Almost all conflict originally stems from a few things, and there is something we can all do about it before there is 'blood on the floor':
- Misunderstood or misinterpreted communication
- Difference of opinions or perceptions
- Unmet expectations
- Assumptions, judgements or pre-conceived ideas
- Personality ‘clashes’
We can all take 100% responsibility for our own communication and when we make positive changes, even one small thing can create a positive ripple effect on those around us, so whilst we can’t change others we can change ourselves.
Let’s unpack a little to get better clarity on what I may mean
1.Misunderstood or misinterpreted communication
This is fuelled by our modern technology driven world, our kids being taught from a young age that communication can be done any other way than in person, faster, easier, less confronting and yes impersonal. Emails, txt messages and instant messages have their place in the world for sure, I use them every day, but they are not meant to handle every type of conversation, there is far too much room for interpretation. Important conversations should always happen in person.
I see business owners, managers, sales people ‘hide’ behind a computer or phone, and when they know they need to pick up a phone and have a chat or set up a meeting in person they send an email or txt, because its ‘easier’ ‘less confrontational’ ‘they don’t have time’ etc etc etc….
We cannot expect an electronic device or typed email to ever replace the basic human need to hear a nice voice on the other end of the phone or even better face to face in a meeting or over a coffee.
2.Difference of opinions or perceptions
I love the saying that ‘perception is reality’ this is true for us all, and if we all approached communication with others with an open mind, consider for a moment that another person may in fact have a different view but valid because its theirs, and not try to be right all the time or win an argument, we can in fact be perfectly happy in the world by agreeing to disagree.
3. Unmet expectations
Someone is late for a deadline, over promised and underdelivered, or didn’t behave in a way we expected – this is all fuel to a fire of conflict if not approached in a healthy way.
My biggest freedom from disappointment when it comes from others behaviour was when I learned to let go of my expectations, stop expecting people to be like me, think like me, communicate like me. We are all different – THANK goodness for that!
4.Hot on the heals is – Assumptions, judgements or pre-conceived ideas
My rule of thumb in most cases of life and work is never assume anything, always ASK! Or find out.
We can default to making assumptions about what people meant by that comment, email or txt, in fact we can make anything MEAN anything we like, we have a choice! Isn’t that freedom?
OR we can find out what they did mean by asking a clarifying question.
Assumptions or pre-judgements about others, what they said and did is not useful for clear and effective communication, it is not useful in creating harmonious working environments, because we as humans are self-focused we often assume wrong, make it about us personally and it was nothing to do with us in the first place! Don’t even get me started on the ‘judgement’ topic!
The great news is we are all created differently, the challenging news is…..we are all created differently!
We all need each other, we could not possibly have a functioning world full of one personality type.
I prefer to see other strengths as complimentary to mine, even the ones that are so opposite and I struggle to relate to or understand, they do things well that I don’t. They are often happy doing things I am not. They often see things I don’t, and like it or not that is necessary in some situations. Our goal in the world should be to better understand others around us not seek to change them.
Tips for improving our own communication:
- Remember we are all human, not electronic robots
- We are all different and this is the GOOD news – we all need each other
- We can change our world by changing ourselves, even small tweaks have big impacts
- Check in with your default methods of communicating – are they working for you? Are they being received, responded to well? If not it may be time to find out what other way of delivery may work better.
- PICK up the phone – STOP and have a coffee/chat
- Have an arsenal of good questions to ask – the power is always in the questions we ask, ourselves and others?
- Improve your listening skills, if you are going to bother asking better questions be sure to listen to the answers, listen to understand rather than to respond.
Let’s change the world we live in, one conversation at a time
If you want more training, support or development in this area for you or your team please let us know, we are running a series of in house versions of a 1 day workshop across NZ in the next few months, and will put up more public training courses as the need arises.
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Business development, operations and communications trainer