This guest post is written by Kali Rogers, a mental health counselor founder of Blush, an online life coaching service for women.
Conflict at work is unavoidable. It’s perfectly normal for miscommunications and disagreements to occur in a workplace. In fact, almost all conflict is healthy unless it becomes disrespectful.
The content of the conflict isn’t what is necessarily important; it’s the process. Meaning, it doesn’t necessarily matter what the argument at hand is about as long as it’s handled in a professional and respectful matter.
My #1 tip for better communication at work: Manage expectations as often as possible. If you are communicating information and expect a certain response in return, spell it out for others. If coworkers hang onto expectations internally without sharing them with others, they are essentially assuming that their coworkers are mind readers and will be able to glean the correct response through telecommunication. This is a fantasy! Be as thorough and as clear as possible about any expectations you have. This will pave the way for much clearer communication and effective results.
Another big mistake people make at work is assuming everyone else has the same thought process as them. People have different personalities, different communication styles, and different ways of thinking, but for some reason a vast majority of us assume everyone thinks in an identical process—and that’s why most communication misfires happen. People expect a certain timeline, tone, phrasing, medium—and then they receive something completely different that they weren’t anticipating. These missed expectations can easily cause frustration among coworkers.
If a misunderstanding has already occurred, follow these four tips to bring it up in a more positive way.
1. Avoid blaming language, such as “I feel like you ________.”
2. Take responsibility for any mistakes you believe you made during the process. This will decrease others’ defensiveness.
3. Set a friendly tone beforehand. Assume that this incident will be resolved, and have that attitude approaching the conversation.
4. Don’t bring it up in front of others to avoid any embarrassment.