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Make peace with fighters

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Some folks love to fight. Their normal mode of conversation is to argue. If you’re dealing with a combative co-worker, rise above it.


Distinguish between disagreement and misunderstanding. You may think you understand the other person’s message, only to learn that you’re addressing the wrong problem or harping on irrelevant issues.

To make peace, clarify whether you truly disagree or if you can smooth over a misunderstanding. If you’re used to dealing with a bellicose co-worker, don’t let your next war of words escalate. Instead, pause and say, “It looks like we just disagree.”

Then summarize what you perceive as the disagreement. If the person nods and says, “Yes, we’re far apart,” then there’s no point prolonging the battle. In a genuine disagreement, it’s usually futile to claim you’re right and insist the other person budge.

But if the colleague responds to your summary by saying, “No. My real concern is ...”, you may get lucky and nip a misunderstanding in the bud.

Another strategy is simply to ignore an aggressive colleague’s antics. If you work with people who always contradict you, look past their fighting tone and focus on the message. Your reaction may lead them to lower their guard and speak more civilly. Don’t feel obliged to acknowledge every aggressive statement. Let such comments bounce off you.

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