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Helping Employees Find Common Ground Can Make All the Difference

Build better connections and communication through active listening

From time to time employees might find themselves in conversation with colleagues they respect, but with whom they might not always agree. When disagreeing with someone, it’s easy, and sometimes tempting, to shut down, and dismiss the other person’s point of view outright. But in the spirit of togetherness, employees can activate their powers of understanding and empathy to foster deeper and more productive relationships with their co-workers.

Recognizing how others are like us—and wishing them happiness—is a good way to build better connections and communication. One way to accomplish this is through active listening.

Some Thoughts to Share

You can be an active and interested listener by emoting appropriately in response to what your speaker is saying, and pausing and paraphrasing your speaker’s story every so often. Being an active and open listener will allow you to meet each interaction with presence of mind, and help you react accordingly.

If things happen to take a turn, and you find an argument brewing, you can remind yourself of what you and your conversation partner have in common, rather than where you differ. A great phrase to remember is, “just like me.”

For instance, if you find yourself in an uncomfortable argument with someone, you can tell yourself:

  • This person in front of me has valid feelings, emotions and thoughts, just like me.
  • This person in front of me has had ups, downs, victories and setbacks in life, just like me.
  • This person in front of me wishes to be happy, loved, heard and accepted, just like me. 

By recognizing similarities, rather than differences, we can better address and defuse conflict through greater empathy. It can be surprising how much easier conversations are when approached from a place of understanding and common ground.

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