Conflict happens regularly in life. Conflict often arises when minor disagreements go unnoticed or unaddressed and become larger issues. In other cases we experience unnecessary stress over perceived conflicts because we have been conditioned to focus on negative experiences.
How we deal with conflict has a significant impact on our health, happiness, and success in life. By overcoming emotional attachments and self-defeating attitudes we can manage conflict more easily.
No really, it’s true! At least, it’s true for me. I wouldn’t say managing conflict is easy but it can be easier than we make it. I don’t fear or avoid conflict the way I used to because I’m confident and compassionate in how I address conflict in my life today. As a result of my changed attitudes, my personal and professional relationships are greatly improved as I’ve learned to positively deal with conflict.
When it comes to conflict, here’s how I roll:
How To Deal With Conflict
“Be kind. Everyone you meet is carrying a heavy burden.” ~Ian MacLaren
You can’t go wrong with kindness. Always be kind. Be kinder than you might feel.
It’s not all about you
Other people have a right to their thoughts and feelings, just as you have a right to yours. Respect the other person’s position- at the very least recognize they have their own life to consider.
Some of it IS about you
In some situations you may defer to someone else completely but this approach isn’t helpful or healthy, either. You have a right to express yourself and address your concerns- just not at the expense of others. Just be honest about your position.
Take responsibility for yourself
The rest of the world doesn’t exist to make you happy- that’s your job! If you blame someone else for your experience you’re probably going to be unhappy most of your life.
Your happiness is up to you! In a conflict don’t expect someone else to make things right for you.
Don’t take responsibility for others
Just as your happiness is your responsibility, someone else’s happiness is their responsibility.
If you’ve done someone wrong by all means own up to it and let the other person take it from there. Make amends and let it go, even if they can’t let it go- you can’t make it right for them.
Respond, don’t react
Do you go on the defensive when facing conflict and react instead of responding? Don’t react- take a few moments to consider how you want to respond.
Remember, you don’t have to attend every argument you’re invited to and you don’t have to respond to every verbal jab.
Use emotion to inform, not define
Facing conflict is an emotionally-charged proposition. Use your emotions to inform your position and avoid allowing your feelings to determine your actions. Just because you feel anger doesn’t mean you have to act out in anger.
Is your response to the conflict Thoughtful, Honest, Inspiring, Necessary, and Kind? If not, it may be helpful to stop and re-THINK your position.
Image by Pietro IzzoJoin the Conversation
One of the most valuable skills I’ve learned in Toastmasters is how to give helpful and encouraging evaluations. I’ve learned the best feedback is constructive and motivating.
Most of us have many opportunities to give professional feedback. Managers need to give feedback regularly (not just once a year!), as do committee members, project leaders, team members, and customers. We all improve and grow from thoughtful feedback. When done well, feedback is energizing and engaging!
Giving feedback takes intentional thought, purposeful effort, and skill. Effective feedback highlights what was done well, what needs improvement, offers specific suggestions for improvement, and affirms the evaluated individual’s efforts.
How to evaluate to motivate!
Photo credit: Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos
It’s not about you
Giving feedback is not about you. Feedback is most effective when it focuses on shared, organizational, or project goals.
Assess the individual critically and without judgement. One way to do this is to consider whether or not an individual’s efforts were effective instead of sharing feedback based on whether or not you like them or what they did.
Ask questions first
Before you give feedback it can be helpful to understand the individual’s process, methods, and goals. Asking clarifying questions can help you make a thorough assessment that addresses real issues instead of evaluating based on assumptions.
When giving evaluations it’s important to be specific about what was or was not effective, and why. Use examples- lots of examples!
Make suggestions and clarify goals
If an individual’s efforts were not effective, offer suggestions for improvement and clarify goals. Make sure they understand what they need to do differently to achieve better results.
Getting right to the point will help the recipient of your feedback understand what worked, what didn’t, and how to improve.
Don’t try to soften the blow by preempting an evaluation with casual conversation as this method can be misleading and cause the individual to be surprised by your feedback.
Avoid hedging language such as “I just think”, “what you did was really good, but”, or “sort-of”, “perhaps”, “maybe”. Hedging language causes the listener to doubt your assessments.
Don’t expect perfection
No one is perfect. Mistakes are okay! Focus your evaluation on progress, not perfection. Consider where the individual is in their position, in their career, in their industry. If your expectation is based on ideals they will feel discouraged, not encouraged.
Give credit where credit is due
No effort is 100% effective or 100% ineffective. Make sure to recognize what was well done and ask for more of it! Encourage them to take it to the next level!Join the Conversation
I read an article listing the top things never to say to your boss. It was a ridiculous article that focused on the boss’s needs and made employees sound like whiny self-centered complainers, which in my professional experience this is very rarely the case.
The vast majority of people I’ve worked with throughout my career have been hard-working and dedicated employees with frustrations, struggles, and occasionally negative phrasing that is the result of bad habits not a bad attitude.
For most of us, staying on good terms at work is important, but viewing work as work and putting your boss’s needs in front of your own is not the way to live a balanced, happy, and healthy life.
Instead, I take care of myself first and do no harm to others. When I focus on me instead of everyone else, I am a better employee and a better person. When I manage my mental, emotional, and physical health I am successful in just about anything I do!
I’m going to take the focus off what your boss wants to hear and consider common phrases that don’t show you at your best. It’s not about your boss- it’s about you. This is your life, don’t you want to rock it?! Hell yeah!
6 phrases to avoid in the workplace
Assuming you’re a conscientious employee with a few bad habits, let’s take a look at some phrases that don’t show you for the awesome employee you really are!
Saying no can be a good thing, but saying “I can’t” to imply you’re not capable is unfair and untrue. (You can!)
Many years ago I would often say “I can’t” and then go on to do the thing I said I couldn’t possibly do. Unfortunately even proving myself wrong wasn’t enough to give me confidence- I had to believe in myself first.
Believe you can do anything you decide to you- you may not do it expertly, you may not even do it well, but you CAN do it!
This may be a stupid question…
Don’t call yourself stupid and you won’t appear less intelligent than you really are. When you make self-deprecating statements other people may start to see you that way. Worse yet, you may start to see you that way!
I’m here to tell you you are not stupid! No matter who you are, you’ve got smarts! You’ve got skills! You’ve got talents! Don’t sell yourself short.
I’m sorry to bother you…
You are important and so is anything you have to say. Starting off a conversation by suggesting your presence is an annoyance is undervalues your contributions in your workplace and can set a negative tone for the conversation that follows.
If you approach a co-worker and you truly feel you need to justify the interruption try, “please excuse the interruption”. Simple, effective, and respectful to you and the person you’re talking to.
Did you hear…
Anything you’ve got to say that starts with “did you hear” is usually just gossip. Maintain your good reputation with customers and co-workers by sharing your news, not anyone else’s. If it’s not about you, don’t talk about it. You’ll be more successful focusing on making the best of your day instead of focusing on what happened to someone else.
Don’t tell anyone, but…
This goes right along with “did you hear” and “I probably shouldn’t be telling you this”. Just don’t go there! You’re too awesome for gossip and any topic that is confidential needs to be kept that way. Keep the focus on yourself and your work and you’ll make great contributions to your workplace!
Complaining focusing on everything that’s wrong in your workplace and sets a negative tone to your workday. Sure, there are frustrations and annoyances at work but that’s what you talk about, that’s what you’ll keep getting. Stop complaining and you’ll enjoy work more!
3 awesome phrases to use often in the workplace
You’re awesome and you know it! Here’s some positive phrases that will boost your professional satisfaction and enhance your career success!
Gratitude can make every day a great day. Being thankful benefits you as much as it others. Gratitude helps you gain perspective and reminds you there’s something good in every day.
If someone did great, tell them! Everyone appreciates having their hard work acknowledged and it’s a great way to create a supportive, positive, and friendly workplace!
How can I help?
Being of service to others benefits you in more ways than one! When you help others you have the opportunity to share your expertise and become known as an authority on that topic. You also become part of a community that will no doubt help you some time in the future. Helping others is also a great way to expand your experience and grow by applying your expertise to new areas.
Photo Copyright (c) 123RF Stock PhotosJoin the Conversation
If you want to live a happy life, you’ve got to stop complaining! But sometimes complaining is a good thing- if you complain the right way. Complaining can be an effective way to express yourself, spark positive change, and release your stress. Enjoying the benefits of complaining is all about complaining the right way- the right way to a happier self! (Note: Complaining the right way is not the get exactly what you want way. Sorry, that way doesn’t actually exist.)
I try to avoid complaining, though I will admit sometimes a challenging situation gets the better of me and I momentarily enjoy the self-satisfaction of righteous ranting. The more other people agree my complaints are valid, the more tempted I am to repeat my complaints to someone else and get even more validation. But I know it’s a negative, unproductive cycle and one I’ve got to stop. When I have a legitimate complaint, I focus on complaining the right way to the right people.
Recently I was on the receiving end of the wrong kind of complaining. I felt berated and powerless, unable to come up with a solution while another person repeated their complaints multiple times, blaming and judging me for their perception of the problem. Not only was I unhappy, so was the person complaining. The entire situation was frustrating and demeaning to us both! This unfortunate experience could have had a positive and productive result if approached differently.
What, exactly, is the right way to complain? Here are some ideas for complaining for a positive purpose.
Complaining the right way
Put it in perspective
When you’re unhappy about something it may appear the problem is more dire than it really is. The more powerful your complaint there’s more inflation of your negative perception of a potentially neutral situation. It’s rarely as bad as it feels.
Own your part
Whatever your complaints about another person, organization, or situation, know that only you are responsible for your own happiness and well-being. When you complain the right way you own your part and accept responsibility for your actions and reactions. The best part of accepting responsibility for yourself is having greater influence over your own health and happiness.
Could you have been more communicative? Were you clear about your expectations? Did the other person have all the information? Do you fully understand the situation? Do they fully understand the situation?
Often complaints are built on assumptions or judgments. Perhaps your complaint isn’t really about what someone else did but your expectations, which may or may not be realistic. Maybe there are really good reasons they did what they did. Maybe they just made a one-time mistake (mistakes are okay!).
Asking a few simple questions about the situation can diffuse a your disappointment and provide an opportunity to clarify what really went wrong.
It’s never a good idea to communicate when you’re angry. Take a break, get some space, and calm down before sharing your complaints. You can express your concerns more effectively when you’re not emotionally charged.
Tell the right person
If you have a complaint, go directly to the source. Telling your complaints to everyone but the person you’re upset with is just gossiping. It undermines your reputation.
Say it once, and only once
If you repeat your complaints over and over again you are trap yourself in a cycle of negative thinking and your legitimate complaining becomes bullying!
Image courtesy of P Shanks
Be kind and respectful
Every person deserves to be treated with kindness and respect. If the situation were reversed, think about how you’d want to be treated. You have a legitimate complaint and still other people deserve your respect.
If they aren’t being kind and respectful to you, be the bigger person! Don’t stoop to their level. Be someone you are proud to be!
Keep it productive
You have more to gain by focusing on solutions instead of problems. Voice your complaint and follow it up with a solution. How could the situation be improved? What could be done differently next time?
Make a change
Sometimes complaining the right way won’t improve your situation. If a situation is not working for you, you have choices about how you respond- you can choose to make a change. You can change your attitude, change your behavior, or change your situation. You’re never as stuck as you think you are.
Let it go
You’ve complained the right way so what’s next? Let it go! Don’t hold grudges. Don’t keep score. The past cannot be changed and the future is not yet determined. The more you hold on to your complaints, the more likely your reality will match your perceptions.Join the Conversation
When I joined Toastmasters International seven months ago I didn’t know how much I would grow and how much fun I’d have doing it! Toastmasters has been an amazing experience and I want to tell you just what’s so great about it.
Toastmasters International is an educational organization that teaches communication, public speaking, and leadership skills. What I have gained from Toastmasters is all that and more. Being a Toastmaster is investing in myself and my best possible future. This blog is all about living a great, happy, fun, and full life and Toastmasters is one way I make that awesome life happen.
In addition to communication, public speaking, and leadership skills I have enjoyed quite a few unexpected and amazing benefits- here’s my top 3:
Speaking in Toastmasters provides new challenges and plenty of opportunities to be proud of your accomplishments. The more you expand your skills and talents, the more confidence you have in yourself!
Self confidence builds trust in others. People want to listen to someone who is confident in what they have to say and how they say it.
When I started in Toastmasters I wasn’t lacking confidence; I had a healthy dose of self-confidence that helped me get started in the club. What I didn’t expect was how my confidence would grow and where that new confidence would take me. Thanks to Toastmasters I’ve tried new things I wouldn’t have tried before.
Toastmasters is a friendly environment where people are genuinely interested in each other. Toastmasters works because it’s welcoming, positive and supportive with each and every member playing a role in the every other member’s growth and success.
Join Toastmasters and you’ll find you’ve become friends with people you wouldn’t know otherwise. You get to know members and they get to know you as you learn to appreciate and encourage the best in everyone you meet.
I have many friends in my Toastmasters club, people I spend time with outside the club that I consider true friends. Some of these friends are very different from me and I have enjoyed getting to know my fellow Toastmasters well enough to consider them friends.
Every Toastmaster receives heaps of encouragement and the best part is you’re encouraged to be your best self. Every Toastmaster has inherent talents and a wonderfully unique perspective to share. Toastmasters is all about encouraging yourself and others to be as awesome as you can be.
As a Toastmaster you share specific, positive, and constructive feedback and by doing so invest in your fellow member’s success as much as your own. You celebrate the victory of every member’s accomplishments.
I have especially enjoyed helping my fellow members develop through encouraging them in their progress in the Toastmasters program. It’s a wonderful experience to be part of something bigger than myself and watch my fellow Toastmasters grow!
I’m grateful for the confidence, friendship and encouragement that comes with being a member a Toastmasters. In addition to these great benefits there are many other awesome skills I’ve gained in Toastmasters such as:
- becoming a more effective communicator
- improving my grammar and vocabulary
- exercising time management skills
- being a great listener
- learning to give specific, positive, and helpful feedback
- speaking to inspire
- speaking to entertain
- speaking to inform (without boring!)
- give presentations that don’t suck!
- responding intelligently to impromptu questions
- leading meetings with authority and assurance
- being heard and understood when I speak
- leading by example
There are many benefits of being a Toastmaster and I hope you check it out but if Toastmasters is not for you I encourage you to challenge yourself in a different venue that helps you learn and grow. Go out there and live your best life!
I love your comments! Have you ever tried Toastmasters? What did you enjoy most about being a Toastmasters? If you haven’t tried it, would you? Why or why not?Join the Conversation