The Best Way to Defuse an Argument Is to Listen

Here is another valuable Management Tip of the Day from Harvard Business Review. To sign up for a free subscription to any/all HBR newsletters, please click here.

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Few things feel worse than getting yelled at by a coworker. When a colleague criticizes you, your first instinct is likely to be self-defense: You want to point out all the ways they’re wrong and you’re right. But even calmly contradicting the substance of your coworker’s argument may make things worse.

o Instead of rushing to justify your points, start by validating your coworker’s feelings and restating their views.

o For example, you could try, “I hear you. You don’t see your team’s input in what I just presented.”

o Showing that you’re listening and genuinely trying to understand your colleague’s perspective gives them less reason to holler.

Although it might feel counterintuitive, demonstrating support for an angry colleague — without necessarily agreeing with their points — is one of the best ways to de-escalate a conflict.

Adapted from “How to De-Escalate an Argument with a Coworker,” by Liane Davey

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