We all want to approach conflict situations with clear, honest communication that leads to a productive solution everyone can feel good about. But old habits and norms sometimes block direct, open communication. Use these suggestions as a checklist to see if you are communicating in the best possible way at your organization. If you aren’t, an open discussion and agreement to use these practices might be just what is needed to foster healthy, open communication in conflict situations.
- Talk directly to the person you need to talk with. Don’t go around them. Don’t talk about them. Don’t email them. Talk to them face to face if possible, or on the phone if necessary.
- Before engaging in a discussion, stop and ask, do we have the right people in the room? If others are needed to resolve the issue or to add input, get them into the discussion right away.
- When you are bringing up an issue or problem, be sure to also bring ideas for a solution. Don’t just bring up issues to get them off your chest or to complain, but rather come with either a request for help or possible solutions.
- Seek to understand the other person, whether you or the other person is bringing the conflict to light. How do their personal energies and styles differ from yours? How are they emotionally or rationally engaging with you? What are their perspectives? What are their perceptions?
- Use a simple model to help unravel the situation. Be sure you focus on the goal of the interaction, the facts leading up to the situation, the possible solutions, and the decisions you will make. Decide who will do what, and when. Enlist others as needed to complete the action plan. Follow-up to see that what you agreed on happened.
Conflict in communication is universal; being human, we have different wants and needs, and we don’t always communicate perfectly. Keep the lines of communication open, and keep an open mind.
What other suggestions would you make to help work through conflict with healthy communications?