Last week, our blog talked about avoiding conflict through appropriate communication and constructive feedback.
We can do a quick demonstration on constructive feedback we use with groups. The groups are divided into smaller groups, the number depends on the number of participants, and one individual in the group is given a picture that has different shapes on it in different configurations. We ask that person with the picture to describe it or provide instruction to the other group members so they can each draw it without seeing it. The catch is, those drawing can’t ask any questions. The only person who can talk is the person giving the instructions.
When everyone has completed their drawing, they are allowed to see the picture the instructor had to compare their drawing to it. Most of the time, they are very similar. The people providing instruction do an excellent job describing what they see and interpreting it to the others.
Those who are drawing do an excellent job of listening so they can draw what they are instructed.
What does all of this have to do with conflict and communication? One of the things this demonstrates is the need to slow down the communication process especially when the message is important. It requires the sender of the message to do some planning and thought as to how best to describe the instructions so the recipient of the message can interpret the instructions in a way the sender intended. By doing so, this helps to immediately remove any future conflict from occurring. It also requires both the sender and the recipient to concentrate on what is being said which also helps to avoid conflict in the future.
For the person giving the instruction or feedback, it may take more time but by planning a message that is clear, concise and easy for the person to interpret it may avoid more time being spent later in a conflict situation.
For the person who is receiving this message, it’s important to listen and pay attention to what is being said. In the exercise, the people doing the drawing couldn’t ask clarifying questions but in real life it is particularly important to ask clarifying questions so mistakes or misunderstandings can be avoided which can cause conflict. It also helps the sender to know the message was received correctly.
What also needs to be avoided are any distractions which can such as noise or interruptions. It reduces the concentration level for both the sender and the receiver. The sender can lose their pattern of thought and the receiver may not be able to truly listen to the message being sent which can also cause conflict later.
Again, the “you” messages identified in last week’s blog must be avoided. It’s very easy for either the sender or receiver to revert back to the old way of doing things.
With careful planning along with appropriate vocal tones, expressions and a general desire to help a person succeed, conflict can be avoided. This all takes some time which is usually the biggest hurdle to accomplish.
If you need practice, let us know and we will send you a drawing we use. All team members can benefit!
Don’t forget to watch our webinars on conflict management, too, for other ideas! Like us on Facebook too! We have many articles, videos, and puzzles that can help with workplace situations on our page.