A Crash Course in Workplace Conflict Resolution

Listen to understand, before speaking to be understood.*

crash-course-collaborative-comm-2-figures-handshakeEssential components

  • Active listening — e.g. open questioning, probing for underlying emotions, and paraphrasing.
  • “I” messages – your thoughts, feelings and opinions – in a non-accusatory manner.
  • Assertive speech to clarify your own issues and concerns.
  • Open and empathetic body language and tone of voice.
  • Reframing and summarizing to keep on track.

Still not getting through? Remember,

  • Resistance is the negative expression of an unmet need.
  • Keep probing – with empathy and openness.

Distinguish Between Thoughts and Feelings

  • Thoughts are in the head – expressed as I think, I believe, I understand, I recall.
  • Feelings are emotions, operate at gut level; may be physical; manifests as “sad, happy, glad, loving, guilty, rushed, relaxed, tired”.
  • Statements about emotions are not qualified; nothing between “I feel” and “the emotion”; e.g. “I feel that you …”, “I feel it is”, etc. actually signify opinion, belief or thought.
  • Reality check: if words such as “believe, think or know” substitute for “I feel that”—this is a head trip, not an emotion.

Balance Assertion and Empathy

  • Assertion: offers information about ourselves. Important and  risky. Advantage to the initiator; other person may be surprised.
  • Empathy: responsive to other’s message, to reduce negativity and build rapport.

Together, these skills are the foundation of a collaborative approach.

* Stephen R. Covey, “7 Habits of Highly Successful People”; habit #5

Copyright(c) 2015 Carol J. Sutton Cert.ConRes.