How to Communicate Through Conflict

Communicating through conflict doesn’t have to be that hard. It can be… but it doesn’t have to be.

And the key is your mindset during the conflict. What are you thinking about when communicating with the person you are in conflict with?

Are you thinking about winning the discussion, regardless of what comes later?

Are you thinking about trying to get away from it as soon as possible, and are OK with giving in just to end it?

Or are you thinking about creating the best possible outcome while preserving some sort of relationship afterwards?

The key to communicating through conflict is to realize that the best path is not to always push hard and win as often as possible. If you take that route, you will win some, you will lose some, But even when you win, it might be a Pyrrhic victory. People might resent you, and in the long run you will lose out in other ways.

But on the other hand, the key to communicating through conflict is also not to simply give in and get away. You will also regret that later, build up some deeply embedded resentment within yourself towards the other person, and no one will be happy.

No… the key to communicating through conflict is to have faith in your position, but at the same time respect the other position. And when you have the other person on the defensive, but you care about the long-term relationship, make sure to give them an escape route. The more you let people maintain some “face,” the more often you will end your conflict with self-respect intact, on both sides. If you really don’t care about the long term, then the escape route is less of an imperative. But even under those circumstances, the “high road” may still be the better long-term play.

Treat people with respect, stand politely firm if you believe in what you say, but always give people a chance to save face. If you follow those three rules, you will come out feeling good more often than not, and will always be able to look yourself in the mirror and smile. In other words, try to redefine what “winning” looks like. Winning is rarely about extracting as many concessions from the other side as possible. If you care about the long term, winning usually means extracting enough for yourself that you feel good, but letting the other side walk away with some dignity as well.

Communicating through conflict does not have to be a zero sum game.

It really isn’t that hard.

Have a great day.

Does your team:
– Take too long to make decision?
– Fail to ask for what it wants or needs from you?
– Make things too complicated?
– Deliver unconvincing or disorganized presentations?
– Have new hires who are unprepared to communicate in the workplace?

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Brett Slater

A book about change

The Latimer Group’s CEO Dean Brenner is a noted keynote speaker and author on the subject of persuasive communication. He has written three books, including Persuaded, in which he details how communication can transform organizations into highly effective, creative, transparent environments that succeed at every level.