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Write Things Down to Avoid Ambiguity and Conflict at Work

Lack of good communication results in misunderstandings, differing expectations, and anxiety. If you reduce ambiguity in your communications, you reduce conflict and increase productivity. Yes, it really is that simple. Here's how.

(Photo Credit: Keith Williamson/Flickr)

Write It Down

When discussing, negotiating, or planning projects at work, take notes. Write down who is responsible for what, when things should be accomplished, and anything else decided upon in the meeting. Before the meeting is over, read the list to the group to clarify and make certain that everyone agrees.

This may seem like a simple thing. Forbes considers writing down agreements one of the 3 Secrets to Conflict Resolution. All too often, conflicts arise in the workplace because Sam thought Bob was going to make the phone calls, and Bob never agreed to it. Sam thinks Bob is unreliable, and so on. Meanwhile, the manager is not going to offer either of them a merit raise this year. Oral agreements are not worth the paper they are written on. (You read that correctly.)

Additional Suggestions:

1. Ask each participant to sign your notes after a meeting. This will cause them to clarify what is expected before they sign.

2. Another option is to send an email out a few minutes after a meeting ends. If you assign a chore to somebody who disagrees, you'll hear about it immediately, instead of one week later, when the deadline has passed.

3. Don't think drafting notes and emails, and getting people to look over or sign things is a waste of time; it is not. It is a few minutes that will prevent a lot of heartache down the road. The key is accountability. When people feel accountable, they are more likely to follow through. Writing things down makes people feel accountable.

Tell Us What You Think

How do you avoid ambiguity and conflict at work? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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