Communicating during Conflict

In any type of relationship, conflicts are bound to happen. Having conflict sometimes isn’t necessarily a bad thing, some say it’s even healthy for a relationship. However, there are times during conflict where one may say something hurtful, mean, or insensitive, leading to unintended consequences. Effective communication, especially during conflict, can help both parties advocate for their needs while still respecting the other person. Here are some tips for effective communication during a conflict:

  • Focus on problem, not person
    • Focus on what they may be saying or doing (their actions), without attacking their character or who they are as an individual
    • Try to say “I felt upset when ‘x’ happened” instead of
    • “I don’t like how you always ‘x’ “
  • Use reflective listening
    • Repeat back what they say, like “It sounds like (summarize what they said)”
    • This can help show the other party that you are listening and trying to understand where they are come from
  • Use “I” statements
    • I statements help you avoid blaming, instead you are taking responsibility for your own feelings
    • I feel emotion word when explanation
    • Explanation: explain how others actions affected you
  • Know when to take a time out
    • Sometimes we need a 5 minute time-out to take a breather, especially when our emotions are running high. Try to communicate that you need a time-out with the other person and that you will revisit the situation when things feels less heightened.

Conflict, while sometimes unavoidable, can be understandably uncomfortable. With practice, effective communication can help transform the conflict into something both people learn and grow from.

What are some things that help you navigate conflict with others? Have you tried any of these techniques before? If so, what was it like?

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