We are naturally inclined to take up positions. Maybe it's a bit extreme to say we are natural extremists, but being wholly for or against something, in a complex and shifting world, also seems extreme.
There is no such thing as a ‘communication breakdown’. We here about it all time time, but I think this is a an inaccurate and limiting term which does more harm than good. Here’s why.
Sometimes, in conversation, what is ‘obvious’ isn’t obvious at all. A source of difficulty can be the unchecked assumptions that each of you holds. It pays to slow down and find out what's driving each of you to understand the hidden differences.
When a dispute between employees becomes visible it usually falls to a manager to intervene but few are confident in doing this so they'll often ignore the conflict in the hope that it'll go away, downplay the seriousness of the disagreement, or approach it ineffectively. Research by OPP charts the costs and benefits of conflict, and a guide from CIPD identifies the behaviours that will help managers recognise and proactively manage disputes at work.
Nobody wins when accusations of bullying are based on a misunderstanding of what the term means. Knee-jerk reactions based on misuse of the term do harm and conceal genuine cases of bullying.
We frequently abandon conversations before they really get started. Once sparks begin to fly – or we fear that they will – we back off. Yet that is precisely the moment to engage in discussion, but that would require commitment to overcoming the fears of our own imaginings. Our excuse is that that to keep talking will make things worse. It doesn't, if you go about it the right way. The trouble is, no-one ever tells us how to do it, so we grow up with childish notions about opposition...
I'm getting some great reviews for Difficult People, now out on Kindle.
How do you stop an argument? In theory it's simple, but as people are usually involved they mess it up by doing the opposite of what is required. A lot of what we learned in school might be redundant in later life, but some of the basics can still come in handy if we can recall them.
If a conversation is stuck in a well-worn groove it might be time to give it a nudge. While it's polite to listen, it helps no-one to keep going over the same old ground.