Our country has never been more divided. We hear that every day. It may not be possible to keep opinions, passions, and even dissent from infiltrating your organization. However, you can turn the heat down by helping workers find common ground. This happens when people:
- Stay calm when the other person is talking. Focus on what the person is saying, don’t interrupt, and resist the urge to interject your opinion. Ask questions. Show respect—this is critical for civil discourse.
- Restate what you heard to clarify you understand what the person is saying. Say what you learned so they know you were listening.
- Share your viewpoint respectfully and calmly. Be respectful but confident.
- Don’t debate. If the other person attacks your viewpoint and/or tries to force theirs on you, consider a summary statement such as “We will have to agree to disagree on this one.” Then politely end the conversation or move to a more positive subject.
- Close respectfully. Thank the other person for the discussion, and make a closing statement such as, “Thanks for sharing your views with me and giving me an opportunity to express myself.”
Such efforts make heated exchanges, arguments, and grudges must less likely. However, make it clear to everyone that animosity, hostility, and disrespect are never acceptable.