PAUSE - the silent opportunity of connecting with your audience
December 1, 2014
Women's March to Freedom
March 8, 2017
How to manage conflict and build powerful business relationships
March 1, 2014
Have you struggled getting on with someone at work knowing you have ‘no choice’ but to deal with them day after day after day? Have you been in the centre of conflict and noticed yourself withdrawing and giving your power away for the sake of ‘peace’? Or have you found yourself at the centre of the argument determined to win it at all costs?
Without a doubt, most people would do anything to avoid conflict and yet it is an unavoidable part of human interaction and relationships. When it is not managed, the gamut of emotional responses from stress, frustration to downright anger can trigger a host of unhelpful responses in words and actions, which are often regretted and irreversible. This can result in the loss of relationship, business opportunities and even in some cases one’s job. So how can we deal with these conflicts and difficult relationships? Here are four key tips:
Tip 1: Build rapport
Although finding a point of connection is very important and will definitely bring about a commonality between the two of you, most rapport building happens through non-verbal means. This occurs through our body language, facial expressions and tone of voice. Have you noticed that when you get on with someone, you start to mirror their behaviour? If not, make a note the next time you speak to a close friend, colleague or a family member to observe what their body language is doing. It may be the way they fold their arms, place their weight on one foot, smile, tilt their head and so forth. Matching posture, gesture and voice sends signals to the unconscious mind that “I am like you." Since people like people who are like themselves, this is a key element of building relationship.
Tip 2: Step into the other person’s shoes
Everybody wants to be understood, heard and empathized with. So instead of withdrawing or defending your ground, spend a few moments stopping, breathing and collecting yourself before you respond. Imagine what it is like to step in the other person’s shoes. Try and understand what is really going on for them – what they might be frustrated or annoyed about. What needs of theirs aren’t being met? This intention will enable you to speak with a greater degree of empathy and your desire to understand and connect with them will mean that you have begun opening the channels of positive communication.
Tip 3: Genuinely listen
Have you noticed that in conflict situations, we spend most of the time defending our position and very little time actually listening to the other person? If you want to connect and build powerful relationships, spend more time listening to what is going on for someone else. The very act of genuinely listening will mean you allow the other person to have the space to vent their emotions or air their views without being interrupted, judged or made to feel wrong. Giving them the room to be fully heard, will enable them to move through their frustrations more easily and come to a place where they can better hear you and communicate more openly with you.
Tip 4: Look for a win-win outcome
For many of us winning means someone else has to lose. It is based on competition and very often leaves one party getting their way at the expense of another. Win-win is about a co-operative outcome. It is about the way we think and wanting both sides to have an outcome that is mutually beneficial. This is based upon respect, integrity and belief that both sides can win. Next time you are in a conflict, ask yourself - "Am I ‘position’ centred (which is about taking a stand and defending it) or ‘person’ centred (which is a willingness to understand the other side and what the other person is thinking, feeling and needing)?" If your intention is to be people centred, you will move towards a win-win outcome that will build relationship, trust and genuine connection.
When conflict arises, be aware of your habitual responses. Take a few moments, breathe, calm and centre yourself, genuinely listen to what is going on for the other person, step into their shoes, build rapport and look for the opportunity to achieve that win-win outcome. You will be surprised by what you can achieve!