How to cut workplace argument by 50%

How to Cut Workplace Argument by 50%?!


Person one: Why didn’t you answer my email? Do you think Urgent means Optional? My whole afternoon’s schedule was thrown out because you dragged your feet!

Person two: What email? I never received any email! Here, check my inbox!

Person one: ah…

How many times do we jump to conclusions just to later find out we were mistaken? When we accuse someone of poor behaviour or motivation without evidence it directly affects the relationship. In some cases that relationship is irreparably damaged.

In HNI’s Mastering the Art of Effective Communication workshop we explain why it’s important to verify and confirm so that you don’t jump to any mistaken conclusions. In the above example, a simple question such as “did you receive the email I sent you yesterday?” could have prevented unnecessary confrontation and the resulting embarrassment for both the accused and the accuser.

Asking and getting the facts sounds so simple but it’s often easier said than done. We tend to interpret things based on our own view of the world instead of giving our companions the benefit of the doubt.

For example, if someone is always late one might assume the person lacks commitment or motivation, is undisciplined, or does not value the companies time. But if you were to dig deeper you might find that their car was totalled a few months back and they are under financial hardship, that they’re relying on others for transport to and from work. Or maybe they have a family member that needs their support and care every morning. You might make critical remarks yet then end up apologising for what you’ve said. But the damage is already done – you can’t undo the damage done and the fact that you thought ill of them.

Asking for details is very simple yet very powerful. It’s crucial to learn and practice this extra step before entering any confrontational situation. Before you make any potential misstep, turn your sentence into a question. Here are few examples:

Assumption: I have asked you to send that report once ready. We don’t pay you to sit around doing nothing!

Question: I haven’t received that report yet. Can you tell me when I can expect it, please?

Assumption: I thought you were a friend, but I heard you were gossiping about me at the lounge. You are such a two-faced…

Question: I heard you were talking about me in the lounge. Is there anything I need to know or can help you with?

Sometimes it is the simple solutions that work the best. Question first. Facts before fighting. If you verify facts before jumping to conclusions, you’ll see a huge drop in workplace confrontations – you may even see an improvement in the workplace atmosphere too!
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