Misinterpreting others’ words or intentions is one of the leading causes of workplace rifts. Taking a beat to process what the person said before you respond—rather than thoughtlessly reacting—can save you some hassle. Follow this advice:
Be curious. Rather than jump to a conclusion, ask questions to ensure that your assumption is correct.
Put a label on your feelings. Take a deep breath, and acknowledge how you’re feeling, for example, “angry,” “threatened,” “insulted” or “misunderstood.” That simple acknowledgment allows you to regain some control.
Reframe colleagues’ behavior. Why is the person acting this way? What circumstances led up to this situation? When you see things from others’ perspective—even if you don’t agree—you’ll be more inclined to work cooperatively to resolve the issue.
Edit before you respond. Ask yourself “Is my response going to move the conversation forward in a positive direction?” If you can’t answer “Yes,” you aren’t ready to respond.
— Adapted from “12 Techniques For Being Less Reactive And More Intentional With Workplace Communication,” Forbes Council of Coaches, Forbes, www.forbes.com.