Conflict Resolution and Stylistic Differences

By King, Gerri | Nation's Cities Weekly, November 4, 2002 | Go to article overview

Conflict Resolution and Stylistic Differences


King, Gerri, Nation's Cities Weekly


Ongoing miscommunication or conflict is rarely about the issue; it's usually about how the issues being handled. So often we personalize something when the misunderstanding actually stems from stylistic differences.

Those differences should not be offered as excuses, only as explanations to why we experience conflict. If we truly understand other people's styles, as well as our own, we are less likely to take responses personally and more likely to project what we would be thinking in a less confrontational or argumentative tone.

Myths Associated With Miscommunication and Conflict include ...

Myth * Conflict is inherently negative. On the contrary. Without conflict we wouldn't get anywhere. We wouldn't be creative or inventive, make necessary changes or experience progress.

Myth * You can force people to change their values. Values are not changed by force. Behavior can possibly be changed by force, but only if the person cares about the consequences. If we want to change values, much more is required in the way of education, explanation, and listening.

Myth * Resolution styles are usually compatible. This would be nice if it was true, but it's wishful thinking. We assume other people express emotions like we do, which may not be the case. For instance, if we talk loudly when we're upset, we assume anyone else who talks loudly is also upset, even though they may not be. This reaffirms the necessity to understand stylistic differences.

Myth * We know our own body language intimately. As much as 65%-85% of our communication style may be in the form of body language. Given the fact that we have little understanding about the nature of our own body language, everyone you encounter visually knows more about your body language than you do. You may therefore be giving out messages that upset people unintentionally.

Myth * Little things are too petty to spend time addressing. Conflict about so-called "little things" usually means there is a conflict about much bigger things associated with it.

Myth * We have far too much to do to spend the time dealing with every issue and conflict that arises. The next time you ask if you have time to address an issue, ask also if you have time not to address it. Putting off a discussion builds resentment and may lead to far more dramatic and complex reactions. It's a matter of where and when you want to put the time into addressing the issue.

A Creative Communication & Conflict Resolution Process

* First, everyone needs to agree they want to find a mutually satisfactory resolution and to use a process and setting that's comfortable for all. …

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