When you’re not seeing eye-to-eye, change the lens
Reframing — getting creative in how you see and solve problems — is one of our nine habits of a great team. But being able to change the lens is a useful skill for individuals too, especially if you find yourself in a tense moment with a colleague.
When you’re in a heated conversation, reframing can remove some of the emotion and allow you to gain a better understanding of what’s really going on. The trick is to see an angry or defensive comment as simply something to get curious about rather than seeing it as an attack. Instead of responding with more anger or defensiveness, you ask a clarifying question.
Here are some examples:
They say: “I feel like you totally misunderstood me.”
Typical response: “That wasn’t my intent.”
Better response: “OK. Tell me what you saw or heard that made you feel that way.”
They say: “I was just doing what I was told to do.”
Typical response: “Yeah, but you didn’t ask.”
Better response: “Was there a moment when you had a question but decided to ignore it?”
They say: “I feel like you keep changing your mind.”
Typical response: “I only change my mind when there’s a good reason for it.”
Better response: “What about my changing my mind is hard for you?”
When you get creative about how you respond to an angry or defensive comment, you’re able to avoid a stand-off, find common ground, and land on a resolution that works for both of you.