With the year’s end in sight and the next round of holidays coming right up, you might find that there are more miscommunication upsets occurring than normal. Whether at work or at home, people are experiencing more stress than ‘normal’. Did you know 45% of American would advocate skipping the whole holiday season Thanksgiving to New Years? Perhaps that helps you understand how many people feel the additional stress during this time of year.

I offer these four tips as a way to start talking about a Conscious model of Relationships. These tips work when you are upset with someone or when they are upset with you OR the ideal situation when both parties are upset with each other. Yes, that last bit was sarcasm.

Tip #1 Mind Reading is Bullshit, So Help People Out Ask For What You Want

Listen up. I’m very psychic, but I can’t read Steven’s mind or anyone else’s for that matter. Really. I wish I could. I bet you wish you could too. Wouldn’t that be easier? So let’s just agree that no one can read minds. Yes, you might be able to predict needs and wants sometimes. BUT not 100% of the time. Right?! So if we can stop making others wrong when they don’t give us what we want, it would stop a LOT of miscommunications, misunderstandings, and overall breakdowns. Before you make them wrong, share what it is that you want. And don’t forget to ask your colleague, family, spouse etc. what they want and need too.

Tip #2 Skip Monologues and Instead Try Communicating

Okay let me define both Monologue and Communication first.

Definition of a Monologue: a prolonged talk or discourse by a single speaker, especially one dominating or monopolizing a conversation.

Definition of Communication: the exchange of information between two individuals (goes back and forth).

You might read those above definitions and think I communicate. I don’t monologue. I did too. It wasn’t until a very close friend said “I love you, but you are not a great listener” that I recognized that I had been more focused on speaking. Note the word “exchange”. Back and forth. Why does that exchange not always happen in resolving conflicts? I think there are two people inside each of us. One who doesn’t flinch from having hard conversations. Then the other person inside of us who, for sometimes valid reasons, keeps our upsets inside and makes the best of things or avoids it all together.

If you are applying this tip to an upset where you have kept it to yourself, this paragraph is for you. When you finally get it together to communicate, it can feel like if the person interrupts, you won’t be able to get it all out. Here is the thing though. If your words come out like a fire hose directed at the person in front of you. No breaths. No pause. No interaction needed from them. That, my friend, is a straight up monologue.

If you have been having that hard conversation and the conflict is still not resolved, this paragraph is for you. Check in with yourself. Did the person in front of you respond to this hard conversation or were they mostly mute? Did you get your point of view, thoughts, and feelings out, but didn’t ask them for theirs? Yep, that ‘hard conversation’ was a monologue.

Effective communication is made up of one small part – speaking. The larger and more impactful part of communication, especially in conflict resolution, is listening. Deep listening. Whether you are comfortable or not in confrontational situations doesn’t really matter. What actually matters is you notice if a dialogue occurs. A back and forth conversation where both parties got to share openly and be heard fully.

Tip #3 We Are Not the Same But We Can Still Get On The Same Page

We are different people who come from different places, both physically and philosophically. I know this seems like an obvious statement. But when we are upset and have a certain position in an argument, it is hard to remember that these differences mean we will view the conflict itself and the solution from a different perspective than the person we are in the conflict with. If you are willing to get into that other person’s world, you can approach them metaphorically speaking at where they are versus where you are.

Most people don’t love being in a state of conflict. There are exceptions. Overall, though we want the same thing when in a conflict, to have it resolved. Communication, as I mentioned in Tip #2, is your access to having everyone get what they desire. I know it seems almost too simple. Speaking is a small part of communication. Listening is more important. Getting into someone else’s world requires being interested, curious, and willing to engage without defensiveness or being focused on being right.

Tip #4 Discover the Miscommunication And The Upset Resolves Itself

Conflicts come right back again when the true source of the upsets isn’t resolved. A miscommunication typically is the source of an upset. If the typical way of resolving conflict is to just give one or the other of you “their way”, it will come back. Why? Expressing upset is a very small part of resolving conflict. How do you discover what the miscommunication was? Try first asking the following questions:

  1. What was the intended outcome of the communication? (this can only be discovered in an exchange with another person btw).
  2. What was the actual outcome of the communication?
  3. What happened?

A few things to keep in mind that will help you as you apply these tips:

  • The outlined tips aren’t universally applicable. Meaning they may not work in every situation and with every person. Before you approach someone to resolve a conflict, take a moment to think about how you have seen them approach conflict in the past. Trust your intuition.
  • Choose an opportunity for a conversation where you and the other person will feel free to speak openly.
  • If you are feeling really triggered and know that you aren’t in a place to listen without defending or blaming, pause. Wait until you are less upset. If you approach someone to resolve an upset and notice they are really triggered, be patient and come back later.

Let me know how this goes.