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Communication Techniques for Handling Conflict

Growth and change often produce unnecessary competition, contention and conflict.  Unresolved conflict causes stress, frustration, and lost work time.
Resolving conflict effectively will make your workday more enjoyable, productive and rewarding.

Conflict Resolution training is essentially communications skill training geared towards resolving conflict.  You can learn communication techniques for smoothing conflict and dealing with hostile or uncooperative people.  These simple, direct and usable techniques quickly ease tensions, clear the air, and bring good business back into the forefront.

Some Communication Techniques for handling conflict are:

1.         Neutralizing:  We neutralize to take the “sting” out of words; paraphrase what we hear:  For example, if someone says:  "I can’t stand the people at my work."  An example of a neutralized statement:  "So, you want to talk about improving your relationship with your co-workers?"

2.       Active Listening: Involves responses that help to establish trust and give people the feeling that they’ve been heard and understood.  It may include the following: 

  •  nodding your head slightly and simply waiting

  • looking at the speaker expectantly

  • a casual remark like "I see," or "uh-huh" or "I see what you mean." 

  •  reflecting back the speaker's own body posture 

  • or simply smiling and showing your interest.  

3.       “I” Messages: Take responsibility for your own feelings, informs listener how you feel and the reason why. Suggest solutions. "You" place blame, judge, and assumes.  When you blame someone else for your feelings they feel attacked and they go into the attack mode. 

Example of an "I" message: 
"When you consistently interrupt, I feel frustrated."  
As opposed to a "You" message:  "You make me frustrated…"

4.       Giving Feedback:  When you make non-critical observations about a person's behavior it indicates that you have been paying close attention and trying to understand.   Feedback may help to bring feelings into the open and direct attention to problems.

"You seem hurt when you talk of it."
"I've noticed you look at your watch several
times.  I'm wondering if you're concerned about the time?"

 "John seemed pleased with the offer. I'm not sure how you felt about it."

To resolve conflict be more responsive and less judgmental. People are likely to respond to a judgmental person by becoming less spontaneous and more defensive.  Avoid words such as  "right," "wrong," "good," "bad," or their equivalents.  Don't make moralistic statements ("ought" and "should").



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