Healthy Communication Can Help Clear Up Conflict

Open, honest communication is a hallmark of a healthy family or work team.  Whenever two or more people are involved in a project or daily interactions, however, disagreements, and diverse perceptions of behaviors, etc. are bound to occur.  At times even a conflict of opinions can be expected.

What can a professional do to decrease conflict stress?  One unhealthy response is to talk to everyone else on the team about how the other person may be, for example, being “mean” to her. 

This gossipy response is actually considered to be the most common form of bully behavior today, because it can undermine the other person’s relationships with people who were not involved directly in the conflict.  This could, in addition, even begin to ruin the other’s professional reputation, and can eventually even start to tear teams apart.  Therefore, talking with the other person with whom someone is upset is vital to keep a team working harmoniously.

How to Craft an Assertive Response

Here is an easy to follow template for an assertive statement:

  1. Identify the specific behavior/verbalization that you feel was hurtful/disrespectful
    or inaccurate.  Example:  “When you called me Sister Mary Sunshine. . .
  2. Express how you felt about the situation.  HINT:  not how the other person “made”
    Assertiveness                                p.2
    you feel , as we are all responsible for our interpretations and emotional reactions         
    to another’s behavior.   Example:  “I felt disrespected.
  3. Add what you feel you need from the other person.  Example:  “Next time, please
    state more clearly what you mean, such as are you saying you feel I am being    
    overly optimistic?

This is a simplified way of dealing with an indirect communicator.   Be aware also that just because you choose to be healthy in your communication does not guarantee a positive response.  It will role model for the person, however, and you can also invite her to be open with you, which could, in turn, help her to stop hiding behind sarcasm or other forms of indirect communication.

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