Food for Thought on Successful Communication and Conflict Resolution

Always remember:  Don’t allow personal attacks AND don’t personalize remarks.  This can be very challenging as everyone’s first response to “personalize” the situation.  A key tool in any learning environment is successful and respectful interaction with learners (and the work / team environment too!!!).  When communicating (verbally, in writing, or face to face) and corresponding with learners (colleagues) about “heated moments” It is prudent to ‘depersonalize’ the communication /correspondence by not using “you” and “I” but referencing the “issue” and the “course of action or resolution”. 

For example if a student email states “You gave me a 69% on the last quiz and I don’t think it was fairly graded.”    A response might look something like this:  “Thank you for the email inquiry regarding performance on the LP 6 quiz.  In review of the quiz, questions 4, 5 and 9 were not thoroughly / accurately addressed.  Content focusing on the specific types of elder abuse; who are the most common perpetrators, and the four requirements for reporting elder abuse would have greatly improved performance on the quiz.”

It takes conscious thought and effort to develop this communication philosophy but take it from me ….. it most often does defuse the “heated moment” and directs attention to the issue at hand. 




One thought on “Food for Thought on Successful Communication and Conflict Resolution

  1. I agree — be objective – don’t personalize — focus on the content — as Steven Covey (7 Habits of Highly Effective People) would say — “seek not to be understood, but to understand.” And, avoid fallacies —- here are ten of them—–and there are many more of them.

    The word fallacy derives from two Latin words, fallax (deceptive) and fallere (to deceive). This is an important concept in human life because much of human thinking deceives itself while deceiving others. The human mind has no natural guide to the truth, nor does it naturally love the truth. What the human mind loves is itself, what serves it, what flatters it, what gives it what it wants, and what strikes down and destroys whatever threatens it.

    1. Dirty Trick #1: Accuse your opponent of doing what he or she is accusing you or worse. For example, “You say that I don’t love you! I think it is you who does not love me!”

    2. Dirty Trick # 2: Accuse the other of sliding down a slippery slope and that leads to disaster. For example, “Ok, maybe there is nothing wrong with a kiss, but remember where kissing leads and where that leads. Before you know if you will be the mother of an unwanted baby!”

    3. Dirty Trick #3: Appeal to authority/celibrity Most people are in awe of those with power, celebrity, or status. Cigarette companies once hired scientists who were prepared to say that there was no proof that cigarettes caused lung cancer – though they knew or should have known that the proof was there.

    4. Dirty Trick #4: Appeal to Experience. Skilled manipulators, con artists, and politicians often imply that they have “experience” to back them up, even when their experiences are limited or non-existent. Of course, they will sometimes come up against an opponent who has more experience than they do.

    5. Dirty Trick #5: Appeal to Fear. “Remember, these people are threatening our freedom, our way life, our homes, and our property.” The unprincipled manipulators know that people tend to react primitively when any of these fears are activated.

    6. Dirty Trick # 6: Appeal to Pity or sympathy. The student says, “You don’t understand how hard my life is. I have so much to do. It is very hard for me to get my homework done. I am not lucky like some students. Since my parents can’t afford to send me to college, I have to work 30 hours a week to pay my own way. When I come home from work, my roommate plays music until midnight so I can’t study. What am I supposed to do? Give me a break!”

    7. Dirty Trick #7: Appeal to Popular Passions. Manipulators who are masters of spin who stir up prejudices, hatred and irrational fears. They imply that they agree with the audience. They act as if they share their views. They work to convince the audience that their opponent doesn’t hold sacred the beliefs they hold sacred. “It is good to be back in my home city and with people I can really trust….”

    8. Dirty Trick #8: Appeal to tradition or Faith – “the tried and true.” This strategy is closely related to the previous one, but emphasizes what seems to have passed the test of time. People are often enslaved by the social customs and norms of their culture, as well as traditional beliefs. What is traditional seems right. “This is the way we have always done things.” They imply that their opponent will destroy these traditions and faith.

    9. Dirty Trick #9: Assume a Posture of Righteousness. People begin with the deep-seated belief that they (their nation, their religion, their motivation) are especially pure and ethical. “We hold the highest ideals of any country. We are good hearted.”

    10. Dirty Trick #10: Attack the person and not the argument – Ad Hominum. People find ways to personally attack the reasoned. Name-calling, mud slinging, often works. Or it might be said of him that he supports terrorism or is soft on crime. This strategy is sometimes called “poisoning the well.” It leads to the audience dismissing an opponent in a sweeping way, no matter what the opponent says in his or her defense.

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