Conflict and Communication 

Conflict is an inevitable part of our lives. Communication is an important aspect in resolving or managing conflict. Communication however has to be effective to produce results. An important aspect of communication is listening.

Effective listening skills, as mentioned previously, takes extra effort on the part of the listener to concentrate on what the speaker is saying.

For a successful Mediation to take place, the Mediator has to be a good listener. Parties to the Mediation also have to make extra effort to listen to one another.

In general, to have a fruitful communication, the speaker must communicate well and the listener must make an effort to focus on what the speaker is saying.

The following techniques can be used to improve listening and communication skills:

1. Concentrate on what others are saying.

It is important to actively concentrate on what others are saying so that effective communication can take place.

2. Send the non verbal message that you are  listening.

This has a lot to do with body language.
Examples of non verbal messages that show you are are listening are;
making eye contact or nodding your head. These actions show the listener that you are listening.

3. Avoid early evaluations.

When the speaker is still talking, avoid assuming, guessing or making immediate judgements.

Early judgements or evaluations when the speaker is still talking usually result in the failure or inability to interprete correctly what the speaker was saying.

4. Avoid getting defensive.

Avoid taking what the other person is saying personally. Careful listening does not mean you always agree with the other person’s point of view. It means you are giving the other person a chance to express his or her opinion.
Too much elaborating, explaining or defending your opinion means you are trying to convince rather than listen.

5. Practice Paraphrasing.

Paraphrasing is a great technique to use for listening and problem solving. It is the art of putting into your own words what you think the speaker is saying and saying it back to the speaker. It is a more subtle way of saying what you think the speaker meant. It also clarifies for speaker that you accurately understand what he or she is trying to say and encourages further communication.

6. Listen and observe.

Listen to the words of the speaker and at the same time, observe for feelings and body language. The way a speaker is talking, behaving and tone of voice used are all part of his or her message.
If the speaker is talking with voice raised, he is most likely angry or frustrated. A person who looks down while speaking is probably shy or embarrassed.

7. Ask questions, ask questions.

This helps to clarify what the speaker is saying and obtain further information.

What are some of the ways you show a speaker that you are listening? Do you have certain techniques you use? If you are the speaker, how do you know if someone is listening to you ….or not?

Communication—When Things Go Wrong

Communication is often regarded as a complex tool that we use on a daily basis to create clear expectations, increase productivity, and manage multiple work styles. However, what tools can we adopt when things go wrong? 

Fostering productive communication in the workplace is necessary if leadership hopes to have employees that can work together multiple times. Creating a positive space to foster effective communication in times of crisis is a large part of that success.

Identify the issue—remaining silent or avoiding an issue will only prolong the difficulties and may increase the impact that issue may have on the overall completion of objectives. It is important to bring issues to light in a supportive, team environment. Assessment without confrontation is imperative.    

Take responsibility—there may be underlying causes, or external factors, but pointing fingers solves nothing and only wastes time. Investigating causes should occur as you move forward in the resolution process. The willingness to be accountable invites trust and confidence.

Don’t be defensive—it is normal to bristle when a finger is seemingly pointed in your direction. However, constructive solutions happen when all members of the process work together to find a resolution. Defensiveness can slow down or even hinder this process.

Pinpoint problems without blame—investigating an issue is important to find a resolution and create future plans to prevent the occurrence. However, pointing fingers and putting others on the defense will only create an environment of disconnect and hinder future teamwork. The point of resolving an issue is to foster growth. It is important to remember that some underlying causes can be out of the control of any one person or group of people.

Provide support—in finding the cause, set the right tone immediately. A predetermined bias is easily conveyed through tone, so remember to approach the situation calmly and with an open mind. Reaffirm that all members of the team or department are there to support the resolution. Trainings and interventions can be initiated without creating a confrontational work environment. Do not avoid difficult conversations. 

Create action plans/learning from mistakes—review the issue, the cause, and the resolution. Summarize for staff and leadership how this can be prevented in the future. Did staff require training? Was communication effective? Was leadership available? Were deadlines and objectives clear and obtainable? Did the staff/team feel they were part of the solution?

Whether you’re a manager, team leader, team member, or department employee, effective communication is one small facet that affects everyone greatly. Approaching any situation with an open mind and self-awareness can increase the value you bring into that moment. Those that cannot communicate through a crisis create a negative impact and lasting impression. 

http://www.jaywalkerconsulting.com
mwalker@jaywalkerconsulting.com

Originally posted LinkedIn Pulse