Conflict prevention

Conflict prevention

Good relationships are not without their conflicts, big or small. The fact that the relationships you have seem good to you will not protect you from possible future conflicts and do not guarantee you peace at work or at home. The complexity of human nature and interpersonal relationships are sufficient ingredients for a dispute. What can protect us is effective communication with others, verbal and non-verbal expression, unequivocal, unambiguous, dominated by the desire to understand and cooperate with others.

One of the most valued and least confrontational forms of interpersonal communication is assertive 'I' communication. This is learned through small, daily exercises and expresses care for the other person, their rights and needs, their feelings. It is the type of communication that provokes the least negative reactions in the other person and encourages taking responsibility for messages. Assertive communication is based on the principle that you can express your ideas and emotions in a clear, concise and neutral way and demand respect for your rights without violating the rights of the other person. It is at an equal distance from aggressive and passive communication and reveals the message sender's belief in the equality of the partners in the relationship and the equal importance of opinions, both through verbal (words), nonverbal (body language) and para-verbal (verbal elements behind words such as tone of voice, verbal flow, intonation, etc.). This means that not only words are the key to communication, but also eye contact, mimicry, gestures and the way we pronounce words. Of course, everything must be done honestly, without sounding artificial. If you do not know how to do it, then, in order to practice, you can start by adding a smile appropriate to the message, discreet but visible. Learn to capture the other person's attention in a way that will arouse their interest in what you are about to say. For example: "I'd like to talk about what happened between us at the meeting on..., but I feel uncomfortable because I think you'll get upset. When do you think it would be appropriate to talk?". Then modify your requests so that they take the form "I think that...", "It seems to me that...", "I would like to...", "Do you mind if I...?" etc., maintaining eye contact with the interlocutor and keeping the message short and concise. There needs to be consistency between all three aspects, verbal, nonverbal and para-verbal, so do not overdo it. Let the other person finish their sentences, do not interrupt. If you have, apologize and invite him/her to continue. Avoid making assumptions, rather find out directly from him/her what you want to know. Also avoid sarcasm, it will spoil all the work so far. If you have criticisms to make, do not criticize the person, but their behavior and communicate how that behavior made you feel.

In addition, continue to offer an alternative solution that will make you feel better in the future. Do not make accusations, they do not help you. Acknowledge your own mistakes in the most honest way possible and show your concern for their consequences on your partner. To learn to be assertive, practice step by step, adding another element only when you master the one you are learning. Remember that mistakes are also part of the learning process. If you forgot to smile today or missed a sarcastic remark it does not mean that everything you have learned so far has been lost, so don't get discouraged. Letting go of old behaviours is harder than learning new ones.

Another characteristic of assertive communication is the continuation of the conversation until it is concluded. We do not leave it because we are bored or because we find something more important to do at that moment, nor do we monopolize the discussion. The voice should be calm, friendly, confident and facial expressions should be open and relaxed. Many people avoid doing this because they feel they will not be able to assert themselves, when in fact the result is the opposite. A confident, calm and friendly individual will assert themselves more easily than an aggressive and intimidating one who only causes tension which, when built up, will eventually lead to an aggressive reaction from others.


Updated on 2/6/23, 10:27 AM