The skills that promote good communication and constructive resolution of conflict are, among others: selfdisclosure, explaining, active listening, perspective taking, reframing, and brainstorming. Tests of these skills, particularly active listening and perspective taking, show that is is helpful when at least one person in a conflict makes an attempt to listen fully and understand the point of the view of the other person.
When you self-disclose, you reveal to the listener some aspect of how you are feeling, especially that which you might have been trying to conceal. You also share with the listener what it is that you really need, without engaging in bargaining ploys to manipulate the listener.
When you explain, you provide the listener with information about aspects of the situation that you are most concerned about. Both selfdisclosure and explaining must be done without using language that is blaming or disrespectful of the other person.
3. Active listening
When you actively listen, you turn your full attention to the overall message of the speaker, as well as the details, rather than focusing on your own concerns or on counterarguments. You also provide feedback to the speaker in order to ensure that you understood the message. The feedback may involve paraphrasing what you think the speaker said, and asking questions to clarify. It should not include an evaluation of, or a counterargument to, what the other person said; rather, it should be an attempt to understand the other person’s needs and concerns as he/she sees them.
4. Perspective taking
Perspective taking is largely an internal process in which you try to understand how it might feel to be the other person in the situation. It is fostered by active listening. In other words, perspective taking is trying to understand the other person’s needs, concerns, difficulties, and pain in this situation. It is often referred to as “putting yourself in the other person’s shoes.” Perspective taking and active listening can help move the situation from an adversarial one in which your needs are pitted against the other person’s, to a collaborative one in which you are working with the other person to satisfy both sets of needs.
Reframing proceeds from active listening and involves moving further away from an adversarial ‘‘me against you’’ situation toward seeing the situation as a mutual problem to be solved collaboratively. It can be initiated by such statements as ‘‘what can we do so that you get what you need which is … and I get what I need which is...?’’
Brainstorming comes after active listening and reframing, and involves coming up with as many solutions as possible for the problem, without critiquing them at first, and then narrowing them down to come up with the solution or set of solutions that best fits everyone’s needs. Generating many solutions, quickly and without evaluation, can help with creativity, and lead to unexpected resolutions.