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Avoiding Unnecessary Conflict in the Workplace

I was sent this advice by a professional body that aims to provide "work life support" - basically trying to cut the amount of stress suffered by UK teachers (in any one year, around a third of serving teachers will have time off sick with work-related stress).  It's good advice for people in a lot of jobs (such as the infamous cubicles of American office life), so I thought I'd share it:



Most of us spend the majority of our time at work, so when we experience conflict in the workplace it can have a huge impact on our lives.

Disagreements are commonplace in a working environment, and can be helpful in challenging preconceptions and developing ideas, but this can descend into conflict when agreement cannot be reached, and neither party is prepared to compromise. This can be particularly difficult if one party feels victimised, ignored, belittled or intimidated.

Often conflict is the result of miscommunication, and the best communication occurs when all parties are listening well. If we feel heard, we are more likely to want to listen in return, and to reach a better understanding of where the other person is coming from.

Active listening will help you to hear and understand exactly what the other person is saying, and will encourage them to share more information. To be a good active listener:

 

              Stop talking! You might be tempted to interrupt, but try to wait until the other person has finished saying what they want to say.

              Make sure you are giving good non-verbal signs that you are listening. These include maintaining eye-contact, having a good open posture (not crossing your legs or arms), looking interested and nodding.

              Use silence. If you pause for a few seconds before speaking, you may find that the other person has something more to say.

              Try to catch yourself if you're losing concentration. You might be drifting off, thinking about what you're going to say next, feeling sleepy, planning your dinner...

              Check your understanding frequently. You can do this by asking clarifying questions, repeating back in your own words what has just been said, or summarising what they've said so far. Get the other persons agreement that you've understood them correctly - if you haven't, then ask them to repeat what they've said and try again.

              Use open questions (what, where, who, why, when) if you want to get more information and encourage the other person to speak freely. Use closed questions (those resulting in a yes/no answer) to get specific information or to clarify your understanding.

              Be on the look-out for non-verbal signals - do they look tense? Are they speaking more quietly than usual?

 

...we now return you to your usual programming...

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Kryptonite6 years ago
Ever read the book "How to win friends and influence people", by Dale Carnegie? I would suggest it, it's got a lot of things similar to this.
Kiteman (author)  Kryptonite6 years ago
No, I haven't.

(And probably never will...)
Actually, it's a decent read..... not as "manipulative" as the name suggests.
.  I agree with Skunk. You may not want to adopt all the principles in the book, but there is some excellent advice in there on how to get along with other ppl. You should be able to pick up a used copy for cheap (per Wikipedia: "first published in 1937, it has sold 15 million copies globally").
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_to_Win_Friends_and_Influence_People
Thanks, I should have put the statistics in along with the reccomendation. It is a very good book.
caitlinsdad7 years ago
In the corporate world, all backstabbing is done remotely without face to face contact through email electronic communications. CYA is the best policy.
Jayefuu7 years ago
All good advice! Even out of the workplace. I think I do most of that. Maybe not the last two points so much.