, and any mental or physical distractions. Match and step it down if emotions are high.

2. Adjust – Shift your style to communicate in the way your listener likes to communicate. A small adjustment now saves time, money and effort later.

3. Verify – Verify that the translation and comprehension of your message matches your intention. (and be honest about your intention-is it aligned to your highest self?)

Ready for more tips you can use? Just enter your name and email in the boxes to your upper right and get FREE Instant Access to your 6-Part Audio Series – The Power of Effective Communication now. Go. 6 short audios that can change the way you communicate. or CLICK HERE

Misunderstandings at Work–Will Your Conversation Matter a Month from Now?

Learning to respond to emotionally charged conversations or misunderstandings in the  workplace takes practice, patience and perspective. The key is to balance your assertiveness with constraint so you can walk away feeling good about yourself , while not leaving the other party feeling devastated.

Ask yourself the following questions before blurting out an emotional reaction during  a challenging conversation. You just might gain a new perspective.

  • What’s the long term impact if you say everything you want to say?
  • What consequence or result will occur moments after your conversation if you do respond emotionally?
  • Will the result last more that those few moments?
  • What about the impact in a few hours, days, months or years from now?
  • Will this conversation matter at all or will it change the course of a relationship for better or worse?

If you ask yourself these questions before blundering ahead, you’ll discover that some conversations won’t need to happen at all, but don’t make that an excuse for not having the ones that do need to happen.

Thinking about the long term impact allows you to put things into perspective. Perspective goes a long way towards guiding your tone and words,  and perhaps changing your intention from hurtful to respectful.

A small shift in your behavior now can go a long way into the future…in a good way.

What’s your thoughts? You can find more information on this topic in my book, Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work–What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up. Get it at Amazon.com today.

Improve Communication at Work – How to Agree to Disagree

Sounds a little crazy I know, but knowing how to walk away from a contentious situation while still being able to agree is a necessary communication skill in business.

What exactly do I mean? Well, if you find yourself in a conversation in which you have consciously applied good communication skills including being an active listener and still find you cannot agree on any point, or you simply do not see eye-to-eye, then it just might be time to agree to disagree.

The consequences of taking a stand for yourself and your principles may be far reaching so be sure you know what you are doing. Communicating your opposing view while maintaining your composure takes fortitude and conviction.

I had a boss once who calmly walked into my office and simply announced that he (the president) had agreed to disagree with the CEO. Not quite sure what that meant, I gave him a questioning look and asked for an explanation.

Apparently, a major request or change of direction, or a shift in command  resulted in a situation where neither  he nor the CEO were willing to compromise. So they agreed to disagree.

It was civil conversation but the result of agreeing to disagree  meant my boss opted to leave his position. Yet, I have no doubt that he slept well that night. He honored his integrity.

You may find yourself in this position some day and you may not be in the financial position to simply walk away as my boss did.  The situation you are disagreeing with may be more than simply a blow to your ego, it may involve something unethical.

If you can agree to disagree and continue working without interruption then go for it.  But if you find the situation puts you at risk for a lawsuit or worse and you decide to stay ask yourself this–is the cost to your peace-of-mind, to your integrity,  to your family, to your self-worth and your health worth it?

What challenging communication situations have you dealt with at work?

Find more answers to these questions in Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work–What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up.  Buy it at Amazon.com