Join LinkedIn Learning Instructors for an in-depth discussion in this video Move from Blame to Responsibility in an Argument, part of 2-Minute Tips for Senior Leaders.
- You know how it feels when you're in the middle of an argument, and you and your conflict partner are both pointing fingers and blaming each other. Yeah, not fun. Hi, I'm Lisa Gates, a negotiation consultant and executive coach. And, I want to give you a practice that's simple and yet easy to forget when things are heated. That's why it's called a practice. Commit to collaborative problem solving by making every effort to avoid assigning blame. The language of blame starts with words like you, and he, and they.
And, those words are usually followed by some kind of accusation like, "You always wait until the last minute and make us miss deadlines." So, you need to shift to the language of responsibility, which begins with the word I. For example instead ofsaying, "You always make us miss deadlines" try "I'm concerned we'll miss more deadlines." Here's another one. Instead of saying, "You never listen to me," try saying, "I'm afraid I won't be heard." You see, when things get heated, you have control of only one thing, yourself.
So pause, breathe, slow things down, and speak in a measured tone. It's very likely your partner will match your conversation style unconsciously. And, do your best practice active listening. Let your conflict partner vent, and then confirm your understanding by restating what you've heard. I recommend you practice these little hacks in your every day conversations. If you blow it in a heated conversation, and we all do, just start the sentence over with the word I.
You'll get closer to resolution and it just may change the quality of your relationships.