I was listening to a couple of people in a conflict the other day. As I listened, I noticed something so glaringly obvious that I had to make this month’s RESULTS about it.

As the two struggled to communicate, the conflict seemed to get more frustrating for both of them. It’s not like the conflict was about world peace or of solving homelessness. It was a simple matter. But it started getting bad for one reason and one reason alone: they were both spending the majority of their energy trying to get the other person to understand THEM.

In communication, relationships, conflict, sales, presentations, etc, if you spend the majority of your energy attempting to get others to understand YOU, you are destined for frustrating communication. These two were spending the majority of their energy working to get the other person to understand them. It could have been resolved quicker had they reversed that. But they didn’t ask me…can you believe it?

Here’s how to be more effective when you’re involved in conflict:

1. Shut up and listen with no thought of what you will say in response.
2. Assume they intend no harm or hostility.
3. Ask good clarifying questions: ‘Help me understand’…‘So are you saying…?’
4. Validate their perceptions as real to them. ‘I can see how you might have heard that’ or ‘I get that’. Something that lets them know you get it.
5. Eliminate ‘buts’ because buts invalidate.
6. Finally, apologize if necessary and then present your point.