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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Soft skills include dealing with relationships and conflict

INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS & CONFLICT RESOLUTION – Interpersonal relationships are, in effect, how you get along with your co-workers. For some people you spend more of your waking hours with your co-workers than you do with your family. Therefore, it becomes extremely important that your interpersonal communication with your co-workers is at its best. Several things that you can do to improve your relationships include:

1. Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain about people – instead ask questions about what and how the person is doing something. Provide a helpful alternative that is a benefit to their performance.

2. Appreciate people – genuinely provide appreciation for the good things that employees or co-workers do. This adage applies to both of these first two points “If you can’t say something nice, don’t saying anything at all.”

3. Solve your own problems by solving other people’s problems – especially in a sales situation; if you ask questions of the person you are interacting with to find out how you may solve their problem, you may in fact end up solving your own. In another way, if a co-worker is not completed with a task that is holding you up from completing your own, you may ask them questions to figure out how what you want might benefit him or her.

4. Be genuinely interested in others – most people’s favorite subject is themselves. Use this to your advantage.

5. Smile – it helps you and everyone around you feel better.

6. Be a good listener – listen more than you speak. It helps you gain insight and build relationships.

7. Make others feel important – Be sincere when you tell others, including your family and friends, that they are important to you.

8. Understand that you really aren’t always right – arguing results in neither person listening to what the other is saying. Remain calm, listen to the other person’s perspective, be tactful, and consider feelings including how you would feel if you were in the other person’s position.

9. Accept responsibility – if you are wrong, made a mistake or misspoke, help rebuild trust and admit to your error.

10. Anger breeds defensiveness – approach a person calmly and ask to discuss a problem amicably. This approach can deter someone from immediately going on the defensive and putting up a wall to communication.

11. Suggest, don’t tell – short of implementing procedures, people react more favorably when given an option to consider than being told how to think or do something.

Now that you have established a great interpersonal relationship, what happens if you do encounter a conflict? This will depend upon the actual relationship between the people in the relationship. Is it a superior/subordinate, co-worker, customer/vendor, union/management sort of relationship? Whatever the case there are a few basic things to consider:

Deal with the issue – things will fester and become worse if an issue is prolonged. By learning how someone gives feedback or deals with feedback, you can sometimes avoid the conflict in the first place.

Listen – feelings aren’t always apparent when someone is in the middle of a conflict. By listening effectively, you may become aware of anger or resentment in the other person. Learning to bridge the gap between the two sides of an issue is accomplished with active listening skills and trying to understand the other person’s perspective. If you do need to express your feelings use the “I feel” statements in a clear non- confrontational manner to avoid inflaming a situation.

Solutions – is there a happy medium that can satisfy both sides of the conflict. Does one person “win” this time and concede an issue the next, or is it a situation where you just must agree to disagree?

Limits – have the limits of the relationship been reached or breached? In some situations, there may come a time when the boundaries established have been exceeded and the conflict causes a relationship to “go their separate ways”. Being able to recognize if a relationship, whether work or personal, is able to overcome a conflict is the key.

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