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Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 4:52 PM
— No one expects to navigate the work world without the occasional argument. And it's nice to "win" when you're in the right.
But what really matters more than besting your manager or co-workers in an argument is how you handle the conflicts that are an inevitable part of work, according to a Forbes piece co-written by Travis Bradberry and Joseph Grenny.
"A persistent finding in both of our research is that your ability to handle moments of conflict has a massive impact on your success," they said. "How you handle conflict determines the amount of trust, respect and connection you have with your colleagues."
Psychologist Susan Krauss Whitbourne gave tips for winning arguments in any setting in Psychology Today, borrowing ideas from Israeli psychologist Eran Halperin about political conflict and interpreting them on a personal, rather than global, level.
"In an argument, your appraisal that you're losing, your belief that you need to be 'right' and the extent to which you like the other person can all have an impact on the emotions you experience," she wrote. "Your emotions can also get aroused by the desire to gain the respect of onlookers - no one enjoys being made to look ignorant in front of others, and when you feel that you're being made the fool, your outrage only increases."
Anger pretty much kills your ability to win an argument in any sense of the word "win," Whitbourne said. Instead of building to an outraged furor, she recommended six key, argument-winning tools:
Know your facts
Whitbourne reminded people of all the times they made a claim about a bit of trivia, quickly realized they were wrong, and then stuck to their guns anyhow. "This is not an ideal way to win (or enter) an argument." Stop and think before you make a blooper and you'll be less likely to lose an argument, whether it's trivial or actually important to your career.
Prepare to acknowledge the other person's point of view
You don't have to agree with your foe, but if you want to win the argument, "you do need to be able to see the world the way your opponent does. Stepping into the mental set of those you argue with allows you to figure out what's influencing them. Perhaps they're feeling threatened, anxious, or annoyed. Perhaps they know something that you don't. In any case, showing empathy will lower the temperature of the debate."
Try to be, or at least seem, open-minded
"Becoming defensive is one of the worst ways to win an argument. Don't let your opponent sense that you're digging into your position without being willing to consider alternatives. And if you let your opponent speak, he might come to your side without your having to do anything other than listen."
Keep your emotions in check
Halperin's research revealed how important emotions are in determining your ability to appraise situations. "If you lose your temper, you'll only antagonize your opponent, which will further heighten his or her wrath, and the process can only escalate upwards," Whitbourne explained. Worried that you'll seem weak if you suddenly become calm in the middle of the argument? Don't worry. You'll gain points by showing self-control.
Stay hopeful that the argument can be resolved
Arguments can stir up negative emotions. If you're in the midst of a screaming fest, it's tough to envision a resolution where you still have your dignity intact. But strive to stay optimistic. "Invoking the feeling of hope allows you to think more clearly, leading to the possibility that you'll win by sheer force of logic." If you believe there's a way out, you're more likely to find one. "This is what happens in ordinary problem-solving, when thinking outside of the box can help all sides come up with a solution. Such an 'aha' moment in an argument can lead you straight to victory."
Respect your opponent
You may not emerge as the clear victor in an argument, or you may get your way but make your business relationship worse. It's important not to insult or degrade your opponent during the conflict. "Even if the individual is someone you'll never see again, it's still important to show that you meant 'nothing personal' in the dispute."
Published: Tuesday, February 13, 2018 @ 7:26 AM
— Remember when the presidential election was over and everyone breathed a sigh of relief, thinking we could all go back to talking about sports and kids, not politics?
Of course, that's not what happened at all: Contentious political conversations abound everywhere, from Facebook to daycare to the corner bar.
But when they spring up in the workplace, awkward can become inappropriate.
"No good comes from it," Alec Beck, a labor and employment attorney at Ford Harrison in Minneapolis, told Inc. "All it does is make people mad."
But staying away from political talks in the workplace is about as easy as keeping it secret that someone put out doughnuts in the break room.
(Note: If you are the one who thinks you have every right to speak politics in the workplace, hold it right there. Not only are Freedom of Speech rights not protected in the workplace, you may also inadvertently be veering into issues of race, gender, age or religion, which are protected by the federal Civil Rights Act's Title VII. )
Still, trying to steer away from political conversations is a win-win strategy, according to Gregg Ward, author of "The Respectful Leader: Seven Ways To Influence Without Intimidation," told Inc.
Buy time. When co-workers are hanging out and someone asks you if you saw the latest news or something an elected official said about a particular issue, "play dumb," Ward advised. "Someone with a strong opinion will go into teaching mode instead of venting emotionally. This gives you time to listen and respond appropriately."
Look for common ground. To give the impression that you're still involved in the conversation, respond in a way that's completely true but still impartial. Ward recommended saying, "I think we can all agree that's a very controversial (or loaded or difficult or challenging) topic."
Be authentic, not transparent. It's hard to work with someone everyday and not mention [recent political developments], Liane Davey, co-founder of 3COze Inc. told Harvard Business Review. But you don't need to get drawn in just because the topic comes up.
"Being authentic doesn't equal transparent," she said. "Don't be a Clinton supporter in the women's washroom and a Trump supporter with your boss, but you also don't need to be fully candid about everything you think and feel."
Artfully shift the conversation toward a neutral subject, Davey suggested, or focus on related topics that aren't candidate specific, like the lack of nonpartisan media coverage. "Speak about the process, not the candidate," she said.
Employ a bit of humor. You may be able to avoid a lengthy political discussion by poking a little fun at the instigator, according to Ward. "If they're a halfway decent person you can look at them with a big smile and say, 'Tell us what you really think' and they'll realize they've gone over the top," he said.
Disengage. If you find that you can't keep your cool, take responsibility for being frustrated and angry, and exit the conversation, HBR recommended. But if a colleague's incessant political talk is both "grating and distracting," speak directly to your colleague in simple straightforward terms that indicate you don't want to talk and you're getting back to work now.
Ward added that none of these tactics will work with a sociopath. "If somebody's a true sociopath what I generally say is, 'You'll have to excuse me -- I have to use the restroom,' and I will literally walk away," he said. "I'm not going to win with that person. They are going to cause an explosion."
So if we're not talking politics, what will we say instead?
Published: Tuesday, February 13, 2018 @ 5:18 PM
— Kudos! You've moved up the corporate ladder and are on top of your career. That's right: You're now the boss.
However, managing a department, division or corporation doesn't mean it's time to lean back in your office chair and prop up your feet. Yet, this type of lax approach to leadership is often seen in executive positions across various industries and unfortunately ends in employee turnover.
The bigger the title, the bigger the managerial responsibility of ensuring you and your professional posse are meeting company goals and expectations, correct? Not necessarily so. Some bosses are actually better at abusing this crucial role than excelling in it.
Emmanuel Little, director of Georgia’s first and only Call Me MiSTER program designed to train students of diverse backgrounds to become talented teachers, warns about the following pitfalls of making bad boss moves and how to prevent them.
So new business owners, principals, presidents or directors should avoid these common administrative blunders if the aim is to build a loyal, successful team for years ahead:
Not leading by example. If you expect workers to put in overtime and interrupt their personal lives to meet project deadlines, show them you're in it to win it with them. Employees appreciate and respect bosses who show up early and leave late along with them, which sets a tone of togetherness. “It’s about practicing what you preach,” said Little, who launched the high school to higher education mentoring program four years ago at Georgia College in Milledgeville. “The biggest way to do that is to model what you want your team to produce, and they will respect you for that. Showing your team instead of always telling them goes a long way.”
Not giving credit where credit is due. If an employee is alleviating responsibilities from your plate and doing a darn good job at it, don't steal their contribution thunder by not acknowledging their efforts to make you look good. Make sure you genuinely express gratitude for their dedication to the task at hand, and if higher-ups brag about the results as well, don't hesitate to recognize the one who covered your back. “It’s important to have different ways of recognizing the ones who are producing exceptional work,” Little said. “Lack of recognition could potentially create negative effects in morale and productivity. You want to make sure your team knows that you care, so figure out how you can uplift and celebrate them when they’ve gone above the call of duty.”
Not compensating hard workers. Employees who constantly produce undeniable results that bring award-winning company recognition, new business and significant solutions to business problems should know they're valued. Promotions, bonuses and raises show these hard workers their talent and time spent on projects is appreciated and deserves compensation that matches their skill set. “Most of the time decision makers have power over resources, so if you’re that person in your division or office, really consider opportunities to compensate your hardest workers,” said Little, “and that doesn’t always mean money in the pocket. Maybe its paying for them to attend a national conference for professional development, self-care days, gift cards or office birthday parties. They need to know they’re seen as assets, not just workers.”
Not considering diverse discourse. Blocking out team members' options, ideas or views to improve office workflow can potentially decrease productivity and morale. Employees may feel as though they don't have a voice or serve as a true stakeholder within the brand. Ignoring simple suggestions from workers that could benefit daily operations or demanding assignments could lead to top performers leaving for better work environments — or worse — a similar position with the company's competition. “Bosses have to be very intentional with placing diverse team members into positions where each one of their voices can be heard,” he said.
“Encouraging them to participate on boards and committees across the company brings intersections of identity to the table and helps account for blind spots in the organization. Greater diversity and inclusion leads to greater success and efficiency.”
Not offering advancement opportunities. The more your team members know, the more they can successfully execute roles and responsibilities. Hindering or failing to make employees aware of career advancement conferences or events that will give them elevation edge only stifles their creativity and ability to become influential change agents within the company. Showing your constant support to their growth motivates them to continue to perform well, according to Entrepreneur.com.
“Bosses also have to be proactive with putting their team into positions that will challenge and improve their skills,” Little said. “Opening up opportunities for them to grow only strengthens their talent level and elevates the organizaton by keeping everyone on the path of producing the best results possible. So identify your team’s abilities, cultivate those abilities and watch how the team excels together.”
Not holding oneself, unproductive employees accountable. Slackers always rub diligent workers the wrong way, according to a piece on how to be an effective team by Fast Company. When the boss and colleagues habitually communicate that meeting deadlines and achieving goals is not a big deal, it only says to those who take their position seriously that the organization is counterproductive to career and company growth. “Bosses need to outline and articulate clear expectations,” said Little. “If you can’t hold yourself accountable, how can you expect any type of accountability from your team? So set straightforward expectations for everyone and eliminate gray areas. That’s why assessments like annual employee evaluations are critical to track the team’s progress.”
Not operating with a humble heart. Employees lose interest in know-it-all bosses quickly. Let's face it: Information and the way companies do business changes every day. Some bosses welcome novel strategies to reach brand objectives; others deflect it and would rather stick with what they know — even if it's not working. From the newest employees to veterans, it doesn't hurt to pick their business brains to learn modern or unconventional approaches to increase output and improve the company culture. “Bosses have to remember: It’s not about you,” Little said. “The mission of the organization is bigger than you. The best leaders want to create teams that help sustain organizations and initiatives long after they’re gone. You want to stay connected to the mission/vision of the business, advancing it and not your ego. So if the team has solutions to make the organization better, listen to them.”
Published: Wednesday, February 07, 2018 @ 11:41 AM
— Are you one of those anal-retentive employees? It's OK. Be honest with your professional self.
Maybe you constantly bug co-workers about due dates as if they didn't already know or are a super stickler for how team members use company supplies. And that's not always a bad thing, right?
The crisis communicator. This personality always freaks out about office events like deadlines, new hires, resignations or company shifts. This person doesn't like assignment surprises or getting out of his comfort zone.
If you're this type of worker: Whenever real emergency situations arise, you're the perfect person to panic for the entire team. The other good thing is that employers will always know how you genuinely feel — instantly gaining your gut reaction to tackle and execute the tasks at hand.
In a Psychology Today article, emotions expert and author Alice Boyes shared that these worry wart ways are at times advantageous because anxious workers usually have Plan B and C prepared.
The polite pushover. This personality is never combative and will work no matter the chaotic office conditions.
If you're this type of worker: Employers can trust that you will consider everyone's feelings, backgrounds and rationales. You’re always respectful of others, which often leads to transformative benefits for the entire team.
The negative Nancy. This personality finds loom and doom in every move the company makes or when collaborating with certain co-workers on team assignments.
If you're this type of worker: At least your boss and/or colleagues know what you're thinking. And bluntly bringing awareness to company cons can help improve morale and productivity. And when projects don’t turn out as expected, you’re less likely to become upset, according to social psychologist Kate Sweeny, who was cited in a Society for Personality and Social Psychology article.
The office overachiever. This personality will go above and beyond the call of duty time again and typically doesn't take "can't" attitudes lightly.
If you're this type of worker: Employers can definitely count on you to pick up the slack of procrastinators and keep senior leadership in the know about inefficient, time-wasting workers not worthy of their positions.
Tim Eisenhauer, co-founder of Axero Solutions and the first company intranet software, Communifire, told Inc. Magazine that these are usually your “big idea” folks who push production to new heights.
The manic micromanager. This personality nags and helicopter parents the daily activities of people and projects within their direct supervision.
If you're this type of worker: Yes, this overbearing demeanor is irritating, but employers appreciate your unwavering devotion to meeting goals, conserving resources and paying attention to operational details.
Published: Wednesday, February 07, 2018 @ 1:24 PM
— To err is human and every human's workday is full of the easily-corrected, quickly forgotten type of mistakes. But when you screw up big time on the job, you're facing a much more difficult challenge.
"If we make mistakes in our personal lives, we can cope by working through it with the people closest to us," noted LinkedIn influencer Ilya Pozin, founder of Ciplex. "But if we make a mistake at work, we often jeopardize our professional reputation. And your professional reputation is essentially the foundation upon which your personal brand rests."
No one's saying you meant to lose the client, forget the materials in a city far from the presentation, wreck the tow truck or accidentally send a blistering email about your boss to the whole office. And if everyone quit immediately after making a big mistake at work, most people probably wouldn't have jobs for long.
The better option: bounce back. "It is in your best interest to limit the damage from a mistake and, most importantly, learn all you can from it," noted John Caddell, analytic services leader at Nexidia, posting at 99u.
Step back and breathe.
This first step is essential, according to Pozin.
"It can be easy to get worked up over our own failings, but we can't internalize self-hate when we make mistakes. Don't take action until you assess the situation and take a moment to clear your head. "Even if the problem is big, being overly stressed or anxious impedes your ability to think clearly and bounce back quickly," Pozin added.
Once you've settled down a bit, take the time to map out what went down during your mistake, University of Minnesota management professor Alfred Marcus told Entrepreneur. Think about what went wrong and why. "Don't rationalize it away," Marcus said. He also suggested asking a mentor or friend with an outside perspective to keep you accountable.
Foster a sense of urgency.
Don't let your mistakes simmer, however much you'd like the whole situation to disappear without any effort from you. "Work mistakes aren't the end of the world," Pozin stated. "Still, healing mistakes does require action on your part. Own up to your mistakes sooner rather than later if you want continued trust from your higher-ups and fellow employees."
Own your mistake.
So you feel like circumstances were against you, or somebody you were counting on failed you, or you were having a bad day? Too bad, Caddell said. "According to Justin Menkes' wonderful book Better Under Pressure, truly great leaders don't blame others when things go wrong," he noted. "They instead have a high 'sense of agency,' which is 'the degree to which people attribute their circumstances and the outcomes they experience to being within their own control.'"
Put aside any urges to place blame on others, even if it's convenient and might go over with the rest of your work group, Pozin advised. "This will only worsen your situation, and can lead others to distrust you in the future."
Offer a fix.
"Healing work mistakes means being proactive about coming up with a solution," Pozin advised. "Offer a few solutions to your boss, manager, or co-worker, but be open to their feedback, too. If you've gotten yourself into a mess, you may need help to get out of it."
Avoid the temptation to be a "quiet fixer," added Caddell. "Mistakes often have side effects, and pretending that it didn't happen is dangerous."
Take a lesson from former Toyota chairman Katsuaki Watanabe. "If problems are revealed for everyone to see, I will feel reassured," he told Harvard Business Review. "Once problems have been visualized, even if our people didn't notice them earlier, they will rack their brains to find solutions to them."
Make it a real apology, Caddell advised, like, "I'm sorry I caused your group all that downtime." Avoid apologies that sound "lame and self-protective," he added. Don't say, "I wish it hadn't happened," for example.
Address the root cause.