Communication Styles And Conflict

Take two individuals; one a European with a substantial and impressive CV that takes in degrees in law and politics, motherhood and a return to work in a high level corporate role. The other a younger person with his own substantial CV, including a degree in economics and a work history taking in Asia, Europe and America.

The two get along well enough; not best friends forever, but no enmity either.

However, there is conflict.

One speaks in short, staccato sentences, and seems to spend her time issuing edicts and commands; the other speaks in long, rambling monologues peppered with lyrical hyperbole.

For both, working together has become a painful and difficult experience, so they try to avoid contact as much as possible, but their roles mean that they often have to collaborate on projects and tasks.

Eventually, their line manager recognises that there are 'issues' at play, and decides she must take action to avoid any meltdown that might mean she loses one or other of her valued staff.

How does this situation get resolved?

What can their manager do to bridge the gap between the two?

There are so many possible answers to choose from that deciding on a single course of action can be a challenge in itself, but clearly (when all the information is visible) the problem is one of communication, and specifically a mismatch in the style of communication ( and therefore one could argue the style of thinking) between them.

The single biggest obstacle to a successful resolution here is that these people are too close to the matter to be able to recognise that their respective speech patterns are at odds, and creating an uncomfortable situation.

A possible step towards a solution would be for one or both of the individuals to be shown the differences in how each one speaks. This opens up a conscious channel of recognition and this in turn offers a chance to adapt the speech patterns to more closely reflect those of the other party. If both are involved in seeking a resolution, then they need only each go a short way towards them other in style terms for them both to become more able to communicate more effectively with each other.

Speech reflects thinking and behaviour patterns much more closely than we consciously allow for, so a closer examination of how someone speaks may indicate why a situation such as the hypothetical one above might arise.

Consider that fact when you next find yourself in dispute or observe others who are apparently in conflict.

If you are looking to change the way you, or your people communicate to make them perform better then please contact us.


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