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5 Strategies To Help Marketers Navigate Stress, Difficult Discussions, And Workplace Conflict


Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

By Kenyatta Skyles

According to the report “Workplace Conflict and How Businesses Can Harness It to Thrive,” 85 percent of employees deal with conflict on some level. Friction can take many forms, such as discriminatory practices in the workplace, interoffice politics, or challenges working within a team dynamic. Whatever the challenges, as marketers, we must have the comfortability to have difficult conversations at work and optimize interpersonal relationships that lead to a team and organization’s desired goal. 

With many people still sheltered in place due to the pandemic, the challenges faced have grown exponentially, such as loss of real-life interactivity, lack of a work/life balance, and “Groundhog Day” syndrome. But with these additional stresses in our lives, how do we address workplace conflicts and unpleasant conversations? This was the focus of AMA New York’s January 14 program entitled “Succeeding in the Moment: Navigating Stressful Conversations and Toxic Behaviors in the Workplace,” presented by communication and marketing thought leader Jacqueline Strayer. Here are five strategies she shared that can help you confront difficult work situations:

1. View Conflicts as Opportunities
What is the potential that can come out of discord? Maybe the challenge is not the concept but in how the concept is presented. Try to comprehend the situation from all perspectives, perhaps leading to an idea you hadn’t considered.

2. Listen Carefully
Make sure you hear what others are saying and find the commonalities. Be sure to ask clarifying questions that show you are interested and care about what the person is discussing. When you avoid problems and head into situations with a detached or bullying approach to the work, you miss the opportunity to have a meaningful conversation and create impact.

3. Let Words Do the Work
“You want the words to do the work,” and this is accomplished by being very intentional with what you are saying and how you are saying it. People may not always hear the words correctly, so you want to be as straightforward as possible with what you are saying and the intention behind them.

Emails can frequently be misconstrued. Their meaning. Their intent. And their tone. And you may never know their unexpected disastrous consequences as they are the silent communications we put out. Read your emails out loud before hitting the send button. More than once. You may have unexpected learning (and changes) to that content!

4. Be Direct
“Direct does not have to be harsh,” and that’s where tone comes into the discussion. Facial expressions, conscious and unconscious body language, and intonation contribute to how people interpret your verbal and nonverbal cues. These aspects play a role in managing a stressful conversation, especially now when so many meetings are hosted on Zoom or a similar video platform.

5. Engage in a Conversation
Clearly state how you feel, and remember when you speak with colleagues, you want to have a dialogue, not a debate. Engaging in conversation will enable you to discover new opportunities and to understand one another better.

I won’t reveal all of Ms. Strayer’s insights, so I encourage you to watch the program in its entirety on-demand below, which also includes an engaging Q&A discussion with tips for marketers seeking to navigate toxic environments and workplace conflict. Watching this webinar is an excellent way to jumpstart your professional development in 2021! 

Kenyatta Skyles is a nonprofit professional with a background in marketing and sales. She is a digital marketing strategist with a passion for video content creation. As a volunteer with AMA New York, Kenyatta serves on the Programming Committee, creating post-event blogs. You can connect with Kenyatta on LinkedIn.