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Poor communication creates conflict!

Poor communication is the major cause of conflict in any relationship such as family, romantic, coparenting, or working relationship.

Some may think conflict is only caused by verbal aggressive communication but there are many forms of communication that cause conflict. They include –

Non-verbal communication – rolling your eyes, scowling, or folding your arms defensively as you may not agree with what someone is saying. You may feel you don’t have a voice to speak up about how you are feeling or don’t care about the other person’s opinion. This can also provoke the other party further as they feel it is disrespectful. Conflict escalates. Instead, calmly say how they make you feel and offer another approach to a problem or situation.

Lack of communication – not telling someone about information they need to be aware of. This could be someone knowing there is a train strike but not telling someone who is about to leave to go to the train station to catch a train. It could be a coparent not telling the other parent that their child had to go to hospital as they were sick. It could be a work colleague not letting the team know the deadline has been brought forward. This can make the other person feel annoyed that were not considered. Conflict escalates. Instead, calmly request the other person let’s you know about important information next time, so you have a choice on action to take.

Passive aggressive communication – a calm snide remark about someone or their action. You may feel niggled by what someone says and instead of calmly saying you disagree either in fear of conflict or reprisals, you choose to make a passive aggressive comment to show your discontent with what they are saying or doing. Your partner may say they are going to the pub on Friday with their mates. You may make a comment like “I’ll just stay home by myself then, again!”. Conflict escalates. Instead say “I hoped we could go out to dinner with our friends on Friday night”, this will open up conversation to consider this for Saturday night or the following Friday night.

Over communicating – constantly talking, asking questions, or texting someone. You can become irritated by someone over communicating as it is seen as unnecessary, annoying or being goaded into an argument. The person over communicating is anxious seeking information they feel they must have at that very moment. Conflict escalates. Instead, provide information about the topic; what, how, why, and then advise when you will be free to discuss further if need be.

Aggressive communication – raised voice, criticising, or blaming someone. This type of communication may be responded to with a counterattack, shutting down or fleeing in fear of their safety. Conflict escalates with a counterattack. Instead, don’t react as it is best not to fuel their aggression. Advise that you are happy to discuss further when you are both calm and can speak respectfully to each other. This sets the boundary that you won’t accept aggressive communication.

All these forms of communication can create conflict that escalates, causing damage to a relationship.

How you communicate to others can be perceived as the reflection of the type of person you are, whether you have empathy, kindness, or tolerance. Communication though is learned, practiced and embedded into how you handle different situations. Conflict not only impacts your mental health but also impacts how your children, your family or your work colleagues see you!

The key to healthy communication is being able to say how you feel and keep it respectful.

If you feel the warning signs of anger bubbling up inside you causing your body to have a physical reaction such as quickened breath, sweaty palms, shaking, stomach churning, or gritting your teeth. It means it is time to extract yourself before you lose your cool.

Learning Anger management techniques and strategies in an Anger Management course will help you manage all difficult conversations in life. We can’t always escape difficult conversations, we need to learn how to have them with calm, confidence and courage, ensuring that conversations are respectful to avoid escalation.

Author – Cheryl Duffy, Divorce Coach, Mediator & Author

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