Communicating Differently After Conflict | #PeopleSkills #Leadership

We often ask whether communicating differently can prevent a conflict. The answer is yes it can. We have many ways to communicate without a fight. Yet, sadly, there are times when people do not hear you until you verbally fight. We have seen this with persistent injustice like racism. We have seen this in the face of tyranny as people fight for democracy and freedom. Often, those with power don’t listen until the oppressed raise their voices.

So it then raises the question, can communicating differently once you have people’s attention make a difference? Or should you keep fighting?



Communicating Differently: Image is Different Colored Rocks

Communicating Differently After Conflict. Image by KSI Photography via Flickr Creative Commons License.

Image by KSI Photography via Flickr Creative Commons License.


Communicating Differently After A Fight

There are examples of soldiers who turned to communicating differently when the fight was over. They turned to more peaceful ways of communicating. They took up ceramics, design, poetry, music, to help change the world. There is former US Marine, Ehren Tool, who after fighting in the Middle East got an MFA from Berkeley in pottery and now makes cups for peace. He has given away over 20,000 cups since 2001. He believes that “peace is the only adequate war memorial.”

It would be ideal if we could all listen before there is conflict. Yet when the ideal is not the reality, sometimes we must raise our voices. Then, when the fight is over, we need to express our key thoughts through other means.


Change is OK!

After we’ve been in a conflict, our mind may still be geared to fight. To change how we communicate after a fight, we have to switch our mindsets.

  • Believe in ourselves even when we’re not fighting. Adrenaline during a fight makes us feel strong. As the adrenaline drains out, we may think we are weak. We aren’t. Inner strength is a strong billboard! We can stop worrying that others will think that our calm communication is a weakness.

  • It’s OK to change. Instead of being surprised that former US Marines would take up peaceful pursuits, let’s ask, “How can this switch change the need to fight in the first place?”

  • Assess each situation to prevent conflicts in the first place. It is far more effective than thinking we have only two choices — fight or fail.


Communicating Differently After Workplace Conflicts

This brings me to reflect on conflicts in the workplace. Of course, we hope to communicate openly and disagree without fighting. Yet the truth is that work teams do conflict sometimes. Once the conflict is over, what then?

  1. Take ownership & apologize for hurting others during the conflict. Teams must rebuild trust and go on together. Ignoring the hurts will not make them go away. In fact, the hurts will show up daily if you don’t apologize.

  2. Hear each other out now with open ears. There may be unresolved issues. So take time now to listen without fighting.

  3. Assess what created the conflict. How did it get to the fighting level?

  4. What lessons did you all learn about communicating differently in the future? These lessons are golden! Try to give each lesson a key word to trigger better communication in the future.

  5. How will you celebrate the lessons learned and become a better team now? When I do team interventions, I am impressed with the creative ideas that teammates have.


A Final Thought

Life and work are better without conflict. Yet when conflict seems necessary, let us always find the path to peace as soon as possible. AND let us always learn from conflict how to communicate and disagree without conflict next time.



Your Thoughts: Why is it that some people only listen once we fight?



From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™

Related Posts:
Key Responsibilities If We Want Conflict-Free Conversations
Workplace Conflict Resolution: Key to Resolving Your Anger
Leadership Listening Tips for Resolving Conflict

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Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.

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2 Responses to “Communicating Differently After Conflict | #PeopleSkills #Leadership”

  1. Great article. I think workplace conflict is inevitable and more common as we have larger groups and different personalities. With great diversity comes the potential for great conflict, and it is important that we do not all think the same. Nothing can get done in an echo chamber.
    This article serves as an important reminder that these steps are necessary, even when you do not feel like the conflict has caused any damage. We do not know how the other party feels and long-lasting strain on relationships can begin with even a small conflict.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Hi Justin,
      Love your last sentence about now knowing how other’s feel or what they’ve been through. It is so important to listen and learn and that can help us prevent small disagreements from growing into conflict. We can always disagree yet that doesn’t mean it has to turn into painful scar-building conflict. And yes, when conflict does happen, let’s make sure we resolve it and communicate differently afterward.

      Thank you so much for your comments and expanding this discussion.
      Kate

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