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De-escalate arguments quickly

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in Workplace Communication,Workplace Conflict

Do conversations often turn into disagreements in your workplace? It may not be because you work with a bunch of hotheads.

In fact, Rob Kendall, author of Workstorming: Why Conversations at Work Go Wrong and How to Fix Them, says it’s a lack of training. Too many workplaces make the mistake of assuming that employees know how to communicate—when most have never received appropriate training.

Help your employees communicate more effectively, starting with these strategies:

Teach them to practice mindfulness. Most people don’t think before they speak. They respond to others while they’re multitasking, fail to notice signs that a conversation is going sideways, or impulsively react to triggers. As a result, people can resort to blame shifting, insults and other negative behaviors. Talk to your employees about the importance of taking a moment to process what the other person is saying before they respond.

Point out when conversations are breaking down. Politely call attention to the problem to prevent disagreements from escalating into arguments. Say “I think we are getting off track here,” “I don’t think I am explaining myself clearly, so let’s start over” or “Let’s look at this from another angle.” Then rephrase your statements or take a different approach to move forward productively.

Establish boundaries upfront. If you don’t want other people to debate, offer ideas or share their concerns, tell them that. You can say “While we won’t discuss your concerns about the plan today, I will answer your questions.” Doing so prevents arguments from breaking out. On the other hand, if you want feedback, ask for it and keep an open mind. If people start questioning you or objecting to your ideas, don’t become defensive or angry.

—Adapted from “How to Conquer Communication Chaos by Workstorming,” Charles Franklin, Small Business Trends, https://smallbiztrends.com.

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