Failing to ask effectively for what we want is the stuff of low-grade irritation that, over time, can become a source of chronic tension. Here’s a ridiculously simple way to ask more effectively, be more persuasive without manipulating, and increase the odds a small favor will be granted.
These articles explore word choice, questions, good listening skills and habits, body language, and the kind of careful attention to others that together shape effective communication for preventing and responding to conflict.
Whether we’re participants in a conflict conversation or mediating it, creating space for a question to be contemplated before answering is a powerful gift. When we fill the space out of our own discomfort with the silence, we inadvertently smother the possibility of a deeper answer.
When you want an idea to be considered on its merits, it can be very hard to overcome two aspects of human nature that get in the way. If you want to reduce resistance and create space for the idea to get thoughtful consideration, how you frame your proposal can make all the difference.
When we’re stuck in conflict, sometimes it’s the questions we’re asking ourselves or our sparring partner. To ask better questions in conflict, try this surprisingly useful trick.
It is a special gift to bring a non-judgmental presence into the room with you. When we’re in conflict that’s been going on for a while, we already feel judged enough. Judged by our conflict partner. Judged by those who have watched it unfold, such as co-workers, managers, family members. Judged by ourselves, late at […]
When you say you’re listening, which type of listening are you really practicing? Of the five types, there’s only one that will help you resolve conflict better, be more persuasive, and strengthen the personal or business relationship.
Who is going to change the dance steps?
Ting is the Chinese character for “to listen.” It reminds us of some of the most important components of good listening. Here’s a PDF download of the character.
How we frame matters. How we frame our offer, our doubt, our idea, our concern can make the difference between being heard and being ignored, between interest and aversion, between succeeding and stumbling.
When we’re truly listening we have to anticipate that we might become changed by what we heard, says acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton, founder of The One Square Inch of Silence Foundation based in Joyce, Washington.
Over the years many readers of this blog have shared with me their favorite conflict resolution videos, particularly the funny ones that teach a good, brief lesson at the same time. Here’s one that demonstrates the difference between an artificial apology and a real one.
Going into a difficult conversation with a little forethought is wise indeed. Being curious and figuring out in advance what you want to understand better is also wise. But don’t become so wedded to your list of questions that they get in your way. There is a better way to ask good questions.
3 types of good questions.
My husband and I have shorthand for communicating about how my day went when I walk through the door in the evening. Since my work is confidential, there’s virtually nothing I can tell him about my day with clients. So he asks, “Is it a wine night? Or…a whiskey night?” Most of the time the […]
I overheard this conversation recently at a dog agility trial: Woman 1: My dog has stopped liking jumps. So I’ve started rewarding again after every jump when we’re training. Woman 2: You should try tossing a ball to the dog after he goes over the jump. Woman 1: Well, my dog’s not really one who […]
When he was 15 years old, audio engineering pioneer Bob Heil learned how to tune pipe organs. What he learned then about listening led to a client list that reads like the Who’s Who of 60’s and 70’s rock and roll…The Who. The Grateful Dead. Jeff Beck. Joe Walsh. Peter Frampton. I heard Heil interviewed […]
Ring the bells that still can ring Forget your perfect offering There is a crack in everything That’s how the light gets in – Leonard Cohen, Anthem Forget your perfect offering. In conflict and conflict resolution your perfect offering gets in the way. It gets in the way if you’re so worried about saying exactly […]
Our evening news recently carried a story about a man who held utility line workers by gunpoint, angry that his power hadn’t been restored yet and demanding they do it immediately. My husband and I listened to the story on our battery-operated radio, in what was our 8th New Hampshire day without power or phone […]
Frequent and poorly delivered criticism is a breeder of conflict in personal and work relationships. Constant criticism tends to create a call-and-response pattern that’s none too pleasant and can slowly erode the relationship’s foundations. If you feel constantly criticized, here’s how to begin changing the dynamic by changing how you respond. A participant at one […]
Effective questions are as much about attitude as they are about word choice. Even poorly phrased questions can be reprieved when asked from an attitude of curiosity and interest instead of an attitude of judgment or doubt.
Imagine getting a phone call from the gardener at your out-of-state family home. Now imagine your gardener telling you that your house and your belongings are nowhere to be seen. That’s the call a Dallas woman received recently about her family home in Jackson, Mississippi. It turns out that a Jackson State University contractor demolished […]
It’s funny how frequently people introduce me as an anger management specialist. It used to puzzle me, because I didn’t think of myself that way. But I get it now: When I help you express disagreement and negotiate more effectively, I’m also helping you manage your emotional state better. Here, then, are my three simplest […]
“Monkey mind” is the experience of jumping from thought to thought, like a monkey swinging from branch to branch, lured by yet another piece of fruit even while the piece in his hand is only partially eaten. In interpersonal conflict, monkey mind is the numbing, confusing chatter in your mind every time you think about […]
What are you up to on International Women’s Day, Saturday, March 8? I’ll be celebrating the annual, global event by keynoting the kickoff to Seacoast Women’s Week in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The kickoff event is a benefit for Womenaid Portsmouth, a non-profit providing short-term financial assistance to women and families in need of help. I’ve […]
What can you learn about listening from a good mediator? We don’t listen with our answer running. Instead, we listen with our ears tuned to the curiosity channel.
A reader has asked me what makes dialogue “genuine,” a question prompted by my use of the phrase, “Jump-start genuine dialogue.” When I’m coaching a workplace team or a couple in the creation of genuine dialogue around change, conflict or key decisions to be made, I use these criteria for assessing the quality of dialogue:
Jean Gogolin is a wordwright. And it turns out she knows a thing or two about apologizing effectively, too. A wordwright, in Jean’s words, is an “artisan with words. Someone who builds with language like a shipwright builds ships…and teaches others how to do it.” I first met Jean out a meeting of our local […]
My husband and I had a tiff the other day. We got a little snarky with one another over…well, I can’t recall what it was over. That says something, doesn’t it? Hopefully not about premature senior moments. R marched down to his office. I sat on the couch and stared out at the remnants of […]
My Man from the Midwest, R, is a major Seinfeld fan. He still tunes in old episodes many evenings, though they’re all pretty well known to him already. I enjoyed Seinfeld when it was originally on t.v. but am not generally someone who wants to see any show again and again…and again. But Elaine came […]
Have you ever been in a meeting where the chair asked something like, "Does that plan sound ok to everyone?" Perhaps there was a brief pause, an assenting remark or two, a couple of nods and silence from the rest. "All right, then it’s a go," the chair may have said. Silence does not mean […]