Stakes are high, emotions run strong, and opinions differ

By Travis Bradberry via inc.com   Article

 5 Secrets to Mastering Conflict

“Conflict typically boils down to crucial conversations–moments when the stakes are high, emotions run strong, and opinions differ. … There are five common mistakes you must avoid, and five alternative strategies you can follow that will take you down the right path.

Mistake 1: Being brutally honest.

… Many people think the content of the conversation is what makes people defensive, so they assume it’s best to just go for it and be brutally honest. It isn’t. People don’t get defensive because of the content–they get defensive because of the intent they perceive behind it. It isn’t the truth that hurts–it’s the malice used to deliver the truth.

Mistake 2: Robotically sharing your feelings.

… To maximize cognitive efficiency, our minds store feelings and conclusions, but not the facts that created them. That’s why, when you give your colleague negative feedback and he asks for an example, you often hem and haw. You truly can’t remember. So you repeat your feelings or conclusions, but offer few helpful facts. Gathering the facts beforehand is the homework required to master crucial conversations. …

Mistake 3: Defending your position.

… A great way to inoculate yourself against defensiveness is to develop a healthy doubt about your own certainty. Then, enter the conversation with intense curiosity about the other person’s world. … As former Secretary of State Dean Rusk said, ‘The best way to persuade others is with your ears, by listening.’ When others feel deeply understood, they become far more open to hearing you.

Mistake 4: Blaming others for your situation.

… You cannot master conflict until you recognize the role you’ve played in creating your circumstances. Your boss may have passed you over, but she did so for a reason. Half your pain is the result of her betrayal; the other half is due to your disappointment over not performing well enough to win the promotion.

Mistake 5: Worrying about the risks of speaking up.

VitalSmarts‘ research shows that those who consistently speak up aren’t necessarily more courageous; they’re simply more accurate. First, they scrupulously review what is likely to happen if they fail to speak up. Second, they ponder what might happen if they speak up and things go well. And finally (the order is important) they consider what may happen if the conversation goes poorly. Once they have an accurate understanding of the possibilities, saying something is their typical choice.”

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