The first step you can take to defuse the situation and solve whatever problems have arisen during an argument is by means of using active listening.
Realize, however, that when people feel strongly about an issue, their emotions will affect their ability to communicate and listen.
It is important therefore to make use of a combination of active and thoughtful listening skills. Following are the five techniques you can use to resolve conflicts and improve effective communication.
1. Avoid absolutes – right/wrong, bad/good. Phrases like “you always” or “you never” are absolutes that obstruct communication.
An active listener will notice these right away and answer with a statement such as, “I hear you saying I always do such and so, but actually I…” The same is true of statements that specify right/wrong or bad/good.
This is not to say there aren’t situations that are right or wrong, bad or good, but in an argument most right/wrong or bad/ good situations are simply exaggerations and the truth is somewhere in between. Sweeping generalizations polarize a conflict.
The focus then is not on solving the problem at hand, but instead the focus is on each party successfully defining her respective position.
2. Send “I feel” messages instead of “you” messages. For instance, when you say, “You don’t know what you’re talking about,” you are sending a “you” message.
An “I” message would be, “I don’t recognize what you’re trying to say.” The “you” message lays blame on the speaker.
The “I” message makes clear your concerns. The same is true with your teen. An “I” message would be, “I be afraid of you when you aren’t home by your curfew,” or “When you come in after your curfew, I feel like you are purposely defying me.”
The “I” message tells the other person how you think about a situation. The “I” message is concerned with the issue. The “you” message assaults the person.
3. Engage your brain and hand up your emotions. This is perhaps the hardest of the five techniques because verbal conflicts by character are emotional.
The ultimate goal is to turn the verbal conflict into a discussion. Verbal conflicts are counterproductive in conducting business and certainly don’t foster a harmonious home life.
Instead of letting your emotions take over, ask yourself, “How can I help solve this problem? What solution is best for both of us? What can we change? You need to control your emotions on behalf of the issue. Listen actively and nonjudgmental.
4. Criticize the issue or behavior, not the person. By dealing with the issue or the behavior, you avoid attacking the other person. If you are “arguing” with your teen about a curfew, confine to the issue of the curfew or to his behavior of breaking curfew.
Don’t unearth all of his past mistakes or call him a “dumb kid who can’t do anything right.”
That is attacking the person. It will harm his self-esteem and will only create obstructions. Listen to what he has to say and keep him on track if he strays from the issue.
Continue to use active listening even if the other person does not. Your use of active listening will help resolve a potentially damaging situation.
5. Understand that each person has worth. It is almost unfeasible to practice active or reflective listening if you reject the speaker as inferior or worthless.
You don’t have to comply with him, but it is crucial that you respect his right to a different opinion and recognize his sense of value. Find something that the two of you have in common. Try to understand what the other person is saying and why he feels a certain way.
Rejection: Don’t Take It Personal
Rejections take place when someone says, “no” to your idea, request, or action. Some people need the appreciation of other people.
They are vulnerable when told “no.” But the assertive person accepts “no” as a denial in a specific situation and doesn’t think that he is being discarded as a person.
Communication is the expression of another’s perception. “No” is not a refusal of you. It is the rejection of an idea. Don’t take it personally.
This only complicates your ability to communicate and lessens your effectiveness and understanding of the situation.
Though there are some dishonest manipulators who say “no” and treat it as a direct rejection of you, most people want the same things from communication. No one likes to be talked down to. Nobody likes rejection.
But honest and straightforward clarification of criticism or rejection helps you to solve the conflict. Concentrate on remaining objective and not giving in to your emotions.
Conflict caused by criticism and rejection can be determined by clarifying the situation with yourself and the other involved.
Don’t store up bad feelings of rejection and anger only to have them resurface later. Clear the air. Express your feelings. Accept the feelings and information of the other person. Then move on.