Posted 17 November 2011 by Chris Farmer
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Communication and Conflict resolution training
Conflict at work is inevitable: you are bound to get some.
The reason you are bound to see conflict is that people do not have the same ideas:
- What you think is good: they think is bad.
- What you think is unacceptable, they think is normal behaviour.
- What you think is true they think is false.
So you will have to deal with conflict situations.
Conflict can be split into two main categories:
- The first is Intellectual Conflict
- The second is conflict based upon behaviour
Intellectual conflict is based on mis-communication or disagreement of content.
Example of mis-communication error
When you said "as soon as possible" I thought you meant "tomorrow".
Differences of opinion on what constitutes "the good"
Example of disagreement of content i.e. intellectual disagreement
You believe that astrological star signs should be included in our selection process: And I don't.
The second form of conflict is conflict based upon behaviour
The second form of conflict is based, NOT on misunderstanding, but on poor behaviour.
- They understand that they should be at work at 0900, but they come in late almost every day.
- He understands that he should not swear in meetings, but he does.
- He understands that he should wear safety boots, but he keeps failing to wear his safety boots!
So we have two categories of conflict:
How should you deal with each type?
Here are some brief notes on each:
Resolving conflicts based on poor communication
1. Act from professional principles not according to your feelings or mood.
When you are at work: don't act according to how you feel: Instead, act according to principles:
If you act according to how you feel, your behaviour will be inconsistent, changing as your mood changes, from hour to hour.
Instead decide how you wish to be perceived and act accordingly.
Act accordingly... Even on the days you don't feel like it.
If you would like to be perceived, as fair, professional and positive:
Then write that on a post-it note and stick it where you will see it.|
Strive to live up to your own example: irrespective of what the others are doing: and irrespective of your mood.
2. The need for clear communication
Work on your language skills.
When speaking and writing, strive to be as clear as you can.
Study language. Read a grammar book. Be wary of ambiguous language.
Ambiguous language is defined as "Any word or and phrase that can be properly interpreted in more than one way".
Ambiguous language will cost you dearly. Because he will interpret your message one way, when you meant it in the other way.
Such confusion will cost you time, money and many arguments.
Strive for clarity at all times.
3. Focus on what CAN BE DONE, not on what cannot be done
Many people will spend much time detailing:
- What they can't do.
- What they won't do.
- What they are against.
- What they don't like.
When this happens
Don't ask them "WHY?" or "WHY NOT?"
Instead: ask them "IF NOT, THEN WHAT?"
- If they can't do this, then what can they do?
- If they won't do that, then what WILL they do?
- If you are against this, then what are your FOR?
- If you don't like this, then what would you put in its place?
5. Distinguish between legitimate criticism and cynicism
Conflict implies criticism. Criticism is good: if it is:
- Non emotional
Criticism can degenerate into cynicism, in which case it is BAD for business. Cynicism is BAD criticism:
- Highly emotionalised
6. How to improve your listening skills
Improve your listening skills by the following three steps
- Decide to listen more and speak less
- When listening, listen out for the persons POINT: their conclusion: their suggested action plan.
- Then listen for: the reasons WHY they believe their point is correct.
Resolving conflicts based on poor behaviour
1. Remember to let them save face
Don't fall into the trap of trying to beat the person in the argument.
If you do beat the other person, in many ways you still lose: because you damage the relationship.
Always try to give the person the means of saving face: especially if the conflict is being witnessed by others.
2. Use factual language, NOT emotionalised, highly charged language
When in conflict: stick to using factual, objective language
Don't use opinionated, emotionalised language.
"You are twenty minutes late for the meeting."
Is a better use of language than "You were totally unprofessional?"
3. Always prepare your message in advance
In order to comply with the suggestion above, you will need to work out what you are going to say
(and NOT say) in advance of the meeting.
DON'T just walk into his office and let rip!
4. Always give them a specific "way out" of the conflict situation
Always know what you are going to ask him for.
Knowing that X is wrong leaves open the question of "what is right".
If you don't want him to wear his Homer Simpson tie whist on a sales call, then exactly what kind of tie should he wear?
5. Distinguish between "reasons" and "excuses" for not doing something
Eliminate from your mind the concept of "A reasonable excuse". A reasonable-excuse is a contradiction in terms.
His explanation should be categorised by you as a reason OR an excuse.
Distinguish between a reason and an excuse and have a different policy for each.
6. Learn when to compromise and when not to
Compromise is the act of finding the middle ground. Sometimes compromising is good.
Sometimes to compromise would be the worst thing that you can do
There are many issues upon which you should never compromise.
Make a list of the items upon which there can be no compromise.
Then stand firm on the things that you should and when necessary, give- ground on the rest.
7.Watch the body language and listen for the voice tone
Be wary of aggressive or submissive body language and voice tones
When in conflict pay attention to your:
Voice volume - Not too loud- not too timid.
Voice pitch - Not squeaky, high pitched, shrill.
Posture - Sit or stand upright.
Gestures - NO pointing.
Eye contact - Sufficient to imply your self-confidence.
8. Keep control of yourself
When in work conflict, don't get demonstratively over emotional.
Even if you are emotional: don't demonstrate that, until you are in a safe place to let it all out.
If you let-out all your emotional content, in the wrong place, then many bad things will befall you.
- You expose yourself to ridicule
- You distract people from your main message
- You expose yourself to those people who play on others emotions: i.e.
- Windup merchants
- Social bully's
- Manipulative types
For more information about conflict and communication training visit the Corporate Coach Group website.