The Simplicity of Communication

The Simplicity of Communication

Last month we had a great Lunch and Learn session at cHRysos HR, when our guest speaker was Victoria Pritchard of Redvoice. Victoria is an actress and has appeared in a number of TV programmes you may have come across including Holby City, Bad Girls and Emmerdale. She is also the face of the Ocean Spray cranberry juice adverts! When not in an acting role Victoria delivers coaching in presentation and communication skills.

Victoria’s brilliant session with our Lunch and Learn group prompted me to write about an area of communication we come across in the workplace that can be challenging – dealing with conflict.

All of us come across conflict in our lives, whether that’s at work, or with family and friends but it’s how we resolve these situations that has an effect on how we feel afterwards. Communication is without doubt the key, but it’s not just about being willing to talk about the situation. What we also need to do is think about our own perspective or take on what has happened, how we might have contributed to the situation and prepare for the approach we are going to take to try and resolve it.

Think about your perspective

When we are in a situation of conflict we can become consumed by all-or-nothing thinking, assuming one person is right and the other is wrong. We might lay blame and make generalised statements about the scenario.

Two extremes we might use are escalation and avoidance. Escalation is about shouting, being sarcastic, using our authority or other techniques. This kind of behaviour might provide a short-term resolution but it isn’t healthy for longer term relationships.

Avoidance is about hoping for the best by doing nothing. This might happen when we are worried about the consequences of saying something, because the risks appear to be greater than the benefits. By using avoidance though we don’t give others the opportunity to learn how their behaviour has affected us, to hear an alternative viewpoint or resolve the situation.

Escalation and avoidance stand in the way of comprise and understanding. It’s far better to ask the individual to sit down and talk the situation through so that you can try and understand each other’s viewpoint. That way we can avoid making assumptions about someone’s intentions.

Think about your contribution

It can be quite easy to identify that someone else’s behaviour is causing a problem but it’s not always as easy to see that our own actions are causing a problem. (Top 10 Tips for Developing Self-Awareness)

Conflicts normally arise because of someone’s perspective of the facts of a situation – what they saw happen or heard said that caused the conflict. It is then about the feelings or emotional reaction that this creates. It’s important in resolving conflict for both parties to try and share both of these – what happened and how did it make them feel.

It’s also really helpful though to look at ourselves in the situation. Was there anything we did that didn’t help? What is really important here?

Think about your message

When we do sit down and talk to someone about the conflict going on between us, we can feel awkward and flustered and lose the message we are trying to put across.

It’s really helpful, in advance of the conversation to think about what you will say and how you will say it.

What is it that’s important to you and how could you get that across appropriately?

What might the other party say and how will you respond?

Writing out a plan and rehearsing it may help, but remember it’s not a presentation and an important part of the conversation is listening to the other person. As well as being authentic and clear.

Be realistic

Don’t lose sight of the fact that you do have to be realistic about what can come out of the conversation. You might not be able to change the mind-set of the other person but you can let them know how you feel and what’s important to you.

Ask about how cHRysos HR can help you mediate conflict in the workplace or provide support with managing grievances.

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