Conflicts. In your professional world, it is inevitable that conflict will arise. But whether you the one who is hot under your collar, the person across from you is angry or you both are, you will need to learn how to develop some diplomatic communication skills that will allow you to negotiate the situation tactfully.

In my professional life, I have developed some key phrases that I use to deflect tension. I’ve shared some below.

Situation One

The background: You are leading a department meeting. During the meeting, one of your team members asks a question that snowballs into a lengthy conversation. You still have several time-sensitive items on the agenda to address, but you know that if you don’t stop the dialogue in a positive manner that resentment will build. You are also frustrated because it is the same team member that always derails your schedule with sidebar comments and questions.

What you want to say: I’m tired of all the tangents. We are completely missing the point now.

What you should say: I always want to encourage new ideas, but let’s stay on track. We’ll revisit this later.

Situation Two

The background: You and your peer are paired on an important assignment together. When she brings over her first sketches and ideas, you offer constructive criticism to her. She reacts defensively and becomes overly emotional.

What you want to say: Why are you making a mountain out of a molehill?

What you should say: This isn’t an attack on you or your skills – we are both working toward the same goal of turning in the best work possible. I hope that you will also offer suggestions on how to improve my sections. But I know you are upset, so let’s discuss this tomorrow when you feel better.

Situation Three

The background: During a brainstorming session, your colleague and you just can’t see eye-to-eye on a particular issue. When you try to offer an idea, he starts talking over you.

What you want to say: Why is it always your way or the highway?

What you should say: The goal of this discussion is to share opinions and be open to the opinions of others. There’s clearly more than one way of looking at this issue. So why don’t we jot down everyone’s ideas first, and then address the pros and cons of each as a group.

No matter how successful or educated you are, conflict is difficult. Having readily available phrases that are polished and allow you to retain a measure of control will enhance your professional reputation and allow your confidence and leadership skills to shine through!

For more information about conflict at work, check out this article: