Four Steps to Manage Workplace Arguments

 -  6/21/11

From the boardroom to the break room, arguments will inevitably surface, and the key to enabling employees to handle these situations well is emotional intelligence.


Arguments, disagreements and differences of opinion are unavoidable facts of working life. Our inability to see eye-to-eye is so central to the human condition that some clashes stem from our physiology more than our free will.

A recent study published in Current Biology that was conducted by the University College London Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience found significant anatomical differences in the brains of liberals and conservatives that contributed to their opposing political beliefs. It appears the human race is built for conflict. So, what’s a talent manager to do?

When your opinions don’t mesh well with those of the person sitting across from you, the mark you leave on the situation comes from how well you understand and manage your emotions — not from what you say to prove your point. When emotions are allowed to run haywire during a disagreement, things discombobulate very quickly and the discussion goes nowhere.

From the boardroom to the break room, arguments will inevitably surface, and the key to enabling employees to handle these situations well is emotional intelligence, or EQ. Employees who are trained to argue with emotional intelligence will accomplish two things:

1) The argument itself will be far more rational and productive. Removing their strong emotions from the equation by following the steps outlined below will keep them from fanning the flames of discord. Regardless of how agitated the other party is, when someone remains calm, people are forced to lean further in this direction than they would have otherwise.

2) The argument will do less damage to the working relationship. Disagreements are fine, as long as they are conducted with consideration and respect. When someone explodes with emotion and says things that are better left unsaid, it has a lasting, negative impact on the relationship. However, if the person approached a disagreement with emotional intelligence, it has the opposite effect: It strengthens the relationship by showing the other person respect even when there’s disagreement with his or her opinion.

Talent managers can lead by example: When they find themselves in the middle of a disagreement, they can take the emotional high road for the greater good of the relationship. It’s critical to avoid being defensive, remain open and practice the following strategies.

Article Keywords:   emotional intelligence   arguments  


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