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Overcome conflict with these 3 steps

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in Workplace Communication,Workplace Conflict

When you’re feuding with a colleague, your brain interprets the situation and spits out a story. You come away with an internal narrative—a beginning, middle and end that characterizes the conflict in your head.

A story makes it easier for you to understand or justify what’s happening, but it doesn’t necessarily help you know how to extricate yourself. That’s because many stories we compose are false.

After an acrimonious meeting at work, your brain might create a story about how you’re ostracized by your team. From there, your narrative can lead you in the wrong direction and leave you more embittered and less able to regain trust with others.

To overcome conflict before it spirals out of control, follow these three steps:

1. Note how the story came about. What emotions led you to draw your conclusions? How did your feelings trigger certain actions or behaviors?

Scrutinize how your emotions and actions were intertwined during the conflict. Don’t get defensive; instead, be vulnerable and acknowledge your faults. Solicit input from friends on how you’ve acted and to what extent your story matches what they perceive.

2. Confront underlying motives. Assess with open-minded curiosity why you act the way you do and how your story influences your behavior. Maybe the story you tell yourself flows from existing reserves of anger, hurt or pain.

3. Write a new ending. Commit to changing your attitude and how you interact with others who tend to antagonize you. Write how you’ll respond in the future if the same pattern emerges.  

— Adapted from Rising Strong, Brene Brown, Spiegel & Grau.

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