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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More articles on Emotions at Work:
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- Some of us are fortunate — we work for companies that make sure they have enough people to do
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we work long hours to get it done. If you're an over-worker, what can you do about it?
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outcomes are known. Unfortunately, a well-known bias — hindsight bias — can limit the effectiveness
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- Preventing Toxic Conflict: II
- Establishing norms for respectful behavior is perhaps the most effective way to reduce the incidence
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other, we can all help prevent trouble.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming October 17: Overt Belligerence in Meetings
- Some meetings lose their way in vain attempts to mollify a belligerent participant who simply will not be mollified. Here's one scenario that fits this pattern. Available here and by RSS on October 17.
- And on October 24: Conversation Irritants: I
- Conversations at work can be frustrating even when everyone tries to be polite, clear, and unambiguous. But some people actually try to be nasty, unclear, and ambiguous. Here's Part I of a small collection of their techniques. Available here and by RSS on October 24.
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