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The First (and Most Overlooked) Step in Conflict Management

So much of Conflict Management focuses on diffusing the anger and hurt feelings, focusing on what is said—neglecting the fact that the most important aspect of communication is non-verbal. Instead of WHAT you say, HOW you say it is of utmost importance. Since about 93% of our communication is non-verbal, our body language such as posture and gestures, as well as our tone, inflection, and facial expressions reveal how we feel.

The Big Picture

If you focus primarily on the verbal part of your message—which is just 7% of what you’re communicating—you’re missing the big picture.

But it can be very difficult to remember to keep your non-verbal cues in check. The reason these non-verbal elements of communication are so important is because they’re a far more accurate way of judging the message. This is precisely because they’re so difficult to conceal.

Fortunately, there is a “trick”.

The EASIEST way to manage your non-verbal cues and to have the best possible resolution to a conflict is to quit being anxious. Don’t worry about the outcome.

Notice that “Don’t worry” is not the same as saying “Don’t care.”

Being worried means that you’re assuming the worst. You’re assuming you will “lose”. It’s a very real possibility because conflict means  something that means a lot to you is out of your control. (And of course something is out of your control—if you could control everything, there would be no conflict!) Often, the only element of the conflict that you can control is yourself.

When you change your mindset by deciding not to worry, your “body language” (non-verbal communication) instantly falls into place. Now, 93% of the hard work is working in your favor!

The First Step

So the first (and most overlooked) step in Conflict Management is: EXPECTING A POSITIVE OUTCOME.  (Notice that this does not assume the positive outcome will be your preferred solution.)

You can’t “lose” if it isn’t a conflict

Expecting a positive outcome will make you more relaxed. It can relax the other people who are involved in the issue. Instead of a conflict, you can have a discussion.

You can “lose” in a conflict (or rather, a fight), but you don’t “lose” a discussion.

When the other people involved see that you’re not tense and worried, they’re less likely to worry. This can make them less tenacious about clinging to their preconceived notions and preferred solutions.

 Undiscovered Possibilities

Instead of pushing, listening lets you realize that other people involved might have a solution you had not considered. Perhaps at first their solution didn’t seem to work in your favor, but after hearing more about their side, the outcome could have positive possibilities you hadn’t realized. Working TOGETHER can bring out new possibilities that NO ONE had previously considered.

It’s no longer your solution and their solution…it’s “ours”. All involved may find a new solution no one had previously considered which is far superior to the other ideas.

Another reason not to “push”

If you push your solution, you might “win the battle, but lose the war”. The other people who “lose” will find a way of “winning”, over time. By pushing just to get your way, you could lose allies at work and you can lose loyalty. This can make the rest of your time at the office far less pleasant. Losing workplace efficiency  through a loss of morale and cooperation is usually the way those who lost the battle react—through passive aggressive measures of chipping away at your power.

For help with your conflicts, contact INSPIRE Business Solutions at 317-842-8881 to improve efficiency and cooperation in your office.

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