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Fight club

Active listening reduce workplace conflict

Gazette staff January 25th, 2011

Managing interpersonal conflict in organizations is among the most critical and important skills that employees on all levels of the organization can possess, according to Jack Singer. The business coach and psychologist says unresolved conflict negatively impacts productivity, ultimately harming a company’s bottom line.

To combat this, Singer recommends learning “confrontation reduction skills.” Key among these is active listening.

“The key to all interpersonal communications is genuine listening, as opposed to defensive listening, where you plan your retort while the other person is talking to you,” Singer said. “In order to begin to really listen, paraphrase what the other person says in your own words, without judging, agreeing or disagreeing. Next, ask for feedback to determine whether you interpreted correctly. If you have not, ask for clarification. Continue this process until you are sure that you have heard what the other person is saying and how he or she really feels emotionally.”

Only then should one respond, he said. “This process continues until you have both clarified your positions and are certain that the other person really heard you and understands.” —Gazette staff

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