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WHAT IS INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION?

Interpersonal communication is the


process by which people exchange
information, feelings, and meaning
through verbal and nonverbal messages:
it is face-to-face communication.
Interpersonal communication is not just
about what is actually said but how it is
said and the nonverbal messages sent
through tone of voice, facial expressions,
gestures and body language.

Interpersonal skills are the life skills we use every day to communicate and
interact with other people, both individually and in groups. People who have
worked on developing strong interpersonal skills are usually more successful in
both their professional and personal lives.

Interpersonal skills become so natural that we may take them for granted, never
thinking about how we communicate with other people. With a little time and
effort you can develop these skills. Good interpersonal skills can improve many
aspects of your life - professionally and socially - they lead to better
understanding and relationships.

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Have you ever thought about why you communicate? Psychologist William
Schutz (1966) developed interpersonal needs theory, which asserts that our
tendency to create and sustain relationships depends on how well they meet
three basic needs.

NEED #1 NEED #2 NEED #3


For Affection For Inclusion For Control

Expanding on Schutz’s ideas, Abraham Maslow (1968) proposed that we


communicate to meet a range of human needs. According to Maslow, basic
needs must be satisfied before we can focus on those that are more abstract.

Self
Actualization
Needs
Self-Esteem
Needs
(Respect)
Belonging Needs
(Inclusion, Fun)

Safety and Protection Needs


(Shelter)

Physical Needs for Survival


(Air and Food)

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

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Physical Needs
At the most basic level, humans need to survive, and communication
helps us meet this need. To survive, babies must alert others when they
are hungry or in pain. As we grow older, we discuss medical problems
with doctors to stay healthy and our effectiveness in communicating
affects what jobs we get and how much we earn to pay for medical care,
food, leisure activities, and housing.

Safety Needs
We also meet safety needs through communication. We may go online to
research symptoms we have, or to learn about medical conditions that our
friends or family members have developed. Communication also helps
protect us from dangers and harm. When foods are determined to be
unsafe, news media inform the public.

Belonging Needs
All of us need others in order to enjoy life, to feel comfortable at work, and
to fit into social groups. We want others’ company, acceptance, and
affirmation, and we want to give acceptance and affirmation to others.
Belonging is also important in our careers.

Self-Esteem Needs
These involve valuing and respecting ourselves and being valued and
respected by others. We gain our first sense of self from others who
communicate how they see us. This process continues throughout life as
we see ourselves reflected in others’ eyes.

Self-Actualization Needs
The most abstract human need is self-actualization. It is defined as fully
developing and using our unique “talents, capacities, and potentialities.”
To achieve this, we need to refine that we have already developed to
some degree, while we also cultivate new potentials in ourselves. We also
thrive on growth. Communication fosters our personal growth.

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INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATI0N MODEL

Transactional Model
Social Systems
The transactional model of interpersonal
communication emphasizes the dynamism of
interpersonal communication and the multiple
roles people assume during the process. In
addition, this model includes the feature of time to
call our attention to the fact that messages, noise,
and fields of experience vary over time. The
transactional model recognizes that noise is
present throughout interpersonal communication.

Each communicator’s field of experience, and the shared field of experience between
communicators changes over time. The transactional model also makes it clear that
communication occurs within systems that affect what and how people communicate
and what meanings are created. Those systems, or context, include the shared
systems of both communicators and the personal systems of each person. Finally, it
should be emphasized that the transactional model doesn’t label one person a sender
and the other a receiver. Instead, both people are defined as communicators who
participate equally and often simultaneously in the communication process. Because
communicators affect each other (Rothwell, 2004), interpersonal communication
involves ethical responsibilities.

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FEATURES OF INTERPERSONAL
COMMUNICATION

We can define interpersonal communication as selective, systemic, individual,


processual transactions that allow people to reflect and build personal knowledge
of one another and create shared meanings.

Selective
We don’t want to communicate intimately with the majority of people we
encounter. We invest the effort and take the risks of opening ourselves fully
with only a few people.
Systemic
Interpersonal communication is also systemic, which means that it takes place
within various systems. As the transactional model notes, communication
occurs in contexts that influence events and the meanings we attribute. The
ways people communicate also vary across cultures.
Individual
The deepest level of interpersonal communication involves engaging others as
individuals who are unlike anyone else. We treat others, and are treated by
them as individuals. This is possible only if we learn who they are and if they, in
turn, come to understand us as distinct individuals. As trust builds, people
disclose personal information that allows insight into their unique selves.
Processual
Interpersonal communication is an ongoing, continuous process. This means,
first, that communication evolves over time, becoming more personal as people
interact. Friendships and romantic relationships gain depth and significance
over the course of time, and they may also decline in quality over time.

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Transactional
Interpersonal communication is a process of transaction between people, as
you speak to a friend, your friend smiles; as your supervisor explains an idea,
you nod to show you understand; as your parent scolds you, you wrinkle your
brow resentfully.
Personal Knowledge
Interpersonal communication fosters personal knowledge and insights. To
connect as unique individuals, we have to get to know others personally and
understand their thoughts and feelings.
Meaning Creating
The heart of interpersonal communication is shared meanings between people.
We don’t merely exchange words when we communicate. Instead we create
meanings as we figure out what each other’s words and behaviors stand for,
represent, or imply.

Interpersonal communication involves two levels of meaning:

1. Content Meaning

2. Relationship Meaning

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Scholars have identified three general dimensions of relationship-level meanings.

Responsiveness
The first dimension is responsiveness and it refers to
how aware we are of others and how involved we are
with them.

Affection
A second dimension of relationship meaning is liking
or affection. This concerns the degree of positive or
negative feeling that is communicated. Although
liking may seem similar with responsiveness, the two
are clearly different.

Power
The third dimension of relationship meaning is power
or control. Friends and romantic partners sometimes
engage in covert power struggles on the relationship
level.

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PRINCIPLES OF INTERPERSONAL
COMMUNICATION

There are five basic principles for effectiveness:

#1 We Cannot Not Communicate

#2 Interpersonal Communication is Irreversible

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#3 People Construct Meanings in Interpersonal
Communication

#4 Interpersonal Communication Develops


and Sustains Relationships

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#5 Interpersonal Communication Effectiveness
Can Be Learned

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IMPROVING INTERPERSONAL SKILLS

Sometimes we handle interactions well, and other times we don’t. What are the
differences between effective and ineffective communication? Effectiveness
involves achieving goals for specific interactions. The more effectively you
communicate, the more likely you are to be competent in achieving your goals.
Competence also emphasizes appropriateness. This means you must adapt
competent communication to particular situations and people. Below are five
useful interpersonal skills.

Develop a Range of Skills

Adapt Communication Appropriately

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Engage in Dual Perspective

Monitor Your Communication

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PRINCIPLES OF VERBAL COMMUNICATION

Language is arbitrary and ambiguous, and words are abstract representations of


other phenomena. Because language is arbitrary, the meaning of words can
change over time. This means that language is dynamic.

The arbitrary quality of language also allows us to make up special words or to


attach unconventional meanings to words. Most groups have some in-group
terms that are understood only by its members. People who work together tend
to share specialized vocabulary that aren’t understood by outsiders.

The Meanings of Because symbols are abstract, ambiguous, and


Language Are arbitrary, the meanings of words are never self-
evident or absolute. Words are layered with
Subjective
meanings.
Verbal communication is patterned by unspoken but
broadly understood rules. They are communication
rules, which are shared understandings of what
Language Use Is
communication means and what kinds of
Guided by Rules communication are appropriate in particular
situations.
Two kinds of rules govern communication:

In writing, we use commas, periods and semicolons


Punctuation to define where ideas stop and start and where
pauses are needed. To punctuate communication,
Shapes Meaning
we define when interaction begins and who starts it.
When we don’t agree on punctuation, problems may
arise.

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COMMUNICATION BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN

Men and women differ psychologically in the way they act, from the
style in which they communicate to the way in which they attempt to influence
others. Research on women’s and men’s communication reveals that the
communication rules learned in childhood play are carried forward into our adult
interactions.

How Do Women Communicate How Do Men Communicate

Women’s talk is generally more Men’s talk tends to be more


expressive and focused on feelings instrumental and competitive.
and personal issues.
Women regard talk as an essential Activities tend to be the primary
foundation for intimacy. foundation of close friendships. Men
Communicating is the essence of typically cement friendships by doing
building and sustaining closeness. things together and for one another.

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IMPROVING VERBAL COMMUNICATION

Below are guidelines for improving effectiveness in verbal communication.

Use Dual Perspective Approach

Be Responsible for Your Own


Feelings and Thoughts

Respect What Others Say about


Their Feelings

Strive for Accuracy and Clarity

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NONVERBAL COMMUNICATION

Nonverbal communication is all aspects of communication other than words.


Additionally, the tone of voice, pauses, volume and the pitch of the voice all add
to the words that are being used. They affect the meaning of the words.

It is important to recognize that nonverbal communication may vary between


individuals, and between different cultures and nationalities. These non-verbal
signals can give clues and additional information and meaning to spoken (verbal)
communication. It is therefore essential to verify and confirm that the signals you
are reading by checking with the individual and getting to know the person.

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Nonverbal messages allow people to:

Reinforce or modify what is said.

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TYPES OF NONVERBAL COMMUNICATION
Kinesics refers to body position and body motions, including facial
expressions. Body movements can be used to reinforce or emphasize what a
person is saying and also offer information about the emotions and attitudes of a
person. However, it is also possible for body movements to conflict with what is
said.
Posture can reflect people's emotions,
attitudes and intentions. Research has
identified a wide range of postural signals
and their meanings:

 Open and Closed Postures


 Mirroring

Our faces are intricate messengers.


Facial motions may be used to signal
whether we are open to interaction.

Our eyes communicate some of the most


important and complex messages about
how we feel about others. In interpersonal
interaction, eye contact serves three main
purposes:

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Paralanguage relates to all aspects of
the voice which are not strictly part of the
verbal message, including the tone and
pitch of the voice, the speed and volume of
the message delivered, and pauses and
hesitations between words. Paralanguage
also includes accents and pronunciation.

We use silence to communicate to


communicate different meanings. Silence
can be a concern when you said “hello” to
someone and gotten no reply.

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Positive and Negative Body Language

Positive body language Negative body language

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TOP NINE NONVERBAL COMMUNICATION TIPS

Good communication skills can help you in both your personal and professional
life. While verbal and written communication skills are important, research has
shown that nonverbal behaviors make up a large percentage of our daily
interpersonal communication. How can you improve your nonverbal
communication skills?

The following top nine tips for nonverbal communication can help you learn to
read the nonverbal signals of other people and enhance your own ability to
communicate effectively.

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1
Pay attention to
nonverbal signals

2
Look for
incongruent
behavior

3
Concentrate on
your tone when
speaking

4
Use good eye
contact

5
Ask questions
about nonverbal
signals

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6
Use signals to make
communication
more effective and
meaningful

7
Consider context

8
Be aware of
misread signals

9
Practice, practice,
practice

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EFFECTIVE LISTENING

Although listening and hearing are often used as if they were synonyms, actually
they are different. Hearing refers to the sounds that you hear whereas listening is
a combination of hearing what another person says and psychological
involvement with the person who is talking. Listening is far more complex than
hearing. It requires a desire to understand another human being, an attitude of
respect and acceptance, and a willingness to open one's mind to try and see
things from another's point of view.

Listening requires more than hearing words. In addition to physically receiving


messages, we have to interpret, remember, and respond to what others
communicate.

Listening is key to all effective communication. Without the ability to listen


effectively, messages are easily misunderstood – communication breaks down
and the sender of the message can easily become frustrated or irritated.

Listening is so important that many top employers provide listening skills training
for their employees. This is not surprising when you consider that good listening
skills can lead to:

 better customer satisfaction.


 greater productivity with fewer mistakes.
 increased information sharing which can lead to more creative and
innovative work.

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THE LISTENING PROCESS
Listening is an active process, which means we must exert effort to listen well.
We must be involved with our ears, hearts and minds if we want to listen
effectively.

Being Mindful
Mindfulness is a choice. It is not a talent
that some people have and others don’t.
No amount of skill will make you a good
listener if you don’t make a commitment to
attend to another person fully and without
diversion. Therefore, effective listening
begins with the choice to be mindful.

We don’t perceive everything Selecting and Organizing Material


around us. Instead, we selectively
attend to some messages and
elements of our environments.
Selective listening depends on
factors such as interests,
expectations and culture. We try
to understand not just content, but
also the person speaking.

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Interpreting Communication We have to engage in dual perspective
in listening to understand the person’s
perspectives. Engaging in dual
perspective doesn’t require you to agree
with others’ perspectives; however, it
requires you to make a serious effort to
understand them.

Effective listening also involves Responding


responding, which is communicating
attention and interest. Skillful
listeners show that they are
following and interested. We all tend
to communicate more clearly and
interestingly when we feel that
others are committed to our
communication.
Remembering This is the process of retaining what you
have heard. Effective listeners let go of
a lot of details to retain the more
important content. By being selective
about what to remember, we enhance
our listening competence.

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BARRIERS TO EFFECTIVE LISTENING

Many barriers to effective listening exist in communication situations. There


are two broad types of barriers to effective listening:
 barriers in the communication situation
 barriers in the communicator
Even though we can’t always control external barriers, knowing what
situational factors hinder effective listening can help us be aware and guard
against them or compensate for the noise they create.

Message Overload

Message Complexity
External
Barriers
Noise

Situational

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Preoccupation

Predjustment
Internal
Barriers
Lack of effort

Failure to Adapt Listening


Styles

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PRINCIPLES OF EFFECTIVE LISTENING

A good listener will listen not only to what is being said, but also to what is left
unsaid or only partially said. Effective listening involves observing body language
and noticing inconsistencies between verbal and non-verbal messages.

Stop talking

Prepare

Put

Remove

Empathize

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Be

Avoid

Listen

Listen

Read

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BUILDING INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS

The Art of Tact and Diplomacy


Tact and diplomacy are methods used to aid effective communication, especially
during negotiation and when attempting to be persuasive or assertive.

Using tact and diplomacy appropriately can lead to improved relationships with
other people and are a way to build and develop mutual respect, which in turn
can lead to more successful outcomes and less difficult or stressful
communications.

Tact and diplomacy are skills centered around an understanding of other people
and being sensitive to their opinions, beliefs, ideas and feelings.

Effective use of such skills comes from being able to sense accurately what
another person is feeling or thinking at any given time and then responding in
such a way as to avoid bad feelings or awkwardness, whilst at the same time
asserting or reflecting your own ideas and feelings back in a delicate and well-
meaning fashion.

All people and all communication situations are unique. Developing effective tact
and diplomacy skills requires practice and good judgment. These skills are not
limited to use in formal communications, such as in the workplace: tact and
diplomacy are also important when developing and maintaining friendships,
romantic relationships and relationships in the family.

Defining Tact and Diplomacy:

- Isaac Newton

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Prerequisites for Successful Tact and Diplomacy
As well as a level of common sense, good judgment and practice in various
situations, the effective use of tact and diplomacy relies on some other key skills,
namely:

Attentive listening

Emotional
intelligence
Showing empathy

Assertiveness

Rapport

Politeness

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Strategies for Tact and Diplomacy
Understanding what is the most appropriate behavior and in any given situation
can be problematic; this is due to the unpredictable nature of communication and
of human relations generally.

Sometimes the most appropriate action may be to withhold your opinion, or it


may be possible to introduce an idea, or favored outcome, in such a way that the
other person can take ownership of it. In other situations it may be best to take a
direct stance, stating exactly what you want and how you intend to achieve it.

We all know people who are capable of talking their way out of difficult situations
or who are more likely to be successful at negotiating. Although a certain
amount of luck may be attributed to isolated incidents, long-term success is
based on strong communication skills, planning, self-control, confidence and
emotional intelligence.

The following strategies are designed to help you think about how you can plan
for and use tact and diplomacy effectively:

 When you’re planning a potentially difficult conversation you should first


focus on knowing what you want to achieve: what is your favored
outcome? Write it down and think about your reasons. Try to take a step
back from your personal opinions and think about the facts surrounding
the situation.

 Consider and write down what the objections might be from others. Think
carefully about your answers to their concerns; demonstrate that you have
considered their opinions or arguments.

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 Do not enter into negotiations in an angry or stressed way. Try to remain
calm and keep an open mind. Find out the facts, as well as what is and
what is not possible before you react.

 When communicating, listen to what the other person (or people) has to
say. Watch for non-verbal communication, such as body language, and
their tone of voice to help you understand. Hold back your own opinions
and ideas until you have had chance to understand the other persons
point-of-view, and then plan your responses carefully to fit with the
feedback you are receiving.

 Negotiate. If what you seek is in conflict with the other person’s ideas, you
may have to discuss how sacrifices can be made to provide a better result
for both of you in the long run. Mutual sacrifice is usually seen more
favorably than one-sided sacrifice. Aim to reach a compromise which
results in a win-win situation.

 Strengthen your argument by offering time-scales of when you foresee the


benefit of your proposals being reached. Be precise in giving figures and
dates. Favor logic and fact over personal opinion. Have something written
or drawn out in advance, if it helps.

 If possible turn statements into questions. Rather than directly voicing your
opinion, turn your statement into a question for the other person to think
about. This not only leads somebody to think along the same lines as you
but also makes room for discussion of what interests you and what may
potentially benefit both parties. This is particularly useful if you are not
entirely sure what you are able to achieve or exactly what is needed to
overcome a problem. This strategy often allows for more exploration of
options – a more open approach than just stating your opinion.

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 If the conversation gets heated, try to give yourself room to respond in
ways that help rather than inflame a situation. If you can, catch yourself at
the moment your gut reaction wants to take over: take a breath and give
yourself time. Tell the other person that you need to think about what they
just said, rather than feel obliged to answer immediately. Take control of a
situation rather than becoming out of control and risk saying or doing
something you may later regret. Taking control of social situations in a
way that leaves both parties feeling comfortable with the outcome is an
important part of showing tact and diplomacy.

Always strive for a win-win outcome, that way you will increase your chance of
negotiating problematic situations successfully while all parties can feel happier
about any compromises made during the process. For some, this comes easier
than for others. As with any set of skills, tact and diplomacy can be learnt
through the practice and experience of weighing up and balancing different
people’s positions.

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HOW TO BE POLITE

Being polite means being aware of and respecting the feelings of other
people. We may not always notice politeness but we usually notice rudeness or
inconsiderate behavior.

This page takes a step back and covers some of the fundamentals of building
and maintaining relationships with others. We provide examples of the most
common behaviors that are considered polite.

Politeness can and will improve your relationships with others, help to build
respect and rapport, boost your self-esteem and confidence, and improve your
communication skills.

Many of the points raised on this page may seem obvious (in most cases they
are common-sense) but all too often social manners are overlooked or
forgotten. Take some time to read through the following points and think about
how being polite and demonstrating good social etiquette can improve your
relationships with others.

It is easy to recognize when people are rude or inconsiderate but often more
difficult to recognize these traits in yourself. Think carefully about the impressions
you leave on others and how you can easily avoid being considered ill-mannered
or ignorant.

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Politeness Guidelines
You can apply the following (where appropriate) to most interactions with others
– friends, colleagues, family, customers, everybody! Always use common sense
and try to behave as appropriately as possible, taking into account any cultural
differences.

Say Hello to People


Greet people appropriately, gain eye contact and smile naturally, shake hands
or hug where appropriate but say hello, especially to colleagues and other
people you see every day. Be approachable. Do not blank people just because
you’re having a bad day.

Take Time to Make Some Small Talk


Perhaps mention the weather or ask about the other person’s family or talk
about something that is in the news. Make an effort to engage in light
conversation, show some interest, but don’t overdo it. Remain friendly and
positive and pick up on the verbal and non-verbal signals from the other person.

Always Use ‘Please’ and ‘Thank You’


Make sure you thank people for their input or contribution and always include
‘please’ when asking for something. If somebody offers you something, use 'Yes
please' or 'No thank you'.

Praise and/or Congratulate

At Work Be Polite and Helpful

Use Appropriate Language

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Learn to Listen Attentively

Respect other People's Time

Apologize for Your Mistakes

Respect

Use Humor Carefully

Be Punctual

Good manners cost nothing but can make a big difference to how other people
feel about you, or the organization you are representing. When you’re polite and
show good manners others are more likely to be polite and courteous in return.

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MANAGING CONFLICT

A conflict is more than just a disagreement. It


is a situation in which one or both parties
perceive a threat (whether or not the threat is
real). Conflict is a normal and necessary part
of healthy relationships. After all, two people
can’t be expected to agree on everything at all
times. Therefore, learning how to deal with
conflict—rather than avoiding it—is crucial.

When conflict is mismanaged, it can harm the relationship. But when handled in
a respectful and positive way, conflict provides an opportunity for growth,
ultimately strengthening the bond between two people. By learning the skills you
need for successful conflict resolution, you can face disagreements with
confidence and keep your personal and professional relationships strong and
growing.

Understanding Conflicts in Relationship


Conflicts continue to fester when
ignored.

We respond to conflicts based on


our perceptions.

Conflicts trigger strong emotions.

Conflicts are an opportunity for


growth.

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ORIENTATIONS TO CONFLICT
There are three basic orientations that affect how we approach conflict situations.
Each way of approaching conflict is appropriate in some relationships and
situations; the challenge is to know when a particular approach is constructive.

Lose-Lose Lose-lose orientations assume that conflict


results in losses for everyone and that it is
unhealthy and destructive for relationships.

Win-Lose Win-lose orientations assume that one person


wins at the expense of the other. A person who
sees conflict as a win-lose matter thinks that
disagreements battles that can have only one
victor.

Win-Win Win-win orientations assume that there are


usually ways to resolve differences so that
everyone gains. A good solution is one that
everyone finds satisfactory.

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RESPONSES TO CONFLICT

Our approach to conflict shapes how we respond when conflict occurs.


Responses to conflict can be either active or passive, depending on how overtly
they are address problems. Responses can also be constructive or destructive in
their capacity to resolve tension and to preserve relationship.

There are four kinds of responses:


The Exit Response

The Neglect Response

Exit Neglect

The Loyalty Response


Loyalty Voice

The Voice Response

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COMMUNICATION PATTERNS DURING CONFLICT

Communication skills shape the process and outcomes of conflict. Therefore, we


want to understand specific kinds of communication that foster or impede
effective conflict.

Unproductive Conflict Constructive Conflict


Communication Communication
Ineffective communication can Constructive communication
hurt individuals, damage during conflict creates a
relationships and undermine the supportive, positive climate that
possibility of resolving increases the possibility of
problems. Unproductive resolving differences without
communication patterns in harming the relationship.
managing conflict reflect a
preoccupation with oneself and
a disregard for the other.

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3 Stages of Unproductive Conflict Management

Middle Stages

Early Stages Later Stages

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3 Stages of Constructive Conflict Management

Middle Stages

Early Stages Later Stages

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CONFLICT MANAGEMENT SKILLS

With most conflicts, it’s important to find a resolution. This seems like a statement
of the obvious, but many people suppress their anger or just ‘go along to get
along.' They think that by addressing a conflict, they are creating one, and simply
keep quiet when upset. Unfortunately, this isn’t a healthy long-term strategy. For
one thing, unresolved conflict can lead to resentment and additional unresolved
conflict in the relationship. Even more important, ongoing conflict can actually
have a negative impact on your health and longevity.

 In personal relationships, a lack of understanding about differing needs


can result in distance, arguments, and break-ups.

 In workplace conflicts, differing needs are often at the heart of bitter


disputes.

We've all seen situations where different people with different goals and needs
have come into conflict. And we've all seen the often-intense personal animosity
that can result. The fact that conflict exists, however, is not necessarily a bad
thing. As long as it is resolved effectively, it can lead to personal and professional
growth. In many cases, effective conflict resolution can make the difference
between positive and negative outcomes.

It is important to acknowledge that both parties’ needs, play important roles in the
long-term success of most relationships, and each deserves respect and
consideration. When you can recognize the legitimacy of conflicting needs and
become willing to examine them in an environment of compassionate
understanding, it opens pathways to creative problem solving, team building and
improved relationships.

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The good news is that by resolving conflict successfully, you can solve many of
the problems that it has brought to the surface, as well as getting benefits that
you might not at first expect. The benefits include:

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However, if conflict is not handled effectively, the results can be damaging.
Conflicting goals can quickly turn into personal dislike. Teamwork breaks down.
Talent is wasted as people disengage from their work. And it's easy to end up in
a vicious downward spiral of negativity and recrimination.

Unfortunately, resolving conflict can be tricky as well. Handled improperly,


attempts at conflict resolution can actually make the conflict worse. Ideally you
can adopt an approach that meets the situation, resolves the problem, respects
people's legitimate interests, and mends damaged working relationships.

Understanding the Theory: The "Interest-Based Relational


Approach"
This theory is commonly referred to as the "Interest-Based Relational (IBR)
Approach". This type of conflict resolution respects individual differences while
helping people avoid becoming too entrenched in a fixed position. By following
these rules, you can often keep contentious discussions positive and constructive.
This helps to prevent the antagonism and dislike which so-often causes conflict
to spin out of control.
In resolving conflict using this approach, you can follow these rules:

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Using the Tool: A Conflict Resolution Process
Based on this approach, a starting point for dealing with conflict is to identify the
overriding conflict style employed by yourself, your team or your organization.
Look at the circumstances, and think about the style that may be appropriate.
Here are some guidelines to make conflict resolution simpler and less stressful.

Get in Touch with Your Feelings

An important component of conflict resolution involves only you -- knowing how


you feel and why you feel that way. It may seem you’re your feelings should
already be obvious to you, but this isn’t always the case.

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Hone Your Listening Skills

When it comes to effective conflict resolution, how effectively we listen is at least


as important as how effectively we express ourselves. It’s vital to understand the
other person’s perspective, rather than just our own, if we are to come to a
resolution. In fact, just helping the other person feel heard and understood can
sometimes go a long way toward the resolution of a conflict.

Practice Assertive Communication

Communicating your feelings and needs clearly is also an important aspect of


conflict resolution. As you probably know, saying the wrong thing can be like
throwing fuel on a fire, and make a conflict worse. The important thing to
remember is to say what’s on your mind in a way that is clear and assertive,
without being aggressive or putting the other person on the defensive.

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Seek A Solution

Once you understand the other person’s perspective, and they understand yours,
it’s time to find a resolution to the conflict -- a solution you both can live with.
Sometimes a simple and obvious answer comes up once both parties
understand the other person’s perspective. In cases where the conflict was
based on a misunderstanding or a lack of insight to the other’s point of view, a
simple apology can work wonders, and an open discussion can bring people
closer together. Other times, there is a little more work required.

Know When It’s Not Working

Sometimes it’s advisable to put some distance in the relationship, or cut ties
completely because of the toll that ongoing conflict can exact from a person.
In cases of abuse, for example, simple conflict resolution techniques can only
take you so far, and personal safety needs to take priority.

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