It’s one of the most important life skills nobody talks about. It has the power to transform our careers, relationships, and the overall quality of our lives. I’m talking about communication strategies and skills, and more specifically, effective communication during conflict.
Let’s be honest: conflict resolution is an area where many of us could use a little (or a lot of) work. When it comes to confrontation, using effective communication is key to not just diffusing the situation, but also finding a resolution.
When you get into a conflict, it’s important to have communication strategies already in place so you can navigate effectively and productively.
Here Are 5 Communication Strategies to Handle Hard Conversations for Clear and Effective Communication:
1. Set an Intention
It’s no secret that you are what you think about. This is especially true when it comes to the way you communicate. If you think the conversation will turn into an argument, then that will probably be the case.
Rather than expect the worst, set a positive intention. Think about what you hope to achieve during the interaction. (How about effective communication, eh?)
Setting an intention keeps you open-minded to various points of view. Whether it’s at work or in relationships, it’s inevitable that people will say things you disagree with.
And this brings us to our next point . . .
2. Recognize That Acceptance Does Not Equal Agreement
In an attempt to stand by their values, many people believe they need to speak up. But this couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Being able to listen and recognize another person’s perspective doesn’t mean you’re in agreement. You can accept their opinions and emotions for what they are, even if they are different from yours.
This is one of the main reasons why so many of us have a hard time being honest during a hard conversation. And it’s unfortunate, because learning how to master these communication skills will allow you to reach people on a new level.
3. Be Clear About What You Think and Feel
You can be honest without being unkind.
For instance, if a coworker isn’t pulling their weight, unclear communication would be, “You’re slacking.” Contrarily, clear and effective communication would be, “I’m concerned after today’s meeting. I want this project to succeed. Let’s come up with ways to make it better.”
In this scenario, there are people who might feel frustrated and gossip. However, gossiping is passive-aggressive and unproductive (not to mention cruel).
You can be honest without being unkind.
An example is saying to your coworker, “Thanks for your input,” and then saying to your other coworker, “More like thanks for nothing.”
Clear and effective communication is: “Thanks for sharing that, but I think we still have work to do. This is what I have in mind.”
This statement is respectful and gets your point across. By being straightforward, you avoid feeling angry and resentful.
4. Take a Proactive Approach
Postponing a difficult conversation only increases your stress and anxiety. So, if there’s a problem, don’t wait.
Confrontation can either be magnified or minimized based on your communication. When it comes to communication strategies, taking a proactive approach shows you care about resolving the issue.
And employers agree. In fact, according to research, employers say maintaining high levels of visibility during a hard conversation is essential.
5. Be Present
This means giving the other person your undivided attention.
When you demonstrate that you are listening and care about what the other person is saying, it increases the chances of a positive outcome.
Being present is the key to effective communication and connecting with others in a deeper way.
Utilize These Communication Strategies to Have More Productive, Meaningful, and Effective Communication
The takeaway: it’s not always what you say. It’s how you say it.
It’s during hard conversations that we grow and learn the most about ourselves. Effective communication comes down to being open-minded, being clear, and being present.