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Most conflict resolution exercises fail because people focus on “winning” it all. But as Larry David, and many famed negotiators, have said, “a good compromise is one where both parties leave dissatisfied.” To successfully navigate difficult conversations at work, we instead need to focus on finding common ground by identifying our shared values and goals.

4 Steps Towards Finding Common Ground with Anyone

  • Do Your Research
  • Practice Cognitive Reframing
  • Identify Your Biases
  • Share an Agenda

As conflict resolution and difficult conversations are often one in the same, the first step towards finding common ground is to show up prepared. Like many things in work and life, the more you know about the issue at hand, the better. How did this conflict come about? Where did it transform from constructive to problematic? Do you understand all the pieces and parts at play?

Dig in and ask questions to understand the nature of the problem, its history, and any possible solutions. Once you have all the information, it will be easier to see the issue at hand from different perspectives (which will come in handy as we move down this list).

  • Do Your Research
  • Practice Cognitive Reframing
  • Identify Your Biases
  • Share an Agenda

Dig in and ask questions to understand the nature of the problem, its history, and any possible solutions. Once you have all the information, it will be easier to see the issue at hand from different perspectives (which will come in handy as we move down this list).

man working on laptop from home
Example of a short description to the photo above.

Practice Cognitive Reframing

You know how you feel, but it’s important to remind yourself your initial conclusion is only one possible explanation. So rather than continuing to focus on all the reasons you “know”you’re right, it’s time to practice cognitive reframing. Cognitive reframing is a psychological technique helping you to shift your mindset so you can look at a person, relationship, or situation from a new perspective.You gathered all the facts in step 1— use those facts to put yourself in your colleague’s shoes.

Identify Your Biases

We’re all guilty of harboring biases towards other people, whether we are cognizant of them or not. In fact, research found hiring managers who have racial bias overestimate the number of offers to counter offers that a black job seeker will make for their salary. They believe these job seekers are arguing more than they are. As good colleagues and humans, though, we must work to uncovering and acknowledging our biases, helping us to see the other’s perspective better, grow as an individual, and become more successful at conflict resolution and overall negotiations.

Related Blog: 3 Ways to Help Your Team Become More Self-Aware

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