Improving Communication Skills To Resolve Conflict


Improving Communication Skills To Resolve Conflict
Learn to communicate more effectively to resolve conflict and deepen your relationships.

It’s an ongoing art-form to learn how to communicate more effectively in order to deal with conflict and increase intimacy and connection.


Most couples come in to therapy interested in improving the way that they communicate with each other.  It may be that they either don't communicate their needs and avoid conflict OR that they have endless conflict that doesn't get resolved.  In either case, it can feel like they’re not heard, understood and cared for.

Being a good “Engaged Listener” is key to improving communication, so let's start there.

1.  Listen Attentively

It’s much more effective in resolving conflict to take turns so that you can fully dedicate your time to each role.  When actively listening it’s important to spend your time focused on understanding and caring what the other person is saying.  If instead, you’re coming up with your own defense or rebuttal, you lose track of what’s important to the other person, and subsequently they don’t feel valued.  This is when couples get in endless escalating conflicts that never seem to resolve.

2.  Deepen Understanding:

One of the tasks of being an engaged listener, is asking questions for clarification to better understand the other person and learn more about yourself in the process.  What frequently happens in this area are couples who use questions to devalue the other person and/or share their own perspective of what happened.  However, to create deeper understanding while in conflict, it’s necessary to withhold your own perspective for a period of time until the other person feels fully heard.  Allowing yourself space to be curious about another and what triggers you about the situation, can enhance your relationships.

3.  Express Empathy

True empathy is about both understanding and caring.  Start by imagining what it's like for the other person from their perspective, not yours.  Communicate what you imagine it’s like being them, compassionately like, "I hear you felt really hurt by what I said.”  This communication doesn’t deny that you have a different perspective, it just honors their perspective; two people can have the same exact experience and feel very differently about it.  One is not right and the other is wrong.   We also communicate volumes non-verbally so make sure to make appropriate eye contact, and not the kind where you role your eyes or stare them down.

4.  Communicate Understanding:

This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission.
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