Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9 pm ET. This is excerpted from my recent interview with Dr. Susan Harrison, who is an award-winning thought leader, change agent, speaker, trainer, and author. She speaks and writes about stress management, leadership, personality styles and assertiveness. For more info: www.DrSusanHarrison.com.
SmallBizlady: WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO AVOID CONFRONTATION IN THE WORKPLACE?
Dr. Susan Harrison: The easy answers are: don’t work, live on an island, and if that is not an option, the best way is to prevent the need for it. Put time into developing good relationships. Also, it is harder to be annoyed with someone you like.
SMALLBIZLADY: ANY TIPS ON BUILDING GOOD WORKING RELATIONSHIPS?
Dr. Susan Harrison: Yes, here are some tips:
- Become a really great listener.
- Ask people about themselves and then remember what they said.
- Example, I have animals and when people ask about them, I love it.
- Be a team player and help others. Also, ask for help on occasion.
- Helping someone bonds you to that person so when you ask for help when you need it, you are forming stronger relationships
SMALLBIZLADY: WHAT IF YOU CAN’T FORM A GOOD RELATIONSHIP WITH SOMEONE?
Dr. Susan Harrison: Then, you accept reality. Despite another’s bad attitude, keep positive and cordial. Sounds harsh I know, but true.
SMALLBIZLADY: SUSAN, DO YOU HAVE ANOTHER TIP ON PREVENTING CONFRONTATION?
Dr. Susan Harrison: If we deal with people according to who they are we will have less confrontation. People have different personalities and quirks. Oftentimes, we don’t get along with others because we communicate the way we like to communicate instead of the way others respond best.
For instance, some people like to have small talk before business discussions and others want you to get to the point quickly. Or, some people don’t want much communication before they have had their coffee.
If we pay attention to others, we will get along better and have less confrontation.
SMALLBIZLADY: WE KNOW ISSUES CAN’T BE PREVENTED FOREVER SO WHAT DO YOU RECOMMEND TO MANAGE CONFLICT?
Dr. Susan Harrison First, decide if this issue is something that could be a pattern. Oftentimes we need to overlook annoying petty things. You can’t decide what’s petty to someone. It is a judgment call. But, you don’t want to be that person who is always finding something to complain about at work.
Secondly, make a plan on where, when, and how to approach the other person. The more prepared you are, the better your chance of a positive outcome.
SMALLBIZLADY: ANY TIPS ON HOW TO APPROACH THE OTHER PERSON?
Dr. Susan Harrison: Yes. Approach with facts, confidence, humility and emotional control. The timing of it is important as well. Approach the person in a time when he/she is not very busy. I recommend just stopping by instead of making an appointment unless necessary. This keeps the other person’s stress level from rising. A stressful person is not as easy.
SMALLBIZLADY: WHAT TIPS DO YOU HAVE IF YOU ARE APPROACHED BY SOMEONE THAT HAS AN ISSUE WITH YOU?
Dr. Susan Harrison: Listen without reacting. If you are beginning to have stress and aren’t ready to respond, calmly say something like, “Let me think about this and get back to you this afternoon and we can discuss it then.” That will give you time to lower your stress and prepare.
Decide what your part was and own up to it. Even if it is just the perception of the other person. And, no fake apologies like “I’m sorry if you felt like…”
SMALLBIZLADY: DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS ON MAINTAINING EMOTIONAL CONTROL WHEN DEALING WITH CONFLICT?
Dr. Susan Harrison: Here is one you may not have heard of: think about your toes and wiggle them, then move up to your calves and move them, then focus on your fingers and your hands. Odds are that before you get to your hands, you are calmer.
SMALLBIZLADY: SO, DR. HARRISON, WHAT IF I AM A CRIER? ANY TIPS ON CONTROLLING THE TEARS?
Dr. Susan Harrison: If you are a crier, here are tips before you lose it: raise your eyebrows, blink a lot, drink cold water, chew gum; if nothing works then excuse yourself and cry until you get control.
It’s best if we don’t cry at work, but I know some people who seem to have it in their DNA.
SMALLBIZLADY: WHAT IF YOU FIND YOURSELF IN CONFLICT OFTEN?
Dr. Susan Harrison: You may not like this, but look for the common denominator. If you are in conflict often, it is you.
What can you do differently? How do people see you, whether or not it is true? If you aren’t sure, ask a good friend.
If you found this interview helpful, join us on Wednesdays 8-9 pm ET; follow @SmallBizChat on Twitter.
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