4 Tips to Handle Difficult Conversations

Have you ever been in an unpleasant situation?

A heated discussion? A meeting where it gets impossible for you to get your point across to a team member? An awakened chasm between two team members? Often times, we find ourselves in the midst of a conflict or a heated conversation that gets out of hand. However, conflict doesn’t necessarily have to be unhealthy.

When working in diverse teams, differences in opinions are bound to happen. Creative indifferences can effectively lead to innovative outcomes. But, this can only be achieved when conflicts are handled sensibly. Instead of pointing fingers at each other, the focus should be on the situation and how to achieve an optimal solution.

1. Don’t wait for too long

Whenever an argument ensues, it is important to take that first step towards reconciliation. Instead of letting things fester, it is important to reach out. When working in teams, letting resentment fester is a recipe for disaster. This is because you will not only be hampering inter-personal relationships with your team members, but also negatively impact the overall productivity of your team.

Instead of waiting for the other person to initiate a conversation, you should initiate the conversation. Talk about the issue with a calm mindset. Something as simple as a phone call can go a long way. Don’t wait for too long just try to sort the issue as soon as possible. These unpleasant situation or discussions are like a forest fire, you quickly need to cut few trees to control the fire. The more you wait the more is the damage done.

2. Be empathetic

Before you start a discussion post a heated conversation, you need to create a safe environment for everyone involved. Listen empathetically and give them your complete attention. Let them present their side of things, and then build up a productive dialogue. Be honest about the things you disagree with but avoid getting personal.

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There are a host of modules and methodologies available to help you hold a productive feedback conversation. One of the most effective tools for the same is the SBI ( Situation-Behaviour-Impact ) feedback tool. Such tools allow you to get your point across objectively.

3. Keep your cool and be impartial

Often times, a heated conversation may leave you feeling emotional, and cloud your perception. Therefore, it is important to collect facts before forming an opinion. Our perceptions are rooted in our personal biases, experiences, and personal triggers. All this can prevent us from staying objective. Therefore, it is important to be mindful of our own personal biases and sticks it he facts.

Another important thing to remember when approaching someone about their behaviour is to not get personal. Avoid using accusatory terms or pointing fingers at all cost. Instead, talk about how their behaviour in a particular situation impacted the outcome. Be mindful of ensuring that you only state the facts. And, if and when expressing your personal feelings about the situation, try and put it across gently. When you express your side of things without accusing the other person, they are bound to be more receptive to your point of view. This will also prevent them from getting unnecessarily defensive.

4. Offer a solution

Most of us miss this extremely important part. The point of any conversation around a problem should be to get to a solution. Getting into the discussion and finding out the problem is just half job done. The other 50% is actually providing the solution.

Why finding a solution is so important? Solution will work as an ointment on a wound. Also, there is a direct relation between the emotions of the people involved and the solution offered. If your solutions can help make everyone feel at ease, your job is done. But this solution should be as objective as possible.

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When handling a conversation between your team members, it serves to refer to the values or the CREDO of your organisation. This will help ensure an impartial and objective approach from everyone.

Do let us know how you handle conflict at work?

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