Here’s a question from one of the top commenters here on the site, Lily Kreitinger.
Chris, I just went through my annual performance review. I had good feedback from my leaders on the positive aspects on my performance.
They also provided feedback on the areas in which I can grow. One of the observations they made is that I tend to talk over people at a meeting, especially when conflict is involved.
It seems like I want to get past it and resolve it quickly, rather than let the other person explain their situation. What can I do to be a better listener so I can let my team and clients know I truly care about them?
Hey Lil, I can definitely say that you’re not the only person who struggles with this. There are a few key things I think you should focus on.
- Understand that well over half of our population hates conflict. And when it arrises, they have a tendency to overcompensate with their actions in an attempt to shut down the conflict. That doesn’t solve anything. Instead, recognize that the situation is uncomfortable, and instruct yourself to allow it to happen…at least for a bit.
- Realize that chances are the other person is uncomfortable as well. Especially if they’ve experienced you shutting them down in the past. If they are concerned, then they will have a tendency to do whatever it takes to get their opinion heard.
- I don’t remember who said it, but you have two ears and one mouth. Use the ratios accordingly. The actual resolution isn’t as important as the communication. Do everything you can to hear all of what the other person needs to say.
- Construct your response carefully. All the listening in the world won’t mean a thing if you come off defensive or attacking. Let them know that heard what they said even if it means you have to repeat parts of it.
- Focus on the absolute best outcome. It’s not about winning by shutting the conflict down. Instead, be genuinely concerned about the outcome of the situation. When we hate conflict, we’ll do whatever it takes to get it over. Even if that means making a decision that isn’t the best one.
As you take these things into consideration, you begin to focus more on their being people involved, instead of just issues. Then you begin to understand that it’s more important to set up a communication process that solves problems, instead eliminates conflict.
Question: How would you advise Lily?