But there's another side to the dynamic: Some people on your team or in your family will have a tough time expressing--or even acknowledging--anything related to "negative" feelings. These folks want to keep the peace at any cost and are skilled at pretending that everything is fine. The ironic result: underlying resentments that grow and eventually destroy relationships on and off the job.
Five Ways To Be Helpful and Effective
What do you do when you find yourself in a relationship with someone who totally avoids disagreement?Here are some thoughts that will help you encourage those who are uncomfortable to work with you toward healthy problem solving. The goal: Get some honest conversation rolling before small irritations morph into significant issues that harm productive relationships.
1. Create opportunities for give and take.
By definition, people who avoid conflict really won't take the initiative to come to you about things that are bothering them. What to do? Create regular, scheduled times for discussion in which you invite the airing of issues, pro and con.
Let's face it: folks who shun disagreement are often “nice” people and want to be seen that way. Take a moment to show them that critical feedback is a way of helping you and that it's something you value highly.
Something along these lines could get it going: “One thing that helps me is to have someone who sees my ideas from a different point of view. That way, I can refine the way I think about things and be more effective. Would you be willing to help me with that?"3. Watch non verbals.
We have the human tendency, through unconscious body language, to show that something is bothering us even though we remain silent. So, those who avoid conflict verbally will still give off a signal--even if it is total silence--that something is going on "inside". This may also come in the form of a change in normal behavior or habits.
Let's say that a colleague has been completely engaged in a discussion, then becomes strangely quiet.
You can use this objective observation to non-threateningly dig a little deeper. “Meaghan, I’ve noticed that you became very quiet in the meeting yesterday and haven’t talked much with me since then. Is that would be helpful to talk about?”4. Make conflict normal.
When starting off meetings and discussions, consistently set the norm with: “We all have ideas and ways in which we disagree at times. That keeps things interesting. What really matters is how we respond to these differences to discover what's really there and what there is to learn."5. When someone tasks a risk, respond with support.
Understand that people who don't like conflict are taking a risk when they do speak out. Acknowledge the comment or suggestion and thank them.
What else do you do to help people engage rather than "drop out" when there are conflicting views?