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5 steps for defusing conflict

  • An angry co-worker confronts you. He’s red in the face and trying to pick a fight. Gain control of the situation by following these steps:
  • Respond with a positive opening statement. Example: “I understand we have a problem. I’m sure we can work it out.”
  • State the problem assertively, unemotionally and respectfully. Example: “Let me repeat what you just told me.”
  • Ask for clarification. Example: “That’s what I heard you say. Have I got it straight?”
  • Brainstorm options. Example: “How can we work this out?”
  • Clarify responsibilities and deadlines. Example: “I’ll call the customer right away, and you’ll talk to …… tomorrow.”
  • Suggestion: Don’t assume the problem’s solved just because you agreed on a solution. Arrange to meet in the near future—no more than 24 hours—to make sure the resolution sticks.
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