byPeggy Klauson Jul 09, 2016

Dealing with Conflict at Work? Consider it an Opportunity to Raise Your Executive Presence

Conflict at work

Photo credit:Creative Commons

Whether you are disagreeing with a colleague over the direction of a creative project, or how to approach a new client pitch, conflict at work is never easy. As much as many of us would like to run for the hills when faced with confrontation, it’s part and parcel of our daily business world. Indeed, how you handle difficult situations could even determine your suitability for more senior positions―especially with management responsibilities.

So, the next time you find yourself unsure of how to handle conflict, here are the top eight behaviors of people that possess executive presence―the magical aura that turns heads, commands respect and trust, and inspires others―when confronted with difficult conversations.

  1. They keep their emotions in check.
  2. They are relentlessly hopeful and honest about resolving the situation.
  3. They are comfortable with silence and the discomfort that can come with difficult conversations. They don’t feel like they have to fill air space.
  4. They communicate with warmth and strength (especially important for women who have a narrower band of acceptable communication).
  5. They know what they want to say and rehearse and paraphrase their thoughts, so that it comes out conversationally and naturally.
  6. They ignore rules such as for every one piece of negative feedback you give four pieces of good feedback which only serve to diffuse the message.
  7. Their intention is not to shame, guilt or embarrass but to address the problem and fix it.
  8. They’re decisive and deal with it. They know if they procrastinate and don’t deal with it, they will likely end up carrying it.

Behaving with these things in mind will help you command the respect of colleagues regardless of your job title or seniority. For example, even a relatively junior employee can be more helpful if she is rational and tries to communicate warmly and hopefully when trying to resolve a tricky situation.

If you are relatively new to some of these behaviors and attitudes, don’t beat yourself up about not being “perfect.” Leaders are not made overnight, and practicing leadership behaviors and attitudes is an important part of getting there.

Peggy Klaus advises senior managers on leadership, communication, dealing with conflict, and raising executive presence.


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