Cooperative Communication: An Aid In Workplace Conflicts

Beth Miller |

One way of communicating that  improves relationships at work and life is often overlooked. Because employees aren’t taught the ideas of Cooperative Communication—the skill and ability of people to get along is not as great as it could be.

By developing your ability to communicate cooperatively, you can change the course of your relationships at work and home for the better.

Research and practice backs up Cooperative Communication (CC), and business people and mediators across the world use similar techniques. As a leader, increasing your employees’ knowledge of CC can aid in avoiding and resolving conflict.

Why people run into conflict

Tension is a part of life, and everyone does and says things that are likely to cause conflict. Oftentimes, we don’t do this intentionally. We simply aren’t aware of how our behavior and the ways we communicate cause problems for ourselves and those around us.

According to studies, only 5 to 10 percent of people understand Cooperative Communication inherently; the remainder need to be trained.

Cooperative Communication techniques you can use

These are some CC techniques you can use in your workplace to enhance your experience and to set an example for others. These seven tips come from the Communication Skills for Success at Home & Work, The Seven Challenges Workbook.

  1. Listen more carefully and responsively. Stop, listen and consider what the other person is saying before you respond.
  2. Explain your conversational intent and invite consent. Say, “I would like to talk to you about… When would be a good time for you?”
  3. Express yourself more clearly and completely. Use “I statements.”
  4. Translate your (and other people’s) complaints and criticisms into specific requests and explain your requests. Use specific, action-oriented language.
  5. Ask questions more open-endedly and creatively. Yes/no questions limit possibilities for our communications.
  6. Express more appreciation. Notice and recognize what works, what is beautiful, what is done well so that you can refocus your conversations in a more positive light.
  7. Make better communication an important part of your everyday life. Getting better at CC takes time and a lot of work; it won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.

Here a few more techniques you can use to reduce and resolve workplace conflicts.

  • When you encounter tension, calm yourself down by breathing slowly and deeply and think about a time of happiness and peace.
  • Think about what you really need…what are the longterm interests in the situation?
  • Seek out ways to find common ground with others. Put yourself in the shoes of other people.
  • Seek to be objective and flexible when communicating with others.
  • When talking, speak about yourself, not the other person.

Organizations who strive for excellent service—who have people who communicate consciously and willfully to gain cooperation—will perform better in business and enjoy better results.

As a leader, how can you incorporate cooperative communication into your leadership style?

Photo Credit: Flickr user stratfordcollege

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Beth Miller

Beth Miller

Beth Armknecht Miller’s passion for learning, and dedication to helping others, are strands woven throughout her distinguished career, which continue to guide her work with Executive Velocity, a top talent and leadership development advisory firm. As a trusted executive consultant, Vistage Chair, and committed volunteer, Beth holds herself to a rigorous standard of excellence, and she encourages her clients to do the same when pursuing their goals.

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