In part one of this series, we learned that workplace conflict starts with you. Some conflict is our own fault due to our own conflicting thoughts and desires. Yet, giving people the benefit of the doubt can help greatly reduce stress in the workplace.
In this installment, continue to focus on you. I know you think it is someone else who is causing the toxic work environment. But you must start with you. What are you verbally saying, intentionally or unintentionally, that might be stirring the workplace conflict waters?
I reference the Bible many times when it comes to guidance, both personally and professionally. Here is a great passage from the book of James to think about:
“We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check … the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.”
Such a small part of our body can cause so much damage. As the damage fire causes cannot be reversed, so it is with our words. What you say has the potential to cause irreversible damage and propel conflict.
Great communication is not only saying the right words at the right time, but it is also controlling your desire to say what you shouldn’t. Examples of an untamed tongue include gossiping, putting others down, bragging, manipulation, exaggerating, complaining and lying.
Before you speak always ask yourself three questions:
- Is what I want to say true?
- Is what I want to say necessary?
- Is what I want to say kind?
I recall a brainstorming session I was asked to attend at work. At one point in the meeting, a co-worker told another that her idea was “stupid.” To be honest, many were probably thinking the same thing, but it should not be said out loud. This comment did not pass all three tests. “Stupid” might have been true but it was not kind.
A coworker was constantly complaining about the new clock-in system her company implemented. Those non-stop comments did not pass the test. While the clock-in system may have had real true problems, her constant complaining was not necessary.
The litmus test of “is it true, necessary, and kind?” can help curb our verbal communication to be more positive and helpful. This is true not only in our work lives but our personal lives as well.
Our words will affect the people around us, especially at our jobs. We can be a powerful force to curb a toxic workplace. Further, we can be champions of establishing positive, encouraging, uplifting environments!