Simple techniques to improve communication and reduce conflict

What is it with the how we communicate these days?

I am on my soapbox today, having a bit of a rant.  I know I do this stuff for a living, but I cannot believe how much some managers botch the relatively simple interaction that is required as the basis of any good employee –employer relationship.

This week I have heard a number of examples of highly intelligent, well-qualified people just making a botch of the business of relating to another human being.

Communication can be hard

Now I know this stuff gets complicated when there are performance related issues at hand. I know that sometimes people can be prickly to deal with and you just don’t really like them that much. I know that sometimes there is so much on organizationally, so much pressure, that this stuff seems like a very low priority, a “nice to do”.

So why try and communicate in another way?

But let me give you one very good reason for doing things differently, for thinking about the manner in which you relate to people, for trying to work out a way to improve relationships or communication.

It costs money to not do it..

What happens when it all goes wrong?

The examples I have heard this week were all examples where sitting down, having a sensible conversation would have resolved the issue (or at least taken a lot of the heat out of it allowing for cool heads to prevail). Instead, the issue gets escalated; in one case resulting in an extremely nasty court case.

Escalation means more people getting involved. More time (and therefore money) wasted. And that’s before you think of getting lawyers or any other professional involved to assist you resolve it.

Whilst it may seem that the easy way is to ignore an issue, or ride roughshot over the employee to make the issue go away; very rarely does this solve it. And when the issue reemerges (as it almost always does); it reemerges bigger and uglier than it was to begin with.

Some simple tips to improve communication

So a few very simple techniques to utilise when faced with a difficult situation that needs resolving:

  • Listen to understand, not to defend your position;
  • Ask questions;
  • Consider what is the common ground you both have on the issue;
  • Ask for time out if the issue becomes too heated or if there is more energy being devoted to the emotions surrounding the issue rather than the issue itself;
  • Ask what does the person want/need to have the issue resolved. Sometimes you will be surprised it is no way near as difficult or complicated or serious as you thought.

Rant over.

thanks to for the image 

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