Discussions at work can sometimes get heated. We’ve all been in a situation where something we’re passionate about is being discussed. Be it a project we’ve poured our hearts into, or a proposal that is being negatively received. It’s very difficult to keep a clear head when a discussions turns negative, but is is necessary to stay calm.
Heated discussions at work are similar to arguments that can happen with a significant other. They go through similar stages, and both seek to resolve an issue. The same kinds of strategies recommended by relationship counselors to have a productive conversation can be applied to work-related arguments.
To have a productive conversation, it’s important to frame everything that follows by a clear observation. There is some aspect, idea, or problem that needs resolving. It should be clearly stated, and clearly understood by everyone involved in the discussion.
After observation, a discussion should take place. No interruptions are allowed, and it should be time-boxed. There may be people that don’t speak, and that’s okay. The conversation should be germane to the observation, and focused on talking through the finer points of the observation.
One the observation is concluded, the resolution is the final step. It should completely address the observation, take into account the best part of the discussion, and be actionable. The resolution should be memorable, and be implementable after the conversation is finished.
There are several pain-points that often come up through this process. The observation should be clear and concise, but should not prescribe a solution. The discussion should always center around the observation, but not skip ahead to a solution. It’s easy to get side-tracked during the discussion, so a leader in the group needs to be sure to keep everyone as focused as possible.
By focusing on observation, discussion, and resolution, group discussions at work can have a positive, actionable impact. It is an extremely hard thing to get right, but is an endeavor worth the effort.
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