However senior you are in an organisation there will be times when you find yourself in conversations with others who are critical of you or your staff or want you to make changes you’re unhappy about.

These are some of the approaches I discuss with coachees who are facing these challenges:

  • Take deep breaths and stay calm, courteous and controlled. Even if your heart is racing you can ensure that your body language appears open and relaxed
  • Don’t apologise for something you’re not sure about, or be over-defensive. Calmly offer to find out more about a situation and agree to feed back your findings when you know more
  • Never be tempted to throw individuals to the dogs. If your staff have done something wrong, you need to accept responsibility for what’s happened and for sorting it out
  • Listen to what’s being said, acknowledge other perspectives but stick to a consistent response (often called ‘the broken record technique’) e.g. ‘I hear what you say – but as I said before this may be working for your team but at the moment it isn’t right for mine ‘
  • Showing that you feel anger can be OK when something is seriously inappropriate or unjust – but make sure you have your behaviour fully under control
  • Negotiate wherever possible and agree to disagree, if necessary. Say something like: ‘I acknowledge your point of view but from where I’m standing this isn’t a problem … but we can always keep it under review ’
  • Don’t make enemies by always needing to ‘win’ an argument. Be big enough to admit a mistake or change your mind if you are presented with sufficiently persuasive evidence.

In any situation it takes two to create a conflict. If you refuse to lose your cool, then you are   preventing differing points of view from turning into heated arguments.

Henrietta Bond is an experienced coach and communications specialist. Henrietta works with clients all around the world who want to be truly effective leaders – to motivate and empower individuals, deliver effective messages, manage conflict and challenging situations, and draw out the highest potential of their teams.

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