People Skills: Speak Sooner to Prevent Needless Conflict

Speak Sooner to Clear the Fog & Improve Results

Want to deal with a subtle boss who is a master at innuendo? Want to keep your kool in professional settings with not-so-helpful colleagues? Want to avoid the trap set by passive aggressive co-workers?  Want to get employees to communicate with you before there is major trouble?

In your personal and professional life, do you want to handle the uncertainty of new relationships more effectively?

Speak sooner to prevent needless conflict.

People-Skills: Speak Sooner to Clear the Fog & Prevent Needless Conflict Image by: Daniel Peckham

Image by: Daniel Peckham via Creative Commons License

Some people stay silent in the hopes of preventing conflict. Yet conflict brews in quiet fog. It gains hidden strength in the haze of unstated expectations, assumptions, and deductions. It gives power to bullies.

The sooner we clear the fog, the sooner we will prevent needless extended conflict. When we speak sooner, people become more aware of the impact of their words, their tone, their body language, and their actions. This changes the present and the future.

Admittedly, the phrase speak sooner does not mean that we immediately blurt out whatever we are feeling. Thinking and reflection are valuable.  They allow reason to temper emotion so we can clear the fog without creating conflict and raining on everyone’s morale. However, don’t get stuck in the thinking. Speak sooner!

After initial reflection, thinking “what did that mean” and churning over possibilities, delays success and leaves all in a stupor. Speak sooner to find out it what it actually meant instead of projecting the worst.  Ask great questions, listen to the information, and celebrate the clearer horizon.

Speak Sooner in Universally Tough Moments

  • Your boss gives hints of disapproval instead of giving you clear feedback. Speak up to understand more clearly. Ask great questions to clear the fog without offending. Your success and the business success depends on clear communication.

  • Meetings often give voice to those who want to take credit for other’s ideas. When a co-worker restates what you said in a way that makes it sound like it’s their idea, speak up with a genuine “you agree with me!” and watch the dynamics change.  If your boss or another leader is doing this, meet with them privately to discuss the issue. Planning this out and doing it privately prevents career suicide.

  • Meetings also give rise to power struggles. In a meeting with one of my clients, another consultant made a presentation. My client asked me to be there to offer perspective on the customer service aspects of the project. When I started to speak, the other consultant stood up and said “Now calm down. Relax.”  He was projecting his insecurity and patronized me to gain a sense of control.  I asked him “Are you uncomfortable with my energy? You seem to be interpreting it in a negative way.”  Then I waited for an answer. This reset the meeting as an open dialogue rather than a power struggle.

  • You don’t like the way someone is treating you yet the workplace culture doesn’t allow you to lash out. Speak sooner and speak calmly. Without anger, state how you want to be treated. To do this more easily, I recommend the book The Power of a Positive No: Save the Deal & Relationship and Still Say No by William Ury.

  • You think someone’s intentions are hurtful yet it’s not 100% clear. Ask them what their intentions are. Even if they aren’t truthful in responding, they will know you will always bring issues to the table for positive results. If you find that you usually think people’s intentions are bad, let a great coach help you clarify your own issues. Although healthy skepticism helps you stay alert, endless pessimism can suffocate your success.

When we speak sooner, we turn uncertainty into certainty. We turn hold mode into go mode. We clear the fog and see a promising horizon.

Find your voice. Speak sooner. Clear the fog and tap your limitless success.

How has speaking sooner helped your personal or professional life?

From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™

Related Posts:
Workplace Personality Conflicts: Seek Results Not Revenge With People-Skills
People-Skills: The Critical Moment to Handle With Ease & Less Conflict
Careers: Optimism & Realism to Be The One

©2012-2016 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. I appreciate your sharing the link to this post on your social streams. However, if you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please email for permission and guidelines. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.

Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.


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7 Responses to “People Skills: Speak Sooner to Prevent Needless Conflict”

  1. You do such a great job of describing the nuances of difficult interactions; these tough situations happen often in a heartbeat and yet require such self-awareness and mindfulness to assess what is happening, what our own thoughts and feelings are (our reaction), try to discern the other person’s intention, and consider what may be the most effective way to respond that maintains our own self-respect, preserves the relationship and helps us reach our objectives.

    It seems especially complicated in meetings, when there are lots of agendas at play as well as different personalities and alliances. Thanks for a very useful post!

    • Kate Nasser says:

      And your comment Christine creates a vivid picture of what it feels like to be in the moment. That’s what I was thinking about when I wrote this post. Often times we are so into the complexity, we find it hard to cut through it and find the simplicity.

      “Speak sooner” is a mantra that can get our heads about the waves of issues and bring clarity to and for all.

      I am so pleased you found this post useful and hope you will visit and comment often here at Smart SenseAbilities(tm).

      Warmest regards,

  2. Khalid says:

    Great post Kate as usual 😉

    I would emphasis (although you mentioned it) the importance of the balance of when to speak up. That of course depends on the person or the situation. Sometimes when negativity is confronted with critic worsen up the whole situation.

    Thanks again Kate for your creativity.


    • Kate Nasser says:

      Balance is a worthy approach Khalid. Holding on to things too long exaggerates the anger; blurting out the first thing that comes to your mind may also put everyone off kilter.

      Many thanks!

  3. Dain Dunston says:

    Great post. The problem in all these situations is that when you do speak up, most of us are speaking from anger. So getting in their before your ego has a chance to nurse the anger is critical. Just a quick response — even if, with thought, you might have said it more eloquently — will make your point.

    A friend of mine is a master in the martial art of Aikido. In Aikido, rather than meet agression with agression, you use the other person’s energy to redirect their attack and put them off balance. This usually results in you lowering them gently to the floor and then helping them up again.

    Aikido is based on “the loving protection of all living things” (that’s why you lower your off balance opponent gently!). If we can approach everyone we work with in that same way, it’s easier to see through their behavior with love, to understand where they’re coming from and let them see you as a friend and supporter.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Hi Dain,
      Definitely not advising people to speak from anger. Small pause, a bit of ponder, and then a quick response — even a question — opens discussion.

      I love your Aikido analogy. So pleased you shared it here. Gently putting others off balance actually gives others a chance to willingly change course. I agree this doesn’t have to be warfare. When people take a breath and see how they are coming across and understand others, anything is possible.

      Many thanks for your comment here and expanding the discussion of balance.

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