3 Tips for Healthy Communication in Conflict

By Cassidy Camp on July 9, 2017

In any kind of relationship, whether it’s familial, platonic, or romantic, it can be difficult to get your point across to another person without starting an argument when it comes to conflict. Although communication is a two-way street, and both parties need to be able to engage in healthy communication, here are a few tips to kick off serious conversations in a healthy and respectful way.

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  1. Take a time-out. This is the most important element of healthy communication because it prevents you from spouting off angry or emotional things to the other person before thinking about them. Often times, our knee-jerk reaction to a situation changes over time, so the way that you’re feeling immediately may not be the way you’ll feel in ten minutes. Don’t force communication if you’re in a place of strong emotional responses or if you don’t want to talk about it at that moment. If someone asks you if you’re okay, it is a completely valid and healthy response to say, “Not really, but I don’t want to discuss it right now,” or “No, but I want to take some time to think before we talk about it.” Taking a time out gives you the freedom and space to determine your own feelings and think about how you’d like to address the issue. It can also prevent you from unintentionally hurting the other person, which becomes a new conflict in and of itself. Time-outs can be used at any time during communication as well. If you feel yourself start to become upset, it is fair to postpone a conversation until you’ve had a moment to calm down.
  2. Use “I” statements instead of “you” statements. This seems like a no-brainer that everyone has heard before, but it can be difficult to actually implement it in a time of stress. After taking a time-out, think about how you feel and why you feel that way, and phrase your feelings into an “I” statement. For example, rather than saying “you don’t ever do your chores when I ask you to, it’s so disrespectful,” you would say “I feel disrespected when I ask you to do your chores and you don’t.” This allows the other person to understand what you’re feeling and why you’re feeling that way without attacking them and putting them on the defensive. We’ve all had arguments where someone says to us “you never do this,” and your first reaction is to attack them back and point out something bad about them too. This is counter-productive and leads to an argument about who’s right rather than attempting to fix an issue, which brings me to our third tip.
  3. Stick to one topic at a time. It can be tempting when someone tells you that something you do is bothering them to rebut with something they do that bothers you. By doing so, however, you’re telling the other person that because they do something that bothers you, you won’t listen to their issue and work with them on it. This is unfair. The healthy way to approach this would be to take care of the issue brought up first, come to a compromise or solution through “I” statements, and once the issue is resolved, then it becomes okay to bring up a subsequent issue. This way, you are both able to work through all of the issues brought up without attacking or dismissing one another’s concerns.

Relationship troubles in any kind of relationship can be tricky, but healthy communication makes issues so much easier to sort through without all of the arguing and hurting each other’s feelings. Try to implement these things into your next serious conversation with someone and see how much better the conversation goes.

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Cassidy is a dual degree student at FSU in the Humanities and Editing, Writing, and Media majors. She is a bibliophile and bookworm, and you'll often see her walking to class with her nose between pages of a book. Music is an important part of Cassidy's life; she's a vocalist and a songwriter in her spare time. Cassidy aspires to attend a Master of Communication graduate program after graduating FSU and, once finished with school, strives to enter the Public Relations field professionally.

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