Do You Use Your Pause Button?
Published: Tuesday, 03 September 2013 14:17
During work the other day I received an email from a colleague that really pushed my buttons. The email addressed an issue we both had disagreed about, but, I thought, had settled on an answer. The email was a passive-aggressive effort to say, “I am going to do what you ask, but I still disagree and I am just waiting to be able to say, ‘I told you, so.’” I immediately grabbed for my keyboard and typed out a less than polite email.
The email reviewed all the points of the prior discussion and in a similar passive aggressive manner, I made my point that at this time I didn’t care what he thought, we needed to move forward. My hand moved the mouse and the cursor move to the send button…and then I paused.
Today’s technology makes it so easy to respond quickly and often without thought. Hit a reply or send button and instant communication—and gratification. Is it quick always best? Of course, there are times when a quick answer is important and necessary, but there are more times when we need to take the time to think of our answers, our rationale and our tone. Every opportunity for communication is an opportunity to build relationships.
So, you hit the pause button. What next? What are some of the questions we should ask ourselves?
The first question I suggest is, “What is the end result you want to achieve? And will this response help you achieve it?” Often we lose sight of what the discussion is about, and it becomes a win-lose situation—a test of egos. We need to bring into focus our goals and keep our eye on the prize, not the conflict.
Second, “What is the reason the person is responding in such a manner? What are they getting or what do they want to get?”
Third, “Where is the common ground?” Starting from a point of agreement, increases the potential for a successful conclusion.
Fourth, “How can I address their concerns/feelings without compromising goals?
The next step is the 24 hour rule. It is rule I use whenever I am angry or upset. It is the amount of time needed to calm down, ask the above questions, and craft a response that I think will help me achieve the goal. Some suggested guidelines:
Examine the reason the person is upset, walk in their shoes, and explore how you can address their concerns—without compromising the achievement of the goals.
Use neutral and non-judgmental language—don’t make it personal and don’t take it personal.
Use this “conflict” as an opportunity to either create a new relationship or strengthen an existing one. People expect a fight. They don’t expect communication.
I used my 24 hours and the next day responded with a completely different version of my first thoughts. I didn’t back away from what had to be done, but the way I relayed my message had a different tone and a different objective. The first time I wrote to rebuke. The second response was to engage and recruit. The end result? A stronger bond. It was stronger because we experienced conflict and worked our way through it. Stronger, because rather than use power to resolve the issue we used communication.
Do you use your pause button?