If you find it difficult to engage with others over tough or sensitive subjects, you would benefit from learning how to more effectively handle conflict and have more productive, “difficult” conversations with the people around you.
You should add to your reading list, Getting to Yes
, by Roger Fisher and William Ury, which is the best source on strategies for achieving win-win solutions. Another good resource is Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most
by Stone, Patton and Heen. After reading these books, look for three specific opportunities to put these ideas into practice. You may find that it would be helpful to ask someone close to you to act as a sounding board and a coach on these issues.
If you have a tendency to be argumentative, it could be that your intellect and forceful personality will often be at the forefront of these interactions. While you may see yourself as simply stating your case well, others are likely to see you as being someone who is too quick to jump into conflict. It will be beneficial for you to look at this aspect of his personality in the way that others are likely to perceive it. To that end, we recommend that you hold off on your initial reaction to jump into conflict when someone challenges you. Instead, you should make an effort right away to truly put yourself in the other persons’ shoes and understand why it is that they see the situation from their perspective. In doing so, you should make an effort to not argue your case until you have spent a significant amount of time truly understanding the other person’s perspective.
For some people, a potential area for conflict can arise due to their desire to help others coming up against their strong need for order and structure. These two areas can come into conflict when more than one person begins to put pressure on them to meet their needs. If you are someone like this, you will find yourself torn between trying to figure out who takes precedence over whom. While you may, for now, be able to go to your boss and ask for help in determining priorities, it would be good for you to start working on handling these kinds of situations yourself. To that end, you should explore with your boss the kind of thinking that needs to be done in order to solve such conflicts when they occur. With some guidance, you should be able to discern what the key decisions points are for your boss and begin to use them yourself.