Effective Communication During a Conflict

Effective Communication During a Conflict

Effective Communication During a Conflict by Jennn Fusion

Americans are spending more time with their coworkers than their families these days, so it’s no surprise that

workplace conflict is an unavoidable occurrence. Sometimes the turmoil arises as personalities clash and other

times tone or body language gets misinterpreted. People often have differing views on how to achieve the same

goal. Knowing effective communication strategies is the best way to arm yourself should conflict wedge itself

into your day.

Choose Atmosphere.

The effectiveness of communication during a workplace conflict often hinges upon the atmosphere of the

discussion. The worst conflicts erupt when someone is caught at a bad time, so it’s best to inquire, “Do you

have a moment when we can talk in private?” Schedule a time where your temper isn’t flaring and you’ve had

time to think about your approach. Do not discuss any work-related matters in the midst of your coworkers.

Anna Martyn, managing director of Careers by Design, told Destiny Magazine it’s important to avoid personal

attacks or emotional outbursts, avoid making assumptions or using hearsay in your arguments.

Avoid Obstacles.

A number of common obstacles get in the way of effective communication during conflict. You may be

unknowingly guilty of these moves that inadvertently sabotage your best efforts at resolving the crisis.

Advising is a common mistake beginning with “What you should do is…”. Diagnosing is another tendency,

where people start with “Your problem is that you…”. Your natural inclination might be to discount, saying,

“Cheer up, it’ll be fine” or to lecture, moaning “How many times do I have to tell you?” Threatening with

Source: Fusion, Jennn. “Effective Communication During a Conflict.” Small Business – Chron.com, http://smallbusiness.chron.com/effective-communication-during-conflict-821.html. Accessed 09 January 2020.

ultimatums and preaching that your companion “ought to know better” are other obstacles to effective

communication to avoid.

Heed Non-Verbals.

Non-verbal communication will make or break your conflict resolution. How many times have you been in an

office where someone rolls their eyes, clenches their jaw or gives a coworker the cold shoulder? Even though

nothing has been said, the message has been received. Be sure to make steady eye contact during a conflict,

use a steady tone of voice, maintain upright posture and use gestures carefully. A reassuring touch on the arm

and an empathetic facial expression can go a long way, but erratic gesturing with your arms and an elevated

decibel can work against you.

Listen Actively.

You’re not always the initiator of conflict, so it’s important to know what to do if someone comes to you,

agitated and argumentative. The Association for Applied Sport Psychology says active listening is one of the

best ways to manage conflict. Displaying a willingness to hear your colleague’s concerns will help alleviate

any conflict. Show interest by making eye contact, nodding in agreement and asking calm, sensible questions.

While you may not agree with the entirety of the argument, try to find points you do agree with and validate

the speaker’s opinions. Paraphrase the main points to show you understand.

Focus On I-Statements.

“I Statements” are one of the best communication techniques you could use in any conflict. You’ve probably

caught yourself saying things like “I hate when you…”, “You always…”, “You never…” or “You’re so…”. These

statements automatically puts coworkers on the defensive to your criticism and conflict escalates. Instead, try

statements like “I feel unimportant when you’re late for our meetings” or “I felt disappointed when the reports

aren’t finished following the guidelines.” Take responsibility for your feelings and use questions to get back on

track, such as, “So where do we go from here?”

Opt For Detachment.

Sometimes the best way to deal with an irate coworker is to ignore, distract or detach, according to Rick

Brenner of Chaco Canyon Consulting. There are times when it’s more advantageous to defer your coworker to

a supervisor, rather than deal with the problem yourself. Bemused detachment can sometimes de-escalate a

situation. For instance, try remarking, “Do you have a case of the Mondays or what?” Or “Did I forget to

remove the bull’s eye from my chest before I walked in here?” If executed right, a lighthearted detachment can

Source: Fusion, Jennn. “Effective Communication During a Conflict.” Small Business – Chron.com, http://smallbusiness.chron.com/effective-communication-during-conflict-821.html. Accessed 09 January 2020.

take away some tension. Use distractions to your advantage to change the topic momentarily when things get

heated.

References (3)

 BNET: Understanding Non-Verbal Communication

 Chaco Canyon Consulting: Using Indirectness At Work

 Intent Magazine: Taking The I-Road — A Better Way To Solve Conflict

Resources (2)

 Conflict911: Minimizing Conflict With Effective Communication

 MedicineNet: 11 Communication Tips For A Healthy Workplace

About the Author

Jennn Fusion has been working as a professional writer for more than eight years. Her work has appeared

online at USAToday.com, Chron.com, Business.com, Donklephant.com, BlogTO.com, Crawdaddy.com,

MobileLifeToday.com and VicePresidents.com. She also has a variety of copy published on small business

blogs and websites. Jennn holds a Bachelor of Journalism and English.

Photo Credits

 tired boss image by Marin Conic from Fotolia.com

Source: Fusion, Jennn. “Effective Communication During a Conflict.” Small Business – Chron.com, http://smallbusiness.chron.com/effective-communication-during-conflict-821.html. Accessed 09 January 2020.

Effective Communication

Effective Communication