Creating a Positive Work Environment: Session Five – Dangerous Misconceptions
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Brainstorm additional methods of preventing problems that you have found successful.
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Look at non-verbal communication.
Refusing eye contact, red face, clenched hands, and arms crossed can all indicate negative feelings.
Reading between the lines.
This is more difficult. We have to listen to what the person isn’t saying as well as what they are saying. Do they sound angry, defensive, or put upon? Are they refusing to give an opinion or take action to correct things? Do you sense a reluctance to do something or confusion over what the person is to do?
Probing is a helpful form of open questioning that can lead you to a deeper level of understanding within your conversations. One of the most common ways of probing is to ask an open question, such as:
- “Can you describe that with more details for me?”
- “Would you give me a specific example of what you mean?”
- “What do you think we should do?”
The difficulty here is that if you ask too many probing questions, the other person begins to feel like they are being interrogated. Be careful with what you ask and how you ask it.
A second, very effective way of probing is to simply pause. Stop talking. People often do not like silences and will invariably speak up to fill the silence.
A third way is to ask a reflective question. For example, the person has just said, “What I really want is more variety in my work,” and you may respond by just reflecting back to them, “Variety?” The reflective question usually provides you with an expanded answer without you appearing to ask more questions. Of course, it is best used in conjunction with a pause.
A fourth method that is particularly useful to make certain you are clear about what the individual has said is paraphrasing what has just been said, in your own words. Example: “So if I understand you correctly, you…”
The last method, most often used as a conversation is winding down, is the summary question. Example: “You have tried ignoring the scent of your colleague’s cologne, you have talked with him about how it affects your allergies, and you have tried shutting your door to keep the scent from your workspace. None of these has worked and now you are asking me to intervene. Have I got it right?”
All of these methods can help make the other person feel better understood and prevent conflict from occurring.