This article comes from Entrepreneur.
So how do you effectively manage conflict so it doesn’t turn in to combat? Here are seven steps to help keep conflict healthy and productive:
Engaging in healthy conflict begins with learning how to tread the line between “brutally honest” and “necessarily honest.” One is about putting people down while the other is about the free flow of information. Rather than avoiding conflict, getting aggressive or becoming passive-aggressive, assertively communicate what you want and need from others. Clearly communicate your expectations and ensure understanding.
Being vague and avoiding the real topic creates confusion and a lack of clarity. Start the conversation with candid feedback and then use the rest of the conversation to work toward a mutually beneficial solution.
We all have a different style in which we communicate and we see the world through our own lens and perspective. Knowing the characteristics of different behavior styles and understanding how to modify your approach will significantly reduce conflict.
This will avoid putting others on the defensive. Think about how you feel when someone begins with “You should” or “You always.” When someone begins a sentence with “I feel” or “I need,” you are generally more receptive.
Instead of saying, “You said you would finish this by today,” try “The project really needs to be finished today. What do we need to do to make that happen?” As soon as you make the discussion personal, you run the risk of turning conflict into combat. By keeping the conversation about the issue, you will reduce defensiveness.
When you listen and paraphrase what another person is telling you, it demonstrates that you really care about understanding them. Saying “What I hear you saying is ____. Is that correct?” is one of the simplest, most powerful communication tools to keep conflict productive. When people feel heard, they are less likely to be defensive.
Make an effort to try to understand the other person’s viewpoint, rather than convince them of yours. Share your desire to see the situation from their perspective. Get curious and ask questions. The goal should not be to avoid conflict but to embrace it, staying focused on productive outcomes.
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