This is a guest post by Dan Rockwell, leadership and management expert and author of the popular Leadership Freak blog.
Sometimes it is the simplest actions that can help you resolve a conflict quickly, or avoid one all together. When you sense things are heating up, use one or more of these strategies:
1. Don’t focus on winning or losing; focus on achieving objectives.
2. Interrupting to make your point is pointless.
3. Be smart not right. You aren’t finding the right answer; you’re searching for the better alternative.
4. Focus on progress rather than perfect solutions.
5. Trying to solve the past is futile; you can, however, move in better directions.
6. Give ground on peripheral or non-essential points.
7. Keep things simple. Complexity stalls solutions.
8. Never tell someone what they think; ask them.
9. Never let someone tell you what you think.
10. Your “opponent” will use over-statements and unrealistic conclusions to invalidate your goals. Don’t listen.
11. Your opponent will make you angry. When they do, you lose.
12. Keep an open posture.
13. Remove barriers and obstacles. Create a clear path across the table or desk. Better yet step away from the desk.
14. Physically align yourself with them. Rather than face-to-face, stand beside.
15. Talk while taking a walk.
16. Be pleasant but not jovial.
17. When they raise their voice, lower yours.
18. Use “and” more than “but” because “but” is an eraser. For example, I agree with you but …, diminish agreements.
19. Show respect; don’t get personal.
20. Identify your opponent’s objectives and agree where possible. Help them win before you win.
21. Explore your opponent’s options.
22. Address your opponent’s fears.
23. Use experts and research.
24. Speak to the heart – if they have one.
25. Stay on point. Distractions are normal.
Bonus: Solve issues before arguments erupt.
More on conflict from the Kevin Eikenberry Group:
- Don’t Shut Down Emotions During Conflicts—If You Want a Quick Resolution
- Avoid Poison Questions That Escalate Conflict
- Your Power of Choice in Conflict Resolution
Dan writes the popular Leadership Freak blog. You can follow Dan on Twitter, connect on LinkedIn, like his page on Facebook, or circle him on Google+. This post originally appeared on the Leadership Blog as “25 Ways to End Arguments.”