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5 tips on how to work your way out of conflicts

Did you know that listening is actually one of the best ways to resolve conflicts between you and a co-worker? Learn why listening is important and how you must practice listening when interacting with your co-workers.

I wrote about ways to disagree with a co-worker, as a run-up to this article. The article describes ways to tackle conflicts that occur within the office environment. I outlined various steps that can be taken to settle discord amicably. Continuing with the same topic, here are some steps that can be practised in the workplace, when there is a disagreement with a co-worker.

Here, I discuss the importance of listening. Why it is important to listen, even when there is a conflict.

Most of us are guilty of not 'listening'. It is a malady, which needs to be remedied. A lot of issues that we are faced with are of our own making. These issues that bother us can go away with the snap of the fingers if we learn to do just one thing right – which is listening to those addressing us.

Listen to every word and understand the intent. Don't use your brain cells to draw unnecessary deductions, for it can become a vicious cycle.

It is said that listening must be done to understand and not to respond. This golden rule should be applied to every conversation you have. When you listen well, you become more amiable. You emit positive vibes when you take on the role of the listener, in the conversation.

What makes listening important

Listening is an effective tool that gives you an insight into the speaker's mind and plans. When you become an avid listener, you come across as a confederate and others are more likely to open up to you, more easily.

Listening is an effective trait that can help you chart your moves. Always listen with a purpose - listen with an intent to understand, listen with the aim of gathering information, and listen with the goal of using the information to further your plans.

Listening is often difficult and seen as unproductive because it makes us feel side-lined. Our contribution as a listener is zilch. We would rather be heard and make our presence felt. But, I see listening as a means of enriching one's self. It equips us with the knowledge and information that we previously lacked.

How to be a good listener

Acknowledging what the other person is saying, makes you come across as a good listener. Don't be distracted with what is going on around you, instead remain completely focused on what the other person is saying.

Even in an argument or a heated discussion, where tempers fly high, just acknowledging the other person is enough to pacify them.

There are a couple of things that can be quite effective, to the listening process. Nod when you agree, or to show that you are listening. It's a subtle message that you send across to the speaker. It makes it easier for you to add a rebuttal when the time comes.

Empathize when you respond

Someone just spoke their heart out, but you don't agree with them, what should you do?

Be empathic when you speak to them, remember they had a lot to say or complain about. Don't disregard their feelings – start the conversation by saying something nice. If they have been complaining about work pressure say something like, "I am sorry that this is how you feel. I know how it feels, I have been there myself…" You find a common ground, and it becomes much easier to approach the issue and begin negotiating from there.

Next get down to the real issue, by explaining your stand. In doing so you'll show your co-worker that you understand what happened and relate to their feelings but want to resolve the issue.

Come from a place of interest

Now that you have your chance to speak, talk purposely, but be careful how you do that. Don't shoot all your points in quick succession; it will come off as a list of objections. Go slow, go point by point and ask for explanations on issues that require further understanding. Listen to the clarifications with an intent to understand and use that to come to a solution.

Know that you are not always right.

Go back to the start

Sometimes nothing may seem to work, you can find yourself in a situation where despite all the friendly and understanding talk, you fail to come to a mutual resolution. You both agree to disagree. Allowing the situation to remain status quo defeats the purpose of the meeting. You have to come to an understanding and work towards achieving it.

You can attempt the following and hope for results.

Step back in time and start from scratch. Go over the issues, one issue at a time and, recognise the views that you shared and agreed upon. Get into the thick of things; ask pointed questions – why are you enthusiastic about the project? Are your objectives the same as they were when you started? Why do you not see eye to eye?

At times, all that is required to create a better understanding between you and a co-worker involves taking a step back.

Briefly, stop being involved in the situation in order to mull over it, from a different perspective. Tell yourself and your co-worker "Let us just step back from the real issue and together work towards a way of what we could do".

It builds a better environment because you call upon them to start afresh. You create an opening for new discussions. It is a chance to go back to the plans and concepts you shared – it introduces renewed energies and you begin to work towards meeting halfway.

Of course, there is always the chance that none of the solutions described here work. Despite attempting every trick in the book, and following all the right approaches, you still might find yourself at loggerheads with your colleague. But, at least you know you tried.

However, this gets you to the difficult part. You will have to take that call, whether you want to continue working together. It's fine if you choose not to, but you'll have to resign yourself from the project.

Though, the likelihood of a comprise is more likely than a fallout. Especially, if you are interacting with a mature, clever co-worker. The above tips could lead to constructive discussions, with an amicable outcome, which is good for both.

Have you ever been in such a situation; found yourself trapped in a crisis where you and a colleague do not agree on matters? How did you resolve the problem?

Article by Juana
Juana is a freelance writer, with years of experience, creating content for varied online portals. She holds a degree in English Literature and has worked as a teacher and as a soft skill trainer. An avid reader, she writes on a variety of topics ranging from health, travel, education and personality development.

Follow Juana or read 609 articles authored by Juana

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Author: dipti13 Aug 2018 Member Level: Silver   Points : 6

Workplace conflict is something that happens everywhere and its resolution is required quickly, more often than not. No matter what the topic of disagreement be, both parties in the discussion are aware that it is a professional environment and that both are working for the organization and are accountable for their work. With that thought as a starter, keeping an open mind and listening to each other's complaints and grievances, if any, is a very smart and practical way of dealing with issues. Colleagues are already aware that they need a healthy work atmosphere to function properly so to resolve issues amicably is the best way forward.

Listening and empathizing with the other person is an important life skill required in every type of relationship. It is true that many a time, all a person needs is someone who will just listen and understand what he is going through.

I loved the idea that we should listen to understand and not to respond. If we could take away one piece of advice from this article, it would be this. Applying this to everyday life and relationships will probably make us more tolerant and patient. Also, it would prevent unnecessary stress and conflict resulting out of our impatient behaviour.

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