So often when colleagues are disagreeing with each other, they rarely listen to what the other is saying. In today’s world, we are all so busy, it’s rare that people give each other their undivided attention. To help diffuse a potentially volatile situation, do the following:
• turn off phones & beepers and give total eye contact to the other person
• be sure you understand exactly what the other person is saying. Rarely do we truly hear the message the first time. If you are unclear, own it. Say “I want to make sure I understand your perspective. Could you please restate it in another way for me?”
That action alone will disarm someone, because they realize you truly want to hear them. We all have that basic need. Most people are delighted to elaborate on their viewpoint.
• While listening, if you find yourself getting more and more agitated, stop the conversation and clarify again, respectfully, carefully. You could use phrases like: “Can you elaborate more on that? Please say more about____.”
Each time you do this, you honor the other person, you cool down and you actually clarify their viewpoint. You might also learn something new. And best of all, you have diffused a potentially volatile situation that might have led to unpleasant working relationships. Listening well is key to good communication.
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