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A way to talk

Good Group Tips

In principle, in order for people to avoid conflict there has to be a way for them to talk. When in tension with someone else in my group, rather than talk with them directly, it is easiest to assume a superior position and take steps to prove my righteousness. It is also relatively easy to propose changes to the system in which we both operate: new rules, new policies, new ways of doing things that I think will make the tension go away. But both of these approaches create conflict and/or burden for my group.

Sometimes the barrier to direct communication is of a mechanical nature such as language or physical proximity or connection. But most often the barrier is our own fear about having a hard conversation. We don’t trust ourselves to say the right things or react the right ways. We are afraid that in a one-on-one setting we will lose the battle we are trying to win.

Practical Tip: Don’t view tensions as battles to be won or lost but rather as shared problems to be solved in shared ways. Before doing anything else, seek first to find a way to talk with those who are part of the problem.

If there are mechanical barriers to talking, work to fix them. In today’s world, going to war because one party can’t physically communicate with another is no excuse. If there are personal emotional barriers in the way, work to fix them. You are part of the problem; have a talk with yourself. Creating conflict or requiring your group to consider systemic changes because of your own emotional issues is selfish and inefficient.

And if someone else proposes a way to talk with you about a shared problem, accept the opportunity. Always talk first. Find a way.

– Craig Freshley

Click here for one-page PDF of this Tip, a great way to print or share.

4 thoughts on “A way to talk

  1. I think one valuable step to take is building up to difficult conversations by establishing rapport. Start with safe topics. Listen. Maybe find areas of similarity. If you build a relationship someone will be less likely to reflexively put up a wall when you get to though topics.

  2. This one hit me at the right time, too. Always nice to hear that problems can be solved through talking. That’s much better than fighting or waiting until something happens, either making communication impossible or reconciliation unthinkable.

  3. What I like is that it is so tempting to be righteous and to try to decide a protocol that will prevent poor communication or in my case panicking and someone’s unilateral action re our board of directors. Thanks for the reminder to trust myself when I have an intent to clear things up with someone that the right words will come. It’s not easy but we must try or nothing can improve.

  4. This tip really fit for me today. I have been in the middle of “assuming a superior position and taking steps to prove my righteousness,” and it was very important for me to read right now.

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