Friday, December 12, 2014

Three Methods of Mastering Your Mouth for Career Conflict Outcomes

“It is not what you say but how you say it that counts.” Our ability to say the right things at the time they are needed is a very important skill in developing stronger working relationships and advancing our careers. Without a keen mastery of the nuances of language and the emotional intelligence to choose the right timing for choice words it will be difficult for people to advance in their careers. Mastering your mouth can have advantages in workplace conflict.

Let us assume for a minute you are sitting in a board room brooding over the decisions and comments of a meeting member. Instead of working in a collaborative manner he or she is attempting to push their weight around and bully the group into accepting their ideas as their own. This is extremely frustrating to you. The behavior is so destructive that it creates encampment on the team, raises the stress levels, and seems to make everyone agitated.

In business there may be a time and place for a pushy executive that can cram their opinions through a team to make things happen. This is most beneficial in crisis situations but destructive in strategic planning. Despite its advantages in limited situations it can also show a serious lack of respect for the abilities of others and the ability to engage a wider group of stakeholders. The emotional infant has risen.

Before becoming angry and challenging the person directly and publicly it is beneficial to first sit back and think about alternatives that may be more effective in handling this situation.  You may be screaming on the inside and wanting to push back with equal force but a pitched battle could have a disastrous result for the team and the achievement of team goals; not to mention your own career. 

In my experience there are three ways to deal with such an over aggressive person who doesn't seem to understand either the needs or concerns of others. You can 1.) confront, 2.) redirect, or 3.) befriend. Each has their own level of success in helping master the situation.

1.) Confront: Confront is the most common and entails either direct equal force verbal attacks and bullying. An eye for an eye mentality showing the other person you are not going to back down and they must accept your issues. Other variations include escalating the problem to superiors or undermining the bully in subtle ways. One may work sometimes and another may fail disastrously. When a hyper aggressive bully has no sense of common decency you may need to draw a red line and stick to it.

2.) Redirect: Redirecting is the most successful method but does take considerable skill to master well. When an pushy person is sure they are right it is often beneficial to draw them into a conversation by encouraging greater elaboration as well as questioning of their logic. Boisterous individuals love to talk about themselves and drawing them in, redirecting, and drawing in again will help slowly adjust their logic into something more beneficial for the group.

3.) Befriending: Not all pushy people are trying to force their will on others and may actually be defending their needs by posturing. If you suspect the person is really trying to do the right thing but doesn't know how to negotiate well it is better to befriend them and become a sounding board for their needs in a more appropriate manner. You may help the group better bridge the gaps between the varying parties while gaining the trust of each member.

The workplace is always full of different conflicts, problems, and personalities. With a little practice and foresight you can better manager your mouth for a higher outcome. It is an interpersonal skill that takes some time but will place you in a leadership position more through wisdom then brute strength. You will avoid destructive battles that can damage your career while improving on your leadership position within the organization.

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