Set Clear Expectations
Managing expectations – both in terms of what you expect from others and what they expect of you – is one of the most important things a team can do to facilitate better communication. Anything you or your colleagues need from each other should be clearly defined and expressed. Miki Feldman-Simon, founder of IAmBackatWork, made it a point to have set expectations at her company from the start.
“I once worked with a company where people would often interrupt [each other],” she said. “I established a principle where [interruption] was not acceptable. Consistently applying this principle changed the communication habits within my company, making it possible for everyone to voice their opinion.” Knowing what is expected of them can help employees feel more comfortable, thus alleviating conflict-causing tension.
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“If people don’t understand what the organization, their manager, or their teammates expect, confusion and conflict can result,” Mitchell added. “Set expectations early, beginning with the job interview and again during the first days of employment.”
In addition to choosing your words carefully, do not underestimate the power of body language and tone. Often, it is not what is being said that propels conflict further, but how someone is saying it. Use open body language to signify your willingness to resolve the conflict and reach an agreement. People tend to mimic those around them, so this can help elicit a calm, open demeanor from anyone else in the conflict.