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Communication with others

Dealing with conflict

Having challenging conversations with those around you

  • Write it down. Before you talk to them, write down exactly what you want to talk to them about so that it is clear in your mind. Describe the situation/moment that upset you, what you thought in that moment, how you felt in that moment, and what you would like from the person in the future.

  • Pick the right time. Pick a time when you are both calm,ready to talk and ready to listen.
  • Be clear. When talking to the person, have in your mind what you wrote down.

  • Focus on their behaviour rather than who they are as a person. For example, rather than saying “you’re so mean”, tell them what it is that they do that you find mean. E.g. “When you went off with your friends at that party and left me on my own, I thought that was mean”. 

  • Avoid bringing up stuff from the past. Focus on the current issue and stick to this for now – past issues can be addressed at another time.

  • Use “I statements” like I feel… I thought… I want… rather than “you statements” like “you always” and “you never”, which can sound like blaming, judging or attacking.

  • Use your body language as well as your words. Have a calm tone of voice, sit down next to the person, with an open posture, don’t cross your arms, have an angry expression – these things can help the other person to not feel threatened and will help them be more open to what you have to say. 

  • Keep calm. If you feel you’re getting worked up or angry during the conversation, take some deep breaths or a five minute break to calm down.

  • Listen to how they feel. Don’t interrupt. Don’t defend. Just listen and only when they are finished, then share.

  • Try and understand where they are coming from. Let them know you’ve heard them by saying things like “I understand that you feel like I …” and “It sounds like you feel….”
    remember it’s just one opinion. Listen to that opinion and take it on board if it seems like a fair point or something that can help, but if it doesn’t then leave that opinion behind and move on. The important thing is to consider it.

  • Don’t be stubborn or proud - being able to apologise and admit when you’re wrong shows strength, not weakness. A simple “sorry” can save a lot of strife.


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