Confronting Without Conflict: A workplace communication tool

After recently re-reading Jim Collin’s book From Good to Great, I was once again reminded that the ability to disagree without fighting or tension, is both an art and one of the most useful skills we can have for great communication at work.

Without a doubt, we will have differences of opinions and frankly, we want differences of opinions from which to adopt and cull the best solutions. But how do you express these differences without the extra baggage of angst, stress, and negativity that so often get in the way of making ourselves understood?      communication at work

What do these words mean?

We can understand the word confront to simply mean laying out what you see. In other words, here are the facts. It comes with no extra baggage, but merely stating a point of view or position in a particular situation. If we expressed ourselves in this type of easy manner our communication at work would be hugely more successful. But often times we aren’t that easy and instead we might be more apt to create conflict.

You may have noticed I said that we “create conflict” as opposed to conflict happening to us or being a fact of life.

Yes… we/ourselves create the conflict! How do we this? It’s really a rather simple recipe. First we take a disagreement where we have opposing views with someone else and then sprinkle in a few additional perspectives, such as:

  • Feeling the need to have the results go our way
  • Thinking the other person is a jerk and doesn’t know what he/she is talking about
  • Believing the other person isn’t understanding you
  • Thinking you’re right and they’re wrong

But the clincher, the one that absolutely throws us over the disagreement line into the conflict category is that we get upset, frustrated, and sometimes even angry when the situation doesn’t go our way. This is what is at the heart of any conflict. Without our own unhappiness about the situation we would just have a simple disagreement. Without the negativity, we would just have the facts which would make communication at work so much easier and so much more effective.

Nobody’s Right and Nobody’s Wrong

Everybody’s got their story. You think your story is right which of course then means the other person is wrong. Guess what? They think their story is right and yours is wrong. So what to do? We could probably do twenty different things at this point, but I’m going to focus on only two for the moment. If you do these two things, conflict may become non existent in your workplace. They are:

  • Drop you guns
  • Invite disagreement

Drop Your Guns

Make a decision to drop your anger and frustration before entering into any conversion where you think the other person/s may have differing opinions. HOW? Remember that they also have a story that they think is right and be curious to find out what it is. Your curiosity will give you the ability to listen to the other with a greater understanding of their position.

Invite Disagreement

Become the best at inviting those around you to disagree with your position. Explain that you want to hear their perspective and encourage them to be completely honest with you. If you are calm, curious, and open, they will feel safe to speak their point of view. Tell them that hearing their view is best for the company and your relationship. Make it clear that there will be no repercussions from their honesty and that you want to hear what they really think (which means you really have to want to hear what they think).

If you drop your guns and invite disagreement you will be creating an open, safe environment that will encourage discussion and become the fertile soil for greater creativity and new ideas. You will, in addition, be paving the way for closer, more trusting relationships leading to stronger and more engaged teams. In other words, very useful tools!

If you want help with any aspect of how to create more effective communication in your workplace, just click on contact at the top of this page and send me an email.  You can also sign up for a “zero cost” thirty minute Communication Mastery Coaching Session to get help with the difficult conversations in your life. Looking forward to hearing from you.

All the best,










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