Our bodies are not meant for conflict. This is why we do not like having difficult conversations. They are hard. But they are also important to have. They can strengthen relationships and help you achieve goals. Here are some tips on difficult conversations and conflict resolution that can be useful in both your personal and professional life.
Pick the Right Mode of Communication
So much communication takes place digitally these days. You might be tempted to start difficult conversations via text message or email, but this rarely ends well. It’s tough to gauge the tone of text, and messages can be easily mis-interpreted or read out-of-context. Difficult conversations should always be held in person or by phone. Zoom is okay too. These direct modes of communication give you the benefit of instant feedback and enable you to adjust your approach depending on that feedback.
Select an Optimal Time and Place
Not only should you carefully choose how you communicate but also when and where. Difficult conversations are best held privately, without the distraction and embarrassment of being around others. If the conversation is about a heated incident, giving everyone some time to cool down and reflect can be helpful too. But don’t wait too long. Allowing too much time to pass can allow anger and resentment to build. Proper timing is so important to conflict resolution!
Have an Objective
Take some time to prepare for difficult conversations. First and foremost, what is your objective? Are you looking for acknowledgment or a particular action? Are you trying to repair or preserve a relationship? Once you have your goal in mind, think about the best way to achieve it. It may even help to write out talking points ahead of time.
For instance, if someone offended you with their words, telling them they’re a jerk is probably not the best way to get an apology or change their behavior. Instead, you might focus on why the words were offensive and how they affected you personally. This thinking process is critical. If you don’t have a goal in mind, you are less likely to achieve it.
Stick to the Issue
One of the most important tips for difficult conversations and conflict resolution is to stick to the issue. We all have a tendency to air all of our grievances at once, using that as leverage to plead our case. If you haven’t realized it yet, that approach is not productive. Although you may harbor resentment or anger from previous incidents, it’s nearly impossible to resolve all conflicts at once. Instead, focus on just the recent incident. Relationships take time to build, and they also take time to repair. Take baby steps instead of giant leaps.
Be Conscious of Body Language and Tone
Sometimes what you say doesn’t match what your body and tone convey. Even worse, your words may not reflect what you truly feel. Be aware of your body language and tone and how these might be perceived by the other party. Make sure what you say and what you do are consistent.
Tips on Difficult Conservations and Conflict Resolution Courtesy of Richard Crabtrey
Approaching difficult conversations and conflict resolution methodically will help you hold more productive conversations. The tips above are provided courtesy of Richard Crabtrey, our Vice President. Richard has built his career on establishing solid relationships and applying sound approaches to business challenges. He believes in achieving transformational change through understanding the unique organizational dynamics present. With Richard’s guidance, our team is more effective in the work we do and relationships we maintain with our clients. If you are facing organizational challenges, learn how we can help.