How to Keep Your Cool When Things Get Heated

At some point, you will have a disagreement with someone at work. It could be a supervisor, co-worker or client. When this happens, what is the best way to handle it so it doesn’t escalate, and you can resolve the issue?

Here are a few tips for conflict resolution:

1. Get some space

When people get upset, tempers flare and emotions become volatile. The first thing to do is defuse the situation. The best course of action for all involved is to get a little breathing room. Take a break. Get some fresh air. Take a walk. This will help everyone to calm down.

2. Think about the disagreement

After you have calmed down, think about the nature of your disagreement with the other person with a focus on finding the cause. Most disagreements center around one of three things – a difference of opinion about certain facts; a difference of opinion on how to interpret the facts; and friction in how people relate to each other.

Remember that finding a resolution is not about winning or being right. First, think about the other person’s position. Do you fully understand their point of view? Thinking objectively, could it have some merit?

Think about your own position. Can you state clearly and directly what your position is, and could there be problems with it?

3. Work things out

In working out the conflict, you must do it face-to-face. Avoid using email as a means of communication in this situation. When you get together, focus on the issues and not the person. Make your conversation goal-oriented. Begin by looking for areas of agreement you might be able to build on.

When talking with the other person, you need to be open-minded and truly listen. This means following the person’s argument and trying to understand it rather than simply biding your time until you can talk and score some points of your own.

If something is not clear, you need to question the other person so they can clarify their position.

After you have both had the opportunity to state your positions, you can begin to suggest tentative resolutions.

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