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By The Numbers

Workplace Survey, Findings

1.Workers are struggling to work effectively. 

When focus is compromised in pursuit of Collaboration, neither works well.

2. Effective workplaces balance focus and collaboration. 

Workplaces designed to enable collaboration without sacrificing employees’ ability to focus are more successful.

3. Choice drives performance and innovation. 

Employers who provide a spectrum of choices for when and where to work are seen as more innovative and have higher-performing employees.

 

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FIVE TACTICS TO DEAL WITH A DIFFICULT CONVERSATION

 Let’s face it. Conflicts with coworkers can be tough. But you’re not going to solve the underlying issues or maintain a positive relationship if you barrel through the conversation when you’re completely worked up.

 A disagreement can feel like a threat. You’re afraid you’re going to have to give up something — your point of view, the way you’re used to doing something, the notion that you’re right, or maybe even power – and your body therefore ramps up for a fight by triggering the sympathetic nervous system. This is a natural response, but the problem is that our bodies and minds aren’t particularly good at discerning between the threats presented by not getting your way on the project plan and, say, being chased down by a bear. Your heart rate and breathing rate spike, your muscles tighten, the blood in your body moves away from your organs, and you’re likely to feel uncomfortable.

 

Fortunately, it’s possible to interrupt this physical response, manage your emotions, and clear the way for a productive discussion. Here are five tactics to keep your cool during a conversation:

1. Control your Breathe.

“When you start noticing yourself getting tense, try to focus on breathing. Notice the sensation of air coming in and out of your lungs. Feel it pass through your nostrils or down the back of your throat. This will take your attention off the physical signs of panic and keep you centered” says Amy Gallo, a workplace expert. Some mindfulness experts suggest counting your breath — either inhaling and exhaling for a count of 6, for example, or just counting each exhale until you get to 10 and then starting again.

2. Focus on your body

 Sitting still when you’re having a difficult conversation can make the emotions build up rather than dissipate. Experts say that standing up and walking around helps to activate the thinking part of your brain. If you and your counterpart are seated at a table, you may be hesitant to suddenly stand up. Fair enough. Instead, you might say, “I feel like I need to stretch some. Mind if I walk around a bit?” If that still doesn’t feel comfortable, you can do small physical things like crossing two fingers or placing your feet firmly on the ground and noticing what the floor feels like on the bottom of your shoes.

3. Try saying a mantra

Amy Jen Su, an executive coach, recommends coming up with a phrase that you can repeat to yourself to remind you to stay calm. Some of her clients have found “Go to neutral” to be a helpful prompt. You can also try “This isn’t about me,” “This will pass,” or “This is about the business.”

4.  Acknowledge and label your feelings.

Susan David, author of Emotional Agility, says that when you’re feeling emotional, “the attention you give your thoughts and feelings crowds your mind; there’s no room to examine them”. To distance yourself from the feeling, label it. “Call a thought a thought and an emotion an emotion,” says David. “He is so wrong about that and it’s making me mad” becomes “I’m having the thought that my coworker is wrong, and I’m feeling anger”. Labeling like this allows you to see your thoughts and feelings for what they are. When you put that space between these emotions and you, it’s easier to let them go — and not bury them or let them explode.

5. Take a break.

According to Gallo, this is a far-underused approach. “The more time you give yourself to process your emotions, the less intense they are likely to be. So, when things get heated, you may need to excuse yourself for a moment — get a cup of coffee or a glass of water, go to the bathroom, or take a brief stroll around the office” suggests Gallo. Be sure to give a neutral reason for why you want to stand up and pause the conversation — the last thing you want is for your counterpart to think that things are going so badly you’re desperate to escape. Try saying something like, “I’m sorry to interrupt you, but I’d love to get a quick cup of coffee before we continue. Can I get you something while I’m up?”

“Keep in mind that you’re probably not the only one who’s upset. Your counterpart is likely to express anger or frustration too. But don’t act aloof; it’s important to show that you’re listening. If you don’t feed your counterpart’s negative emotion with your own, it’s likely they will wind down”, concludes Gallo.