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The Path from Argument to Resolution

Before starting a conversation that has the potential to stir up emotions (whether yours or the other person’s), take the time to run through a planning checklist to maximize the potential for resolution. Without this step, the conversation is likely to devolve into merely an argument. Research has shown that our emotional and rational minds work in parallel – when the emotional mind is on top, rationality goes out the window.    Avoid having emotions hijack the conversation.   Here is an abbreviated checklist to run through before embarking on that conversation.


  1. Identify the facts. What is the source of the disagreement? Is it task related or process related? Is it a clash of personalities such as how you are being treated? Or, is it status related such as a disagreement over who’s in charge or gets credit for the work? This step will help you set aside your emotional reaction and begin to solve the problem.


  1. Review the options for handling. Sometimes, the best option for handling a disagreement is to do nothing or to exit the relationship. These options are best when you have little to no power or you suspect that the other person is unwilling to have a constructive conversation. An indirect option may work best if there is someone the other person is willing to take feedback from.   Address directly if the problem persists or if there is lingering resentment that has the potential to build-up.


  1. Respect the other person. Can you avoid making judgments? This is the universal bias of being right. Can you be curious about the other person’s point of view? What does the other person want? What can you learn?


  1. Think Win-Win. Be open to listening and think win / win.   Visualize how the conversation may end.   Search for options that have the potential for satisfying the wants/needs of both parties. Keep in mind the goals of the larger organization. Acknowledge that you will have to give something up to reach resolution.


  1. Plan your message. Identify and review talking points. Establish common ground.   Be open to hearing the other party. Ask thoughtful questions. Consider multiple scenarios and potential resolutions.


  1. Manage emotions. Avoid being rushed. Consider a change of scenery. Bring a positive mindset. Think of ways to remain calm if emotions run high. Remind yourself that “this isn’t about me” or “this is about business”.   It’s ok to take a break or schedule a follow-up to settle flaring emotions.


  1. Get to a resolution.   Seek to be collaborative and creative in order to achieve a resolution that satisfies as many interests as possible and is considered fair and reasonable.   Document the agreement and identified next steps.


For help, support and a sounding board for applying this checklist to your workplace conflicts, consider hiring a coach.   Contact me today to discuss your team challenge and how the principles of emotional intelligence can help.









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