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Effective Communication for Dealing with Conflict

Effective Communication for Dealing with Conflict

Before you begin, ask yourself why you feel upset – Are you truly angry because the ketchup was left on the counter? Or are you upset because you feel like you’re doing an uneven share of the housework and this is just one more piece of evidence? Take time to think about your own feelings before starting an argument.

 Discuss one issue at a time – “You shouldn’t be spending so much money without talking to me” can quickly turn into “You don’t care about our family.” Now you need to resolve two problems instead of one. Plus, when an argument starts to get off topic, it can easily become about everything a person has ever done wrong. We’ve all done a lot wrong, so this can be especially cumbersome.

Use “I” statements – When sharing a concern, begin your sentence with an “I” statement.  This technique will help you share your true feelings about the situation instead of spewing blame which will often cause defensiveness.

“I feel ____________ when you ____________ because ____________.”

Use reflective listening – Oftentimes we focus on getting our own point across rather than listening.  When reflecting, you will repeat back what someone has said to you, but in your own words.  This shows that you didn’t just hear the other person, but you are trying to understand them.  For example, you can say, “I think this is what you’re telling me, but correct me if I’m wrong.”

“I hear you saying that…”     

“It sounds like you feel…”    breakup-908714_1280

“You’re telling me that…”

Focus on the problem, not the person – When a disagreement turns to personal insults, raised voices, or mocking tones, the conversation is no longer productive. Be careful to focus on the problem without placing blame on the other person.  No put-downs, swearing, or name-calling.  Degrading language is an attempt to make your partner feel bad.

 Know when to take a time-out – When the conversation is becoming argumentative, insulting, aggressive, or is a repetitive pattern, it’s a clue for a time-out.  The person who called for the time-out is the person who will call for a time-in when he or she feels calm and relaxed enough to continue the conversation.  Spend some time doing something alone that you find relaxing.  Focus on how you can make this a more productive conversation.

Work toward a resolution – Disagreement is a normal part of a relationship. If it becomes clear that you and your partner will not agree, focus on a resolution instead. Attempt to find a compromise that benefits both individuals. Ask yourself if this disagreement really matters to your relationship and let yourself move on, if not.

IMG_0072_DawnDawn Schroeder is a professional counselor who enjoys helping people of all ages overcome life’s struggles.  She also has a special place in her heart for working with children and teenagers.  To learn more about Dawn, or to set up an appointment click here.

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Every Yes is a No!

Every Yes is a No!

I am currently reading The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst – a very good book so far.  The night before I read chapter nine, I happened to read a blog about how to have a decluttered kitchen.  The next day while reading chapter nine of The Best Yes, I realized that they were both saying the same thing.  We are always saying yes to something and no to something.

I had heard this concept before when it came to time management – we only have 24 hours in each day and everything you say yes to inevitably means that you are saying no to some other thing that you could have done with that time.   I had always understood it in that context.  It even made perfect sense to me in regards to how we spend our money – a yes to the brand new car might mean a no to the freedom to go on that spur-of-the-moment trip.

This concepYEs NOt was very easy to understand in regards to the physical and concrete things in our lives like money and time.  However, after reading that blog and chapter nine, I began to considered just how much this principal impacts our lives in EVERY area, including the less tangible ones like the emotional and spiritual areas of our lives.

Consider this, if I say no to a conversation that could potentially cause conflict, I may be saying yes to misunderstanding and resentment.  If I say yes to procrastination on that project, I am saying no to peace of mind.  If I say no to God’s prompting to take a leap of faith, I am saying yes to the disappointment of not knowing how God had planned to miraculously provide.  If I say yes to hanging on to every item of clothing I ever buy because I might need it someday, I am saying no to the tranquility of a well-organized closet that I will use every day.  There are so many, possibly millions, of applications of this principle in each day of our lives.  When that realization set it, I knew that I could no longer live my life without considering it at every opportunity I could.

When I am real with myself about what each yes means and what, out of necessity, I am saying no to, I believe my life will experience a new-found level of clarity.  It’s time for me to step out of the denial that I can have my cake and eat it too and own the fact that every no is also a yes.  What an exciting thing to learn!  I can’t wait to see how it changes me.  How will it change you?

Corina Helgestad imageCorina Helgestad is a professional counselor who especially likes working with teen girls in such areas as self-esteem, cutting, suicide, depression, and anxiety. To learn more about Corina, or to set up an appointment click here.

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