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8 Secrets People Good At Mastering Conflicts Never Told You

8 Secrets People Good At Mastering Conflicts Never Told You

Mastering conflicts is a skill that sets leaders and successful managers apart from their peers. The art of resolving conflict in a professional and productive manner are able to get big projects done, keep customers happy, and get ahead. When you know how to effectively handle conflict, both your personal and professional life benefit. The ability to handle conflict has a massive impact on your success and your emotional intelligence.

1. They Know How To Recognize Conflict

Identifying conflict in the workplace and other settings is the first key to mastering it effectively. Ignoring conflicts is rarely helpful. Different people and organizations manifest conflict in different ways and it takes time to learn about these points. For example, conflict in a process driven company may look like slowed decision making and silences. In contrast, conflict at a rapidly growing startup company may involve shouting matches (and more!). Learning to identify conflict is what makes certain people stand out at conflict resolution.

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2. They Work Through Conflict As An Opportunity

Successful people know that conflict presents both challenge and opportunity. For example, if a sales professional solves a problem posed by a customer then the customer is much more likely to buy again. Keeping the potential for growth in mind is a great way to motivate yourself to work through conflict.

3. They Read Body Language Effectively

Reading body language is a key skill needed to handle conflict effectively. For example, communication expert Vanessa Van Edwards explains that you can predict who will get punched in the face by reading body language. You may not realize that you already assess body language on a regular basis! Pay more attention to it and you’ll see just how much you notice in every situation, including conflict.

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4. They Learn From The Best In Conflict Management

Masters of conflict resolution learn from others who have gone before them. They take the time to read books and use conflict resolution resources. Signing up for a single weekend workshop on conflict management is enough to radically improve your skills. Just like you hone other skills — paying special attention to conflict resolution can up your emotional intelligence drastically.

If you are frustrated with your approach to conflict, seek out insights from books, experts and mentors. Asking for advice and seeking constant improvement is a key reason that successful people stay on top.

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5. They Focus On Their Actions and Choices

When you are faced with conflict, it can be difficult to think clearly. You may feel attacked by your boss, for example. Rather than focusing on blame “and who started it,” there is another approach to consider.

Ask yourself what choice you can make next to move forward. You can ask for a break from to reconsider your thoughts. You can also take a few deep breaths to calm yourself. Giving yourself a pause means you are more likely to come up with solutions (instead of escalating the conflict).

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6. They Think About The Future

What comes to mind when you think about the future? For many people, the future suggests options and possibilities. Asking the other party to focus on the future is a helpful technique, especially if the discussion is going around in circles. Ask the other person what they want in the future. That kind of question will move the discussion closer to a solution.

7. They Show Respect For The Other Person

In our culture, we constantly see images of conflict – battles, hotly contended sports games, elections and more. Competition inspires us to do our best. However, successful masters of conflict never forget to show respect for the other person. Well-known expert William Ury proposes that showing respect for the other person – even during civil wars and high tension situations – is a simple way to move a discussion forward.

8. They Speak Up In Conflicts

Conflict is difficult. Some people respond to that reality by ignoring the situation. Often, avoiding conflict only makes the situation worse. That’s why masters of conflict resolution speak up and bring conflict situations into the open. This habit takes time and experience to develop. For example, it is often a wise idea to postpone addressing a conflict situation if you are in a public place. Instead, ask to meet the person privately and raise your concerns with them in a one-on-one setting.

Featured photo credit: Argument/RyanMcGuire via pixabay.com

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Bruce Harpham

Bruce Harpham is a Project Management Professional and Founder and CEO of Project Management Hacks.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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