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Communicate Early to Avoid a Fight

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Communicate Early to Avoid a Fight

As I sat and listened to the yelling coming at me down the phone, something in me snapped.

I’m not proud to say I started yelling back. It was the second of two separate incidents that day, that saw me on the receiving end of what I felt was uncalled for aggression. And I had had enough.

Part of my job as a business owner is to navigate sometimes rocky and conflicted paths. And normally I’m pretty good at it. Normally, faced with hostility, I’d lean towards listening. Let them have it out. And being a big fan of positive communication, eventually, coax them into talking things out.

But stress, my injury and tensions that had been simmering for the better part of a year between us had won.

Now here I was, shaking and screeching back down the phone. No better than the person who’d started the flight in the first place.

The fight!

Even saying that makes me feel like I’ve taken a trip back to high school.

How on earth did it get to this?

Talking egos and empathy.

It was pretty simple really. Already on edge when I saw the caller ID, my ego jumped to my immediate defence to remind me how unfair this all was! Here I was, swamped with work, unable to move from my bed, doing my best! The hyde of this person to yell at ‘me’!

When it was all over, I sat stewing for a good few hours coming up with different scenarios, and mentally beating myself up for all the things I forgot to say, until I forced it to stop.

I forced myself to think about it from a perspective other than my own. To think about what was really being said? Under all that yelling, what were they really trying to say?

If I was honest, as I said above, there had been tension there for a while. But I had kept pushing it away, getting on with what needed to be done. All the while assuming the same thing was happening on the other side too.

So what did I learn here?

I learnt not to assume. As hard as I had been ignoring the growing issue, that same issue in someone else’s mind had been given centre stage and was breeding a growing resentment towards me.

But I could have stopped this issue from descending into a fight well before it had even begun to fester, all I had to do were three little things:

  • Put myself in someone else’s shoes.

I knew there was a problem. But I kept going, assuming that everyone just pushes things aside like I do.

  • Be an active listener.

I didn’t listen. And I mean really listen, especially to the things that weren’t being said.

  • Get in touch to talk early.

I had a chance to stop this before it began, but I didn’t. I didn’t pick up the phone in the beginning, to iron things out. I didn’t check in and make sure everything was ok. I just kept going.

It doesn’t matter who was in the right, and who was in the wrong. Or if anyone really was either way.

Don’t wait for it to become a fight. That fight, the disintegration of a working relationship was completely avoidable with early communication.

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