4 Steps to Communicate Without Conflict (Even When It’s Tough)

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Improving your communication skills won’t happen overnight, but happens with practice!

Topic Of Discussion

We’ve all had it happen – you get a little frustrated and all of a sudden you just blurted out something that wasn’t quite what you meant. It’s normal. Life gets busy, overwhelm happens, and no one is a perfect communicator all the time. Communicating without conflict can be hard. 

That said, mastering the art of non-violent communication might be key to saving those moments when you’re wishing for a do over…or a time machine! By knowing how to express your emotions respectfully, you may find yourself blurting less, saying more…and getting your needs met!  The NVC (Non-Violent Communication) Model is a great place to start. 

Try these steps:

1. Say what you observe/experience:

Think about what is happening to make you feel frustrated, then say it in a neutral, observational way.

  • When I see…”
  • When I hear…”

Fill in the blank. Is the way your mother-in-law is talking to your kids bugging you? Try: “When I hear you talking to the kids that way, I…” And then…

2. Say what you feel in relation to what you observe:

Now add a feeling to that sentence. Say, “I feel…” Not blurting becomes key here! Sure, maybe the way your spouse is loading the dishwasher is annoying you…but what’s actually happening underneath that annoyance? Are you tired because you’re having to do more hand-washing? Or worried that your grandmother’s vintage mug might get damaged if it’s not loaded a certain way? Getting specific helps with being heard and understood. 

3. Say what you need, value, or desire that causes those feelings:

Look for the reason why you’re feeling what you’re feeling, and explain. In some ways, this might be the simplest part of the conversation…you probably value that mug from your grandmother because it was your grandmother’s. Or, you care about how your kids are spoken to because you’re trying to raise them a certain way. State this need/desire/value, then…

4. Make a request:

The big moment is here! What would make the situation that started this conversation in the first place better? Invite a discussion by phrasing it as a question: “Would you be open to having a conversation about…?” Could you and your mother-in-law reach a compromise by making certain topics off limits? Or could you trade another chore with your spouse so you do the dishes instead? Or, if you need to, just simply state your request: “My request is that…”

Communication without conflict may likely breed…more communication and might require you to repeat this NVC Model a few times. But with patience, you might eventually arrive at an agreed upon, peaceful solution…with no need for a time machine to take back your blurt!

Wrapping it up

Improving your communication skills won’t happen overnight, but happens with practice! At Tri-Star Counseling, our therapists are here to help whether you’re looking for better communication tools or help with regulating your emotions to become a better communicator!

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