Extractive summaries of and key takeaways from the articles curated from TOP TEN BUSINESS MAGAZINES to promote informed business decision-making | Week 292 | April 14-20, 2023
How To Successfully Survive High Conflict Scenarios
By Kwame Christian | Forbes Magazine | April 19, 2023
While conflict is natural, it can also be one of the most uncomfortable parts of life and business. Where two or more people feel strongly about opposing ideas, emotions can run high and communication can break down. So what can we do to avoid this moment?
According to Dr. Kennard, who is an Assistant Professor in the department of communications at Ohio Wesleyan University, one of the primary issues with most conflict is that the parties involved forget to acknowledge humanity in one another. This causes a barrier to true connection, a critical element to successfully navigating difficult conversations and cultivating healthy relationships.
So what leads to some of these barriers? Dr. Kennard believes it’s a failure to acknowledge bias and intercultural communication. We have this propensity to think of others as members of our out-group. If you don’t look like me, if you don’t think like me, and if you don’t believe the things that I believe, then you must be an other.
Dr. Kennard recommends beginning with understanding how the brain works, including all of the ways in which we are programmed to respond based on a need for survival. “Our brains are hardwired to prepare us for survival in a lot of ways,” she continued, “so when we are engaging in these difficult conversations, we have to be able to recognize ‘am I in a moment of survival?’ ” More often than not, the answer will be no, but taking the time to pause and consider this reality can help you proceed with more intentionality and better communication. Kennard also recommends taking time to consider the intercultural differences that exist in the dynamic. She reminded listeners that culture isn’t exclusive to ethnicity and race, and can often refer to the smaller, more nuanced differences in how and where people were raised.
“In not thinking about it in this way, we tend to get caught up in our own assumptions and viewpoints and we don’t look at things from other people’s perspectives,” she shared. “Sometimes it’s just being purposeful in thinking through the ways in which we are similar – what do we have in common and where do we see eye to eye – and then building off of that,” she advised. Taking a break or walking away is always an acceptable option.
Finally, Dr. Kennard believes in making time to talk about how you are communicating. If it’s clear that things have broken down, or if you find yourself feeling frustrated, it’s important to voice that as well. This gives your conversation partner more insight into what you are feeling, and can be a powerful tool for getting discussions back on track.
Learning to successfully manage conflict will take time, especially considering how deeply ingrained our thoughts and responses are. Dr. Kennard took some time to remind listeners that it’s okay if these conversations don’t always go as planned.
3 key takeaways from the article
- While conflict is natural, it can also be one of the most uncomfortable parts of life and business. Where two or more people feel strongly about opposing ideas, emotions can run high and communication can break down.
- So what leads to some of these barriers? First, we fail to acknowledge bias and intercultural communication. Second, parties involved forget to acknowledge the humanity in one another. Third, we put empathy outside the room. Finally, our mind gets us into survival mode.
- We need to consider that taking a break or walking away is always an acceptable option; taking the time to pause and reconsider our choices can help you proceed with more intentionality and better communication; and it’s okay if conversations don’t always go as planned.
Topics: Communication, Conflict, Negotiations