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:
- Manipulated Commitments
- Manipulated or coerced commitment looks pretty good on paper, but it might not lead to dedicated action.
When the truth is finally revealed, trouble can be unavoidable.
- Can You Hear Me Now?
- Not feeling heard can feel like an attack, even when there was no attack, and then conversation can
quickly turn to war. Here are some tips for hearing your conversation partner and for conveying the
message that you actually did hear.
- Be With the Real
- When the stream of unimportant events and concerns reaches a high enough tempo, we can become so transfixed
that we lose awareness of the real and the important. Here are some suggestions for being with the Real.
- I've Been Right All Along
- As people, we're very good at forming and holding beliefs and opinions despite nagging doubts. These
doubts lead us to search for confirmation of our beliefs, and to reject information that might conflict
with our beliefs. Often, this process causes us to persist in believing nonsense. How can we tell when
this is happening?
- Human Limitations and Meeting Agendas
- Recent research has discovered a class of human limitations that constrain our ability to exert self-control
and to make wise decisions. Accounting for these effects when we construct agendas can make meetings
more productive and save us from ourselves.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming January 29: Higher-Velocity Problem Definition
- Typical approaches to shortening time-to-market for new products usually involve accelerating problem solving. Accelerating problem definition can also help. Available here and by RSS on January 29.
- And on February 5: Unrecognized Bullying: I
- Much workplace bullying goes unrecognized. Three reasons: (a) conventional definitions of bullying exclude much actual bullying; (b) perpetrators cleverly evade detection; and (c) cognitive biases skew our perceptions so we don't see bullying as bullying. Available here and by RSS on February 5.
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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.