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Article No.: 18-10, October 1, 2018

Article Title:  Stop. . . Reflect. . . Then, Act to Prevent Unnecessary Conflict

Author: Linda Gravett, Ph.D., SHRM-SCP, CEQC

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As a Human Resources professional, like it or not we’re looked to for guidance and as a role model for how to interact successfully and peacefully with other employees.  In this article, I’d like to reflect on some of the good advice I’ve received and acted upon over my career that has helped me to turn potential conflict into collaboration.

My observation is that too often we react to a word or action of a co-worker much too quickly, operating on inaccurate assumptions about their intent or motivation.  This results in frustration and all too frequently, anger.  Before we act with haste, I think it’s good to slow ourselves down and ask a few questions.

The first question is:  How would I describe the person with whom I’m going to have a discussion?  Is h/she quick to react….talkative and willing to share immediate thoughts or does h/she need time to process information?  If the other person needs process time, plan to meet more than once and prepare for a little time to come to a conclusion.

The next question is:  How do you think the other person would describe you?  Based on your previous experience with one another, would h/she characterize you as quick to judgment, for example, or open to discussion and transparent?  If you want to counteract a notion the other may have of you, prepare to ask questions and listen thoughtfully to the responses.

Thirdly, be prepared to describe the behavior or words with which you’re dissatisfied.  It’s not fair to expect someone to change what h/she is doing unless there’s clarity around what’s a problem for you.  Think about specific examples and summon the courage to share them….respectfully.

Next, be prepared to describe what you do want from the other person.  If you want more frequent interactions, say so.  If you want the other person to listen more actively, say so.  Also, think about your reaction if you don’t receive the behavior you want.  What are you prepared to do about it?

If you have any questions or need more information about this article, please contact Dr. Gravett by email at LSG@justthebasics.com.


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