A disagreement isn’t the place for multi-tasking because doing conflict better means really paying attention. Here are the 3 top multi-tasking mistakes you can make during a dispute.
- Doing anything else while the other person’s talking. When you do something else when someone’s talking to you, you send the message that the conversation with them isn’t worth your focus. This may not be a faux pas during ordinary conversation. But during conflict, when people are hyper-alert for slights, they may assume you don’t really care and it’ll escalate the conflict. So put that paper down. Take your hands away from the keyboard. Close the file cabinet. Give the other person your full attention for a few minutes. What a difference it’ll make!
- Listening with your answer running. Pretending you’re listening when you are, in fact, focused on preparing your response, denial, offense or defense, results in two mistakes for the price of one. People can tell when you’re not really listening and once again, you send the message that they’re not important. And when you don’t really listen, you miss information that could be critically important. You cannot listen and prepare your response at the same time. Get out of your own head and give the other person your full brain for a few minutes. You may be surprised by what you learn.
- Taking notes. If you’re an HR office or manager, you may be tempted to take notes for your files. It makes you look authoritative and can be handy for later reference. Note-taking, though, sends the message that you don’t think the problem is going to resolved and that you’ll need the notes for some kind of later action. It also suggests that you might use those notes formally and has a slightly coercive feel. So put the pen down. Close the laptop lid. Look into the other person’s eyes and pay attention. You can take a few minutes for notes later and they’ll probably be more thorough because you really listened.