The # 1 Communication Style to Avoid Conflict
By Renee Concepcion LISW-S, LICDC-CS
Lets be honest, conflict is miserable. Whether it’s with a stranger or our partner conflict adds stress to our lives where we have little to no room for it. Often conflict with someone happens when we aren’t prepared for it and haven’t had the time to outline our “speech;” or perhaps we have something important to say that we are afraid will end in conflict. Well lucky you because I have one very important communication tip that will assist in you avoiding future unwanted conflicts.
It’s actually quite simple, just talk about yourself. That’s right, we are going to use our “I statements.” What we don’t realize is that when we are in a conversation with someone else that is becoming hostile or argumentative we are probably using our “you statements” not our “I statements.” Lets see if this sounds familiar…
“ You always forget to take out the trash”
“ You’re the one that hurt my feelings and ignores me”
“ I can’t believe that you said that”
“ You don’t understand”
While you might feel justified in the points your making the delivery of those points are all wrong. When we use “you statements” the person who is on the receiving end of those statements don’t actually hear us, they instead are becoming defensive and thinking of the next thing to say back. Naturally, using “you statements” sounds accusatory and makes the listeners put up their walls to protect themselves. We would be much better communicators if we just spoke about ourselves and informed the person we’re talking to about the way we think and feel. Here is how the above quotes would look using our “I statements”…
“I’ve noticed the trash has been forgotten lately, I’m wondering what to do about that”
“ My feelings were really hurt before because I felt ignored”
“ I’m really struggling with what was just said”
“ I’m feeling misunderstood lately”
When we use our “I statements” they are received much better because they don’t cause the listener to feel under attack. Instead the listener will often lean in to hear what your saying better because you’re talking about yourself. When two people in a conversation have the chance to speak for themselves and respond based on their own thoughts and feelings conflict is typically avoided.
Now let me be clear, this takes practice! Using “I statements” is a learned communication style that we all can adopt. The more you practice the better you’ll get and before you know it this will be your go-to way of communicating. So just remember, it’s more important that you talk about yourself rather then at someone else. Good luck!