Conflict inevitably arises in both business and professional relationships for various reasons. Some of these include contrasting opinions, different wants and needs, conflicting styles of communication, and breakdowns in communication. Some disagreements are easy to solve, while others are difficult and may require compromise or the assistance of a third party. But by building strong communication skills, you can become skilled at understanding the other person’s perspective, resolving conflicts, and preventing them. Here are some tips.
Establish Your Boundaries
Before you get into a professional or personal relationship, it is important to first clearly establish your expectations for the relationship and to set clear boundaries. This can help to prevent many conflicts down the road that can be due to misunderstandings or not fully understanding what the other person wanted from the beginning. Putting things in writing is helpful because it makes things more clear and you can later revisit what you had written down and agreed upon.
When a problem comes up in your relationship, discuss it in a direct manner. This helps to ensure that the other person understands exactly what the problem is and how it may be solved. Being indirect or vague can cause confusion and extend the amount of time that it takes a problem to get resolved. Also, indirect communication or no communication at all can cause resentment to build up so it is best to resolve problems as soon as possible.
Avoid Placing Blame
When a conflict arises, it is tempting to place blame on someone or something outside of ourselves. However, blaming someone makes them feel personally attacked and automatically puts them on the defensive. So this is not a constructive way to resolve a problem. Instead, present the problem without placing blame, let the person know why resolving it would be helpful, and suggest ideas you may have for resolving it. Also, ask them what suggestions they have for solving the problem.
Focus on One Issue at a Time
In a disagreement, it is common for people to bring up multiple problems or problems that happened in the past that are not related to the current situation. Stay focused on current issues and discuss one problem at a time so that you can focus on adequately resolving each problem. For both business and personal relationships, scheduling regular meetings to discuss the relationship can be helpful for making sure that each person is heard and that problems are resolved as soon as possible.
Practice active listening by listening carefully to the other person’s point of view without interrupting them. If there is no immediate solution to a problem, or you need more time to think about the situation, let the other person know that you need more time and will get back to them. Returning to solve the problem at a later time can also give both of you time to relax and gain clarity about a solution.
As a coach, I provide communication training for building strong teams and leaders. Get in touch today.
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