July 5, 2022

How to Improve Your Communication During Conflict

Kathy Nguyen

1.    Avoid the Use of "Always"and "Never" 

When discussing someone's behavior it is best to avoid using "always" and"never." Using these two phrases will not help the situation and putsa lot of blame on the other person. Using these two words in the conversation will add a lot of fuel to the fire and it will escalate the situation insteadof resolving the conflict. Here are some examples: "You are always late to work," instead you can say "You can work on being more punctual towork." Another example, "You never want to finish the tasks,"instead you can say "Have you worked on the tasks this week?"Rephrasing how you state your sentences can prevent conflict from happening.  


2.    Use "I" Statements 

At a point of the conflict conversation you will have to address your interpretations of your behaviors. When this time comes, phrase your interpretation in the form of"I" statement. Using the word "I" can help you hold more accountability instead of blaming others. Here are some examples, "When you speak loudly, I feel like you are angry with me," instead of "Why are you so angry?"  Another example is, "When you speak that directly, I feel threatened," instead of "Why are you threatening me?" 


3.    Beware of Your Non-Verbal Messages 

A person can respond negatively in the way that you portray yourself. If you are coming off as aggressive, threatening, dismissive, disrespectful, etc. the conversation will not go so well. However, it will be helpful to maintain steady eye-contact, relaxed posture, a calm voice tone and this will help improve communication when conflict arises. In times of conflict, having open body language will signify that you are willing to resolve the conflict. 


4.    Build Active Listening Skills 

You may hear what your colleagues have to say, but are you actually listening to them? Our mind tends to wander when other people are speaking to them. This results in us not truly absorbing on what is being said. Even getting a message online, we will read it and then forget about it. It is important to create a culture in a work place where people really listen to each other. Having good listening skills will be helpful when it comes to conflict. Having a consistent stance of being open to hearing other people's opinions even though it may be different from yours will help conflict from arising.  


5.    Recognize and Respect PersonDifferences 

People at work may having opposing viewpoints, behaviors, and work styles that can cause a lot of arguments and misunderstandings. People may have clashing personalities, but they can work on being aware of their differences and how they view the situation. If people can realize that people can interpret the same event in different ways this will prevent conflicts from happening. Each of us see and experience the world differently depending on our culture, values, experiences, etc. If we can recognize that differences exist it will make it easier to have discussions from different viewpoints. 


See you next time! 



Kathy Nguyen is a Psychology student at the University of California, Riverside. While going to school, she is also a research assistant in the Leadership and Groups Dynamic Lab at the University of California, Riverside. She also takes the role as a Human Resource and Psych intern at Thaddeus Resource Center. After graduating college, she aspires to become an I/O Psychologist.