A few weeks ago, I found myself mediating a heated argument between my boss and a co-worker. What struck me immediately was how both were arguing to ‘win’ and to prove one another wrong. It was down to a fight of egos, rather than to express clearly how they felt. Both professionally and personally, arguments can be set aside if you follow these 5 tips:
1) Take a time-out: try not to react too quickly. If you give into your emotions right in the heat of the moment you might inadvertedly escalate the issue in your hot headed state. Instead, take a second to think logically about the problem at hand. Sometimes answering with a “let me find out” or “give me a moment” is the best answer you can give.
2) Find out what they are really saying: Listen, try to understand and uncover what is at the root of the problem. Sometime people just want to feel heard and they want you to acknowledge their concerns. I find an effect technique is by reiterating what you think the other person was trying to get across- don’t directly quote what they are saying and throw it back at them, but try to distill hat they were trying to say in your own words and show them that you are making an effort to understand why they feel that way.
3) Create a win-win situation: Often in arguments, one person will try to dominate the other. This has nothing to do with saying how strongly someone feels about something, but rather about power. In this particular situations- shouting over one another is ineffective and can build resentment. Instead, look for a win-win situation. What is a compromise?
4) Resolution: Often arguments lead to a battle of ego. So instead of focusing on ‘winning’ or who was ‘right’, move toward goals that you might have in common and try to emphasize your common ground. What are the common things you want? If you are arguing about work – what are your joint objectives? If you are arguing in your personal life- what brought you together? Focus on the middle part of that venn diagram.
5) Move on: Don’t dwell on the argument and rehash what was said. Sulking and whining should be avoided. No one wants to feel like they are being punished after an argument. Disagreements happen and the best way to handle that is by having a conversation, finding middle ground, and moving past it.