I tend to think of this as an issue of "perception filters"; two people can have very different perceptions of the same conversation, based on a whole range of factors that can include personality, stress levels and cultural background. What one person sees as logical and reasonable, another may find insulting.
I think one of the hardest things to master in the workplace - or indeed in life - is how to vary your communication style, so that you can communicate highly effectively with a range of different people.
Most management/leadership training tends to use some kind of personality profiling (such as DOPE, or MBTI) initially as a way of helping you understand that while we are all individuals, there are some broad traits or groupings that can be used to help you identify what communication approach is likely to be effective.
When I started to get trained in these (and being coached does help) as well as the Process Communication Model, for the first time I started to understand both my own (sometimes irrational) reactions and those of others - there were models and rules that I could be trained in, learn and apply. And they work.
Similarly, there are a few simple, and key language techniques that you can learn to apply that are also highly effective. They feel horrible false at first, but with practice become quite natural - and, I have discovered, start to spread through the team a bit like a virus.
There's a key bit of advice in Covey's "Seven Habits" : "Seek first to understand, then be understood."
If you are a fast thinker and fast talker, one of the key issue here is that people may think that you haven't listened to or understood their viewpoint. There is also a possibility, of course, that they are right.
One way to manage this is:
- before you disagree with someone, reflect their viewpoint back to them as it shows you have fully understood and acknowledged their position. "So, you are saying that we should focus in the European market first.."
- use the "however technqiue" "So, you are saying that we should focus in the European market first, however.."
- then present your idea, but as a point of view, "So you are saying that we should focus on the European market first, however, from my perspective, I think that's a big risk because of the state of the Euro..."
In my team this has become a bit like a code, that we all adopt, so that we can disagree and discuss things we think are really important - even when under pressure - without the conversation heating up. And it works too.
So I'd suggest :
- be reassured that many of us go through this in our careers
- find out about your own communication style; DOPE (above) is a good start
- when you start with this, it may feel a bit weird, but stick with it
- look for different styles in others (these show up clearest under stress)
- practice reflecting back others ideas before presenting your own
- practice presenting your viewpoint as just that
As a final point - be aware of the "cultural framework." There's a saying that "the English are too polite to be honest, and the Dutch are too honest to be polite" Having lived and worked in both countries there's some truth to this, and its repeated across many countries and cultures.