Welcome to the Working
Newsletter. Our goal is to highlight how we
can communicate more effectively to have stronger
work relationships and manage conflict
constructively in the workplace.
I hope you'll find our suggestions useful and contact
us when we can help.
|If You Don't Talk About It, You'll Act It Out
If you've identified something as a problem,
stew over it, and then decide to keep it to yourself --
good luck! According to the
authors of Crucial Confrontations, if we don't
talk it out, we act it out! Unwittingly, our facial
expressions give us away. And then there are those
other non-verbal behaviors that speak volumes -
sarcasm, cutting humor, or "looks that could kill." Our
mind may have opted to go silent, but our body sends
out hostile messages. The better option is to speak
Often, we choose to not have a difficult
conversation because we don't know how and fear
talking could actually make matters worse.
The reality is these difficult conversations are the
ones that matter most in our relationships and
avoiding them only backfires as the problem gets
worse rather than better.
The good news is there are lots of great books on
the topic as a resource. Check out Crucial
or Crucial Confrontations (both written by
Grenny, McMillan and Switzler), Difficult
(by Stone, Patton, and Heen), and Fierce
Conversations (by Susan Scott).
Working Dynamics offers training and coaching
client organizations on effective feedback skills as
part of teambuilding initiatives. A favorite quote
borrowed from the experts is "you can act
upon your emotions or be acted upon by them."
|Feedback 4:1 Rule
"If you have a moment, I'd like to give you some
feedback." You know direct
communication is good. But your stomach just did a
Why is it that "feedback" conjures up fear
and dread? Probably because we
we can't take a negative behavior any longer, we are
at our wits end, our fuse is nearly blown. Of course,
fear and dread are the predominant emotions for the
feedback recipient, as well as the feedback giver, if
the word "feedback" only means bad news!
The answer - put more positive feedback into
your culture at work! Experts say that the
ratio of positive feedback to negative feedback should
be 4:1. Feedback is all about requesting someone
stop, start, or continue a behavior. That means we
should be giving feedback on behaviors we'd like to
see our colleagues CONTINUE four times more
often than we request they STOP what they are
doing or START doing something in its place.
Look around and make a mental note of
co-worker, your boss, or someone who reports to you
is doing that works for your working relationship,
benefits your team, or you consider an asset.
Then, tell the person specifically what the action
means to you. We tend to take for granted the
many things colleagues contribute to our working
relationship and to getting the job done. It isn't
intentional. In continually striving for "bigger and
better," we skim over what is working in search of
Commit to a 4:1 ratio of positive-to-negative
feedback in your organization. You'll have definite
gains in communication and you just might smile the
next time you
hear "I'd like to give you some feedback."
|Paraphrase When You Don't Understand
Paraphrasing is such a useful tool when we see
something differently from how the other person sees
it and neither of us appears to budging. By
rewording, summarizing, and restating what we
thought we heard, we let the other person know we
are trying to understand his/her problem. This
communication tool also clarifies communication,
slows the pace of interaction, reduces emotional
intensity, helps elicit more information, and
your analysis of the situation. Paraphrasing may also
help focus the other person on the problem and
The purpose of a lead-in when paraphrasing is to
assure the other person that you are simply checking
your understanding of the problem. This also
affirms his or her feelings, which softens the tension
that could be lurking under the surface. Best of all, you
avoid falling into the trap of telling the other person
how he or she is feeling (rarely does anyone
appreciate that). Another side benefit of paraphrasing
is you may help the other person organize his or her
thoughts and identify the real problem.
If you can't immediately pull up lead-in
paraphrasing lines, here are 10 starters that will
- "It sounds like ..."
- "Is it fair to say ..."
- "Let me see if I heard you correctly ..."
- "I'd like to repeat back what I've understood you to
- "How about I summarize what I've heard you
- "It seems like ..."
- "As I hear it ..."
- "Let me make sure I've understood your
- "Am I correct the way you see it is ..."
- "What I hear you saying is ..."
Acknowledgements to The Complete Guide to
Coaching at Work, 2001, by Perry Zeus &
|CDP Certification Sessions in Richmond and Northern Virginia
Susan Gunn, CDP Master Trainer, will offer two
Conflict Dynamics Profile Certification Sessions --
August (Richmond) and October (Northern Virginia).
Internal and external consultants use the CDP in their
work with various applications including: Conflict
Resolution, Leadership Development, Career
Development/Individual Coaching, Team Building,
Organizational Development, and Change
The Conflict Dynamics Profile, an assessment
instrument dealing with conflict behaviors in the
workplace, provides a powerful way to improve self-
awareness of what triggers conflict in individuals as
well as how they respond to conflict. Based on
these triggers and responses, the Conflict Dynamics
Profile then provides practical approaches for
improving behaviors that promote more effective
workplace conflict resolution.
Contact Susan Gunn
for session details for each location.
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About the Publisher
Susan Gunn is president of
Working Dynamics, a Richmond, VA, consulting
Working Dynamics provides a full range of
assessment, development programs, and conflict
management services for organizations in business,
government, and nonprofit sectors to reach their
goals using conflict in its most productive forms.
Learn more at workdyn.com.
"If you're not listening, you're not learning."
-- Lyndon Baines Johnson
"If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone
-- Booker T. Washington
"The greatest remedy for anger is delay."