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After a long and heated campaign, the US presidential election came to a close late Tuesday night, reelecting President Barack Obama for a second term. While Republican candidate Mitt Romney and President Obama disagreed fiercely during a sometimes aggressive and bitter fight for the presidency, both recognized in their speeches Tuesday night that the leaders of the two parties must find a way to set aside their differences to work together for a better future.

“And in the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together,” said President Obama in his victory speech in Chicago.

“The nation, as you know, is at a critical point. At a time like this, we can’t risk partisan bickering and political posturing. Our leaders have to reach across the aisle to do the people’s work,” said Mitt Romney in his concession speech in Boston.

The workplace can also become a battleground of differing opinions, conflicting problem-solving strategies and contrasting communication styles. When emotions run high, it’s easy to lose sight of what you are trying to accomplish and get sidetracked by arguments and other distractions. Since you will inevitably have to work with many different kinds of people in your professional life, it is important to know how to handle conflict at work in a productive way.

Tips for Reaching Across the Aisle

1. Listen.

It is impossible to make any kind of progress if you refuse to listen to others. When you are working with a team, create a space where each person has a chance to express his or her ideas. Recognize that the more extroverted or outspoken members of the team may dominate the conversation, so allow time for the quieter team members to collect their thoughts and add to the discussion. If you encounter problems with employees interrupting one another and not actively listening, set ground rules to let one person have the floor for a few minutes at a time.

2. Ask questions.

Resist the temptation to shoot holes in other people’s ideas, particularly if they are very different from your own. Instead, ask specific questions about different points in their problem-solving strategies and sincerely try to understand what they are trying to accomplish. Try to reserve judgment until you have heard the whole story.

3. Find common ground.

One of the best approaches for handling conflict at work is to seek out the objectives that you share as a team. Focus on questions that bring you together as a team instead of dividing you. For example: What is your ultimate goal? How are you each trying to reach this goal?
How can you combine your strategies to reach a compromise?

What are your tips for handling conflict at work? How do you manage your team to work together more effectively?

Improve Workplace Listening Skills 

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