How to Manage Conflict Through Communication

by S. Grey

    Communication is one of your best tools in managing conflict, but you must do it the right way. You can use many positive tactics to help manage conflict. Communication that involves active listening and emotional awareness promotes resolution on both sides of conflict. When you utilize tools that make others feel heard and reduce the impact of emotions, you create an environment more conducive to effective conflict management.

    Active Listening

    When you actively listen to others, you manage conflict by making them feel heard. Active listening is a process of hearing and attending to what people tell you, then repeating what they said in your own words. Effective active listening involves some back and forth, but reduces space for misunderstanding. By repeating others' words, you show them you are paying attention to them and give them a chance to correct your interpretation based on their perspective. In the end, you create a less defensive and more accepting atmosphere conducive to resolving conflict.

    Limit Stress' Impact

    Conflict can naturally induce a state of stress, so get a hold on it to help you manage conflict. Stress impairs your ability to think clearly, understand your and others' emotions and effectively listen to others. Reduce the impact of stress by taking time to breathe and clear your mind, then notice any spots of tension within your body and relax. Keeping your emotions grounded means you can more efficiently communicate with others to manage conflict.

    Emotional Awareness

    Understanding your emotions during conflict will help you communicate better. If you are unaware of your feelings, you create the capacity for them to influence more of your thinking and communication. During conflict, take a moment to assess your feelings. By working to understand your feelings, you are able to think more clearly but also communicate better. Keeping your emotions in check begins with knowing them and ends with more effective conflict resolution.

    I Statements

    I statements allow you to manage conflict by holding yourself accountable for your feelings and stating why they occurred. I statements begin with you stating a feeling, the event that prompted the feeling and why you feel that way. For example, an I statement you may use with a friend can look like: I felt lonely when you left me at the party because you were the only person I knew. Instead of blaming others, I statements shift the perspective to you and how you feel, a beneficial tool for working through conflict.

    About the Author

    S. Grey has a Master of Science in counseling psychology from the University of Central Arkansas. He is also pursuing a PhD and has a love for psychology, comic books and social justice. He has been published in a text on social psychology and regularly presents research at regional psychology conferences.

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