Let’s be honest, how cool are you in conflict? When you find yourself in uncomfortable conversations, maybe even confrontational conversations, does your blood start to boil, your body heat up, you get animated, maybe even say something you don’t mean? Or do you find yourself getting ‘cold’, walls go up, avoiding others, perhaps even disengaging?
We all struggle in conflict. And how we deal with it can make or break everything: job, account, relationship, trust, opportunity, health.. you get the picture. Don’t worry, we are here with THE 3 most important thing you need to know to keep you cool in conflict. Ask a question, ask a question, and then ask ANOTHER question.
So let’s say someone says something that for whatever reason pushes your buttons. You know those times when you may be in a hurry and don’t have time for someone’s idea, or a comment is said that goes against how you want to proceed and your buttons get pushed. Once these buttons are triggered watch out! This is when we make those comments, typically based on judgments (those in our heads) that take the conversation to a new and very uncomfortable place. That place from which it is difficult to extricate yourself without a loss of respect on the part of someone, that place where words are said that later you wish you could pull back into your mouth, that uncomfortable, frustrating, unpleasant place.
We believe you can detour right around “that place” maintaining respect for all concerned AND stay feeling good, no buttons pushed to ‘high’. How to do this? When someone makes a comment and you hear it in a way that you can feel those buttons begin to be touched, ask an open question. What can you be curious about? What do you want to know more about? How can you gain clarity to truly better understand their perspective? Once you have asked an open question and listened to their response, ask another open question and focus on listening to their response. You will notice the dimming of those emotional buttons. A third question is often needed so go for it! Then again take the time to really listen to their response.
In the Globe and Mail (9/16/13) under Freak Leadership trainer Dan Rockwell advises Tips To Improve Your Listening Skills. He says “test and explore rather than defend”. We have learned that when in conflict, exploring another’s answers with open questions will enable you to better understand their perspective, what they are trying to say and also test any assumptions you may be creating in your own head. By exploring their head instead of staying in yours, you will better understand them, their ideas, their point of view. This understanding will lead to greater clarity and an opportunity to better appreciate each other. You will no longer need to react to their words in a way that causes your emotions to rise and words to be uttered you may later regret.