Posts Tagged ‘difficult behavior’

20-minute-manager-difficult-conversationsWhether confronting a colleague, giving feedback, or filing a complaint with management, finding the right words and methods to express oneself during a difficult conversation can be a challenge. And while most professionals might prefer avoiding any workplace confrontation, doing so often makes things worse. Harvard Business Review Press’s 20 Minute Manager: Difficult Conversations not only demonstrates the benefits of confronting contentious issues head-on but also provides a step-by-step guide to transforming interpersonal conflicts into productive dialogue. The book highlights the qualities and skills professionals need to become better communicators and examines how they can maintain positive relationships at work.

The book explains that in order to transform contentious conversations into highly constructive ones, professionals must:

  • Pinpoint the root of the problem. To resolve an interpersonal conflict with a productive conversation, a professional must first have a clear understanding of where the problem is stemming from.
  • Develop self-awareness and emotional intelligence. Only when professionals look within and empathize with how others are feeling can they calmly navigate difficult conversations.
  • Prepare for the conversation. To ensure that a difficult conversation goes smoothly, a professional must carefully plan what he or she is going to say and anticipate the different ways the conversation may unfold.
  • Stay calm and collected. Difficult conversations can easily become emotionally volatile; therefore, professionals must always try to maintain a calm, neutral tone and ignore any inflammatory language directed their way.
  • Reflect. To have consistently better and more productive future interactions, professionals must take a moment after the conclusion of each difficult conversation to identify what did and did not work.
  • Follow up on the conversation in writing. To fortify the positive outcome of a difficult conversation, a professional must quickly reiterate and reinforce what was agreed upon with the other party in an email.
  • Become better communicators. Effective communication does not just make difficult conversations easier, it can also help professionals’ self-esteem, improve workplace relationships, and mitigate conflict.

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Resolving ConflictIn Resolving Conflicts at Work, Kenneth Cloke and Joan Goldsmith help readers understand the underlying causes of conflict and how to approach it in new ways. Conflicts at work arise because companies are made up of diverse group of people with different communication styles and differing expectations. Few people have been trained to resolve conflict in a healthy manner, which is why conflict is common in every workplace. Transformation does not occur until people first resolve how they became stuck in conflict and take time to develop new strategies. When an organization operates with a culture where conflicts are avoided, honesty and creativity is lost in the process. People need to take time to look inward and understand what conflict means to them and how their perceptions impact the way they respond to these situations.

According to the authors:

  • All conflict is influenced by an individual’s background and learned responses. When people understand this, they can work to uncover the hidden meanings behind any conflict.
  • When people listen to opponents with an open mind, their opponents will do the same for them.
  • The language used to describe a conflict reflects attitudes and assumptions. It can reveal the interests, emotions, and histories that are behind the surface-level issue.
  • Difficult behaviors are present in every workplace and, in some cases, are inadvertently encouraged through reward systems. When these behaviors are discussed in the open, there is opportunity to improve on all sides and develop perseverance.
  • Resistance is often the result of an underlying need, such as improved communication or greater involvement in decision making. When the reasons for resistance are explored, it becomes easier to collaborate and negotiate for a solution.
  • To prevent the same conflicts in the future, systems can be developed within an organization. This prevents conflicts and sets the standard for how they are to be managed when they do occur.

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