Communication and conflict resolution

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Exercise - Communication and interpretation

This is an individual group practice. All participants need a piece of copy paper.

The group leader says:

We will fold the paper together after my instructions. So that you don't see how the other folks folds the paper, close your eyes and keep them closed during the entire exercise. Do not talk.

  • Here we go
  • Fold paper in half.
  • Fold paper in the middle again.
  • Tear off the upper right corner.
  • Fold the paper again.
  • Fold it the other way.
  • Tear off the top corners.
  • Open your eyes and unfold the paper.

Go through all the paper and see if anyone has the same pattern. If the group is large, they can compare with just their neighbors.

Open questions:

  • Was there anyone who thought the instructions were difficult?
  • Why were the patterns in the papers so different with the same instructions?
  • How could I instruct you in such a way that everyone got the same paper pattern?
  • How would you you tell me something so I know it's not misinterpreted?


If you give the exact same information to different people, they will interpret it differently. It is a common source of conflict. Now you are all aware of that?

Valuation Practice (Word Association)

Everyone also needs paper for this, and something to write with. Toss out some words for people and have them write down the absolute first thing they think of, then have them evaluate the word with a plus or minus.

Some suggested words:

  • Pawnshop
  • Democrat
  • Republican
  • Green
  • Socialist
  • Toddler
  • GM
  • Toyota
  • Mom
  • Cat
  • Internet
  • Washington
  • Scotland
  • Politicians
  • Coffee
  • Sea
  • School
  • Guidelines

Extreme stress reactions

Sometimes, words and behaviors trigger extreme stress in other people. The topic can be quite uncontroversial for most people but triggers something unknown by the respondent. Reactions may include anger and hatred, verbal outcome or a mental lock when people only think of running away and looking at the door. He is definitely no longer open to argument. We can no longer communicate with the person in this position. The brain's central switchboard has been knocked out and disconnected from his the intellect. Locking can be from several minutes to hours.

Some examples of non-Pirate issues that can trigger extreme stress at a Pirate meeting

  • Child / parent relationships
  • The Economy
  • Alcohol/Drugs and their policy

Sometimes, what seems like an insignificant conflict can cause severe and permanent damage in the communication between two people.

Effective feedback

Caveat: To start, while the group is small, too much criticism too soon is counter productive. Folks are just coming on board and not sure how they feel about joining. You have to weigh how important the correction is vs encouraging people. Certainly you don't want to chastise tardiness on a potential member the first or second time they cross the thresh hold, for example. "Hello, dude who came only once before. You do realize the meeting started an hour ago?!" Not helpful. That said:

Good social relationships are a prerequisite for the work of a group to be effective. Fortunately, you can learn to work in groups. If one of a group can ask these three questions, there are conditions to accelerate the achievement of the goal.

  • How do the others perceive how I work in the group?
  • Do people in the group feel that they can constructively criticize others?
  • Can people express their feelings?

The aim of feedback is to help others to work well within the group. Feedback is normally difficult, but there are no rules. Anyone can offer feedback describing their reactions to the other's behavior. The recipient decides whether, and if so, how he wants to use this information.

  • Describe the behavior you see and what effect it has on you. Do not keep score. Not you are sloppy , but specifically not you posted the letter I asked you about.
  • Provide specific feedback rather than general. General statements do not provide a basis for change. Not you should dress better , but your pants are torn.
  • Feedback should be directed solely against the behaviors that the person can do something about. Speak clearly!
  • Ask the person you are targeting to talk about how he understood what you said. Listen especially for what you get for your reply!
  • Give timely feedback. Feedback after just one performance or occurrence has more power than if it comes later. Not: "You came late every day last week," but: "When you do come on time, it is difficult to work with you."
  • Give the right amount of feedback. Too much feedback can make him impervious and lead to deadlock.
  • Feedback is desired perceived and accepted better than feedback that is enforced.
  • The recipient should be able to verify received feedback with others.

Receiving feedback

Receiving feedback can be as difficult as giving feedback. Praise we want to dismiss with an "Oh, it was nothing." Feedback may trigger a need to explain and defend itself as one's own perception of the situation is often different from the sender of the feedback is. To get more feedback is important to respond appropriately. Then we show that feedback is welcome, even if it can be unpleasant. We also show the sender that we respect his way of feeling as he does for our behavior.

  • Listen.
  • Look at the person.
  • Try to understand what he wants to say. Have a dialogue to clarify any misunderstandings.
  • Thank them.

Feedback Ladder:

  1. Discard - This does not concern me
  2. Defend - No it was not
  3. Explain - Yes, but ...
  4. Understand
  5. Modify - Perhaps with the support of the group


Are the following feedback according to the rules or not?

  1. I think you're doing a decent job.
  2. Everyone says you're lazy and nonchalant.
  3. Would you tell him to stop making noise?
  4. I liked your presentation. Good language and nice pictures.
  5. Please speak English so they understand you.
  6. You run around like a chicken with its head cut off!. You are distracting me from my project.
  7. When you look inside without knocking, I feel that you do not trust me.
  8. Next time you are careless, you'll have to stop coming to meetings. You have now made the following errors. a) ... b) ... c) ... Do you understand?
  9. When I talked to you you sat and looked out the window. I was annoyed and felt like I was talking to myself.
  10. The lecture you gave last week was interesting.


Try giving feedback with "I-messages." (Not affiliated with Apple Computers) It is called this because whoever opens the discussion does so based on himself and his needs.

I-messages contains the following elements:

  • Behavioral / Observed - exactly what I see or hear.
  • Feeling - ie what I feel when I see or hear this.
  • Impact - why I reacted so
  • Desire - what I would wish what happened instead.

I-message help with the fact that quite delicate things can be conducted without unnecessary misunderstandings. I-message is cleared from the hidden messages, hints, allusions, diagnosis or debt issues. The recipient need not feel threatened and not a defensive position which may lead to another unnecessary conflict.


When I addressed you in the group there was complete silence ...

When I see your clothes on the floor ...


At first I felt very insecure.

I get irritated and sad.


I felt that I lost contact with you.

Someone might trip over them.


I wish you to tell us what you think.

I want you to hang your clothes in the cupboard.

Example: You were silent when I addressed you in the group, which made me feel insecure. I feel like I've lost contact with you, and I wish you would tell us what you think.

Example: I get annoyed and upset when I see your clothes on the floor, because someone might trip over them. I wish that you picked up your jacket and pants and hung them in the cupboard.


Here is a sample list of words that describe our own feelings. They describe something going on in our own bodies when we experience a situation. Feelings can't be argued away, meaning no one can say "No, that's not true ..." or "where you're wrong ..."

Angry, Astonished, Tired, Confused, safe, easy, Sorry, Curious, Solo, Helpless, restless, inspired, serene, contented, Appreciative, Delighted, Worried, Happy, Annoyed, Anxious, Calm, Happy, Scared, Powerless.

Example: I feel angry, happy, calm ...

Easy. But there is a trap. The following words we use instead of real feelings. The score contains and describes what we think that the people are doing with us. That is, we blame when we use them, and the recipient may feel that they must defend themselves. We decide whether we become sad by something that is said or who do not meet our expectations. The following words are common in our culture, it's not really our own problems without our, the government or the weather wrong.

Cheater, utilized, Misunderstood, Estimated, manipulated, Brush off, Standard, Off-made, foreclosure, scruffy, Use, subdued, run over, dominated, inferior.

Example: I feel cheated by you.