The classic communications model states that someone has a message, the message is encoded (put into words), and then transmitted (spoken). On the other end, the person receives the message (hears it) and decodes it (lets the brain make sense of the words). However, unless you allow the person to respond to the message (give feedback), you’ll never know if your message was received or if it was effective.
Such is the case in communicating during conflict resolution. You have to bring more to the table than just a list of things you find wrong. You have to carefully choose your words and allow the person to respond. Thus both parties continually go back and forth as the sender and receiver. This interaction, respect, and encouragement to speak honestly make for healthy communication, even if the topic is uncomfortable.
Here are eight tips to resolve conflict by using effective communication:
- Speak about behavior rather than make personal attacks. If a person failed to meet a deadline, then the issue is a missed deadline. It’s not “You’re always sabotaging the success of those around you.”
- Phrase the upset from your perspective rather than blaming the other person. Say, “I was very angry when you missed the deadline,” instead of, “You make me angry.” The latter approach will almost guarantee a defensive and argumentative response because it will feel like a personal attack.
- Stick to the facts. “You came to work late three days this week, you missed two deadlines and you made five errors on the work you turned in.” These are provable facts which clearly identify the behavior in question, and therefore can lead to a fix. It’s a more effective approach than, “Your lazy and sloppy work habits have cost us a lot of money.”
- Don’t let upsets linger. If you’re mad at your spouse for something done or not done, don’t wait two weeks to bring it up. The best time to address something is close to the time it happens because it’s fresh in both party’s minds. Sometimes we silently let things go “this time,” but the next time an issue arises, we bring out the current event, plus events from last week, last year and even from the day of our marriage. The other person will be blind-sided and communication will most probably be reduced to a huge argument.
- Clarify communications by rephrasing what the other person is telling you, or ask them to rephrase what you’re telling him/her so you know the message is what was intended. Failure to do so can lead to wrong conclusions and more hurt feelings.
- Have a resolution in mind and be willing to compromise to achieve the goal. If the issue is late arrival, then work together to fix it. “Oh, so you’re late in the mornings because you have to take your child to school? Okay, why don’t you start work a half-hour later? You’ll have to stay a half-hour later, too, but that way you’re child will be safe, you won’t feel so hurried, and we’ll count on you to put in a full day’s work.”
- Clear communication is never more important than when we are trying to resolve conflict in our home or our workplace. We must always remember to encourage people to honestly and respectfully speak their thoughts and allow us to do the same. These six tips can help you find peace and solutions in everyday life.
For more help with conflict resolution please visit Colleyville counselor Tracy Crain.