When dealing with a conflict situation, first focus on your areas of agreement. For example,
assume someone in another department is upset with the speed at which your department
responds to his requests for information. He may convey. “You guys never seem to get back
to us with the information we request.” Assuming that there is some truth to the criticism,
you might respond, “It’s true that the revenue and cost projections you requested several
weeks ago aren’t ready.” Then, let the critic respond. In other words, focus on restating a
fact, rather than evaluating, justifying or explaining.
This approach helps diffuse the conflict. Additionally, it communicates that
you’re listening and it gives you time to think so you’re better able to respond to the
criticism rather than act defensively.