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Get the BUT Out of Your YES

Do you ever get frustrated with petty conflicts at work? You’re not alone.

A whopping 93% of workers report being affected in a negative manner by conflict. 

The other variable is the length of time consumed by on-going, unresolved conflict. 

Even worse is the fact that litigation for workplace harassment and hostile work environments has gone up exponentially in the past decade, and still growing. 

BIG QUESTION: Why do tensions at work get so dialed up? 

BIG ANSWER: The intensity of change is increasing at an alarming rate. AND, time starvation along with generalized anxiety is becoming the norm which makes us all less productive and more defensive. 

While conflict will never go away totally, it can be tamed effectively.

Here is my response to Sandra, a senior vice president who said, well, let her say it in her own words.

“Dear Dr. Lafair,

I’m feeling so bleak these days, and it seems to be getting worse. I drag myself out of bed, having tossed and turned all night. Why, because I have some nasty direct reports who are driving me crazy. It seems that no matter what I say to them or how I say it, it falls on deaf ears. There are four of them and my name for them is so bad I don’t even want to put it here.

Well, for clarity to help you give me an answer, they are The F##king Four. Not original, yet I guess it makes me feel better, well not better, just more stable.

Anyway, am I missing something? Can I communicate better? I love some of the ideas about communicating more effectively in Don’t Bring It to Work. However, I need more insight from you, please.”

Here is my response to Sandra:

“Communication is both simple and complex at the same time. Hey, I hear you thinking, well, that’s not much help.

Let me continue…

We have dumbed down the way we communicate with each other. So, I am going to give you a few ideas to use when you next talk with your “Fabulous Four” and see if they make a difference.

 The Fabulous Four

Think before you speak: You know this, you’re a seasoned professional. However, please take a few minutes before you meet and make sure you know the direction you want to take in talking with the others. Be specific in what outcome you are hoping for.  

Silence is still communicating: Lean into those awkward moments of silence. Often this is where the best communication occurs. If you wait the others will tell you what is really going on underneath the obvious. Ya gotta wait! 

Be visual: Our world is filled with color and sound so when you use words to describe your thoughts and feelings you help others see and feel what you want to really communicate. Talk about feeling blue, or seeing red, or looking for the yellow of sunshine. Find your own style and descriptive words. 

Get the BUT out of your YES: Qualifies are deal-breakers. What I mean is that when you acknowledge what the other person says and then add a “BUT” no one really hears the acknowledgment. They get stuck on the BUT. Change to AND when you want to add something. I promise it will make a difference. 

You are the major ingredient in making conflict move faster or slower. 

Take a deep breath a big deep breath and lead the way.”