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The next time you disagree with someone, keep these "is nots" in mind:

Hearing is not listening. Many workplace disputes begin -- or get worse -- because people hear what others say, but they're not really listening. The three basics of good listening: (1) Clear your mind of distractions. (2) Concentrate on the words. (3) Pay careful attention to the nonverbal gestures, including voice tone.

Acknowledging is not agreeing. Use acknowledgement phrases to recognize others' positions and feelings without agreeing with them. Examples: "I understand why you're upset." "If I've got this right, you believe we should ..." "That's an interesting idea. Let's look at it in more depth."

Acknowledging is not yielding. Once you acknowledge others' views, it's your turn to present yours. Offer constructive criticism and allow others to challenge you the way you challenged them. Possible approach: "I've listened to your views, and now I'd like you to hear what I have to say, OK? I doubt that plan will work, but here's what we can do ..."


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