Communication in conflict situations

In conflict situations you should communicate your concern in a defensive manner. This should be done by using statements describing what you want or feel. Conversely you should not use statements which request something from others.

For example you say something like: “You should do… ”. So you request the other person to do what you want. Of course in normal conversations this is also not a good practice, but if you have a conflict situation such an offensive request will make a difficult situation even worse.

What could you say instead? Let’s look at the following option: “I think we should do… ”. In this case you start you statement with “I” and you try to formulate your whish, but as you continue with “… we should…” you will also ask for something from the others. Therefore, this second statement has the same unfavorable effect like the first one.

If you want to soften the conflict situation you have to use a message which will only contain a statement about yourself. Following I want to show you three levels of such a message. You may communicate you wish by using these three levels.

  • At first: Describe your perception
  • Second: Describe the effects on yourself
  • Third: Describe you own request


Let me explain the three levels by showing a common situation. In meetings you may get lost quickly and cannot describe your own opinion adequately. In this case you could proceed as follows.

  • At first: Describe your perception: “So far, I could not describe my opinion, because the detailed discussions started immediately.”
  • Second: Describe the effects on yourself: “By this abrupt change of the topic I could not properly follow the discussion.”
  • Third: Describe you own request: “I would appreciate it if you give me a few minutes, so I can show you my opinion and thoughts.”
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