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Are your Conflict Communication Skills up to Par?

No matter how pleasant and easy-going you may be, conflicts are bound to crop up every once in a while. Handling an interpersonal conflict is always tricky, but it can be particularly delicate in the workplace. Effectively handling a conflict while maintaining your professionalism and preserving your relationships with colleagues and clients is a crucial skill. The way in which you communicate with others during tense or negative situations can make all the difference in how the conversation goes. Here are some strategies for keeping a negative situation from becoming a negative relationship:

Use “I Statements”: If you are upset with someone else’s actions, focus your message on your reaction rather than their shortcoming. Simply replace “you statements” with “I statements”. For example, rather than saying, “You clearly didn’t prepare for the presentation. Your performance was extremely disappointing,” you might say, “I was somewhat disappointed in your presentation today. I usually see a much higher caliber of work in your performance.” Your message will still be received, but will be far less abrasive.

Soften your Questions: Leading into a question with some pleasantries can keep it from feeling accusatory or an attack. For example, if an employee was late to a meeting, you might ask, “Why were you late this morning?” Although that is a perfectly normal question, it is likely to put the other person into defense-mode and close off communication. Instead, try to phrase the question in a less-direct way: “I noticed you came into the meeting late this morning. Did something happen?” Phrasing the question in a more polite way allows you to get the same information and makes it more likely that you will get an honest, positive response.

Take Time to Cool off: Avoid saying things in the heat of the moment that you’ll regret later. Words spoken in the heat of anger may irreparably damage your professional relationships and your career. If you find that you are becoming increasingly upset during a conversation, take some time to cool down before continuing. Simply tell the other person that you don’t have the time to continue this conversation at the moment, but you would like to talk about it at a later time and try to come to a solution that’s positive for everyone. Make sure to set an actual time to continue the conversation so it doesn’t get postponed indefinitely and allow negative feelings to fester.

If you have questions or are interested in improving your communication skills, give me a call at 212-308-7725 or send me an e-mail at info@corporatespeechsolutions.com. I’d be more than happy to answer any questions you might have!

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