Speaking with Etiquette

Disagreement is part of life. That’s why it’s so important to master the skills of disagreeing effectively.

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” Language

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 others.

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 interrupt him.

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 on.

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.