is part of life. That's why it's so important to master the skills of
Two important rules:
- Whether you're disagreeing with your boss, a colleague or subordinate,
pick your moments. If you clash in front of others, chances are the
interchange will get cut short, since public criticism is the most effective
way to short-circuit conversation. Should someone bring up a dispute
with you in public, deflect it by saying something like, ''I'd like
to think about that for a bit and speak with you later.''
Remember that our
reactions can determine the outcome. Here are some Fair Fighting Tips
to use your powers of communication more effectively.
- Use ''I''
There is one word above all others that cause someone to become defensive.
That word is ''you.'' Whenever we think we are being judged, our automatic
reaction is to become defensive, and communication stops. So instead
of ''you misunderstood me,'' say ''I might not have been clear.''
- No ''Zinging'' -
Many of us think a little friendly ''zing'' is harmless. It's not. For
example, ''Hey, I like your hair today. Did ya wash it?'' What happens
when someone zings us? We zing back. And one of the number-one indicators
of underlying negativity or conflict within a work environment is increased
sarcasm. The word ''sarcasm'' has its root in a Greek word that means
''to rip and tear flesh.'' Keep that in mind before you let loose with
a harmless little joke.
Stick to the topic
at hand. Generally when you scamper off into other subjects, the audience's
initial reaction is confusion. Confusion leads to impatience. Impatience
leads to resentment. In other words, by not sticking to the point, we
waste valuable time and can create a negative emotional response in
- Don't Interrupt -
It's not only rude; it often achieves the opposite effect we're looking
for. We generally interrupt to end or shorten a conversation. In fact,
the opposite occurs. When someone is interrupted, her first thought
is, they didn't hear me.'' Or, they don't understand.''
So she paraphrases and rephrases, lengthening the conversation. Let
people say what they need to say, fully. If you do that, yet the person
continues to paraphrase herself, the next trick is in how you should
- Restate What You Heard -
It would sound something like, if I've understood you correctly,
you feel the problem is X, and I felt it was Y. Is that correct?'' The
other person will think, ''She did understand me.'' Then you can move
- Stay in Today, Not Yesterday -
Often, when we talk about past, we tend to assign blame. If the past
must be discussed, refer to it, don't throw it in anyone's face, like
couples in the heat of an argument. Talk about today, the present, the
behavior you see and the behavior you'd like to see. You'll need to
practice these principles before they become habit. Though simple, they
can make a world of difference. As one of my favorite teachers said,
''We all know what to do. Successful, effective people do what they