Listening to someone spout opinions or "facts" we view as dead wrong can be frustrating, draining, and sometimes angrifying. Things can get so bad that we can barely resist interrupting. When this happens in situations that have no long-term impact, we can usually maintain enough self-control to keep quiet and let the spouter spout.
But self-control isn't so easy when there are serious consequences for projects and people we care about. At work, losing control can be damaging. Here are some thoughts to keep in mind for a little more self-control.
- Maybe "dead wrong" is dead wrong
- Even though you feel you know your partner's viewpoint, you might not actually know, or you might have misunderstood.
- If you've discussed the issue in the past, remember: something might have changed since the two of you last spoke. Listen up.
- Listen to both person and viewpoint
- Some people focus entirely (or nearly so) on the viewpoint, ignoring the person expressing the viewpoint. Others focus on their objections to the person, and cannot hear the person's viewpoint.
- Both person and viewpoint are important. In some situations, you can't appreciate one without the other.
- Challenge your own views
- Try to agree by changing your own views. Find something in what's being said that you almost agree with. Make it more agreeable by changing something in your own views.
- Offer what you found to your partner. If your two views converge a little, opportunities for more convergence might come into view.
- Wait to be asked
- Your partner is more likely to listen to your views if you wait for your partner to ask for your views.
- Ceding space and time to your partner gives him or her a chance to realize that you haven't been talking. That realization might create curiosity about your views.
- You might want to be heard
- In most People are more likely to
listen to you if they feel that
you've listened to themknowledge-oriented workplaces, even when we can speak and express our views, we can't compel listeners to actually pay attention and take us seriously.
- People are more likely to listen to you if they feel that you've listened to them. Listening is your chance to earn the right to be heard.
- The more you know the better
- Listening to your partner — really listening — is the only way to fully grasp your partner's viewpoint and understand why it matters to him or her.
- To influence your partner, or anyone who holds you partner's viewpoint, begin by understanding your partner's viewpoint. You'll be far more effective if your first attempt to persuade is very solid than you would be if you must patch up your case after someone knocks a few holes in it.
Most important, when other people are present, one of them might be better able than you to move the conversation from conflict to consensus. Listening, and pausing, makes space for others. Top Next Issue
Are you fed up with tense, explosive meetings? Are you or a colleague the target of a bully? Destructive conflict can ruin organizations. But if we believe that all conflict is destructive, and that we can somehow eliminate conflict, or that conflict is an enemy of productivity, then we're in conflict with Conflict itself. Read 101 Tips for Managing Conflict to learn how to make peace with conflict and make it an organizational asset. Order Now!
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Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming March 27: Stone-Throwers at Meetings: II
- A stone-thrower in a meeting is someone who is determined to halt forward progress. Motives vary, from embarrassing the chair to holding the meeting hostage in exchange for advancing an agenda. What can chairs do about stone-throwers? Available here and by RSS on March 27.
- And on April 3: Career Opportunity or Career Trap: I
- When we're presented with an opportunity that seems too good to be true, as the saying goes, it probably is. Although it's easy to decline free vacations, declining career opportunities is another matter. Here's a look at indicators that a career opportunity might be a career trap. Available here and by RSS on April 3.
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