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
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More articles on Emotions at Work:
- When You Can't Even Think About It
- Some problems are so difficult or scary that we can't even think about how to face them. Until we can
think, action is not a good idea. How can we engage our brains for the really scary problems?
- Confirmation Bias: Workplace Consequences Part I
- We continue our exploration of confirmation bias, paying special attention to the consequences it causes
in the workplace. In this part, we explore its effects on our thinking.
- Confirmation Bias: Workplace Consequences Part II
- We continue our exploration of confirmation bias. In this Part II, we explore its effects in management
- Big Egos and Other Misconceptions
- We often describe someone who arrogantly breezes through life with swagger and evident disregard for
others as having a "big ego." Maybe so. And maybe not. Let's have a closer look.
- Patterns of Conflict Escalation: I
- Toxic workplace conflicts often begin as simple disagreements. Many then evolve into intensely toxic
conflict following recognizable patterns.
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- Suggesting a better way of doing things can sometimes backfire surprisingly and intensely. Making suggestions privately reduces that risk, but introduces a different risk. Available here and by RSS on November 21.
- And on November 28: Wacky Words of Wisdom: VI
- Adages, aphorisms, and "words of wisdom" seem valid often enough that we accept them as universal and permanent. Most aren't. Here's Part VI of a collection of widely held beliefs that can be misleading at work. Available here and by RSS on November 28.
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- The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
- Many people who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.