A “Crash Course” in Workplace Conflict Resolution
Listen to understand, before speaking to be understood.*
- 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