We’ve all been in meetings or discussions with others when we felt the tension rising and conflict heading into full swing. Egos are powerful things; who doesn’t like to be right? But being right isn’t always the objective in moving a project or issue forward. In fact, nothing will send a conversation into conflict faster than someone (or several people) needing to be right.
When I teach service recovery or conflict resolution techniques, I talk about the need to first suspend judgment of others or assume a neutral position. By doing this, one is much more likely to fully hear the other person. Another great trick is to begin discussion with positive intention. Your intention will drive the outcome. For instance, if your intention is to win an argument, you will dig in and defend your position at all costs. But, if your intention is to seek solutions, you’ll be open to what others offer. Seeking common ground by recognizing a shared vision is also a very unifying strategy. In this case, you might say, “I think we both want what’s best for [the team, the department, the patient, etc.].” Using inclusive language like we and us is unifying and can help diffuse unnecessary conflict; inclusive language reminds the other party or parties that everyone wants the same thing.
The next time you find yourself inching into a conflict, do a quick check on your intentions. Park the ego at the door and ask yourself if needing to be right is more important than operating from a place of positive intention.