11 Ways to Better Communicate During Disagreements in your Relationships

Communication breakdown

It's always the same

I'm having a nervous breakdown

Drive me insane! - Led Zeppelin

Boy, don't those words ring true? Every year I try to be better at communicating with my colleagues and my family and friends, and yet every month I’m told by people that I’m not always communicating how I think I am. What is the problem? One: When I’m going a mile a minute, and as an entrepreneur I always am, everything makes perfect sense in my brain. Two: People are not mind readers, and yet I often operate as they are. Three: I assume people are seeing and reading the same content I am on a daily basis--but, of course, they're not. So here are the 11 techniques I've found for better communicating with the people in my life.  



When a conversation gets heated, you can get so focused on making your point that you forget to listen to the other side. When you're trying to prove your side, it can be hard to take a step back and just listen. It's important to use phrases like, “Tell me more about …” or “Help me understand…” Asking questions to help you focus on listening and encourage others to talk more will help everyone feel respected.


Timing Is Everything

@@It is important to be respectful of people when you're selecting a time to talk.@@ Blindsiding the other person makes it hard to have a meaningful conversation. Instead, let them know that you want to speak later when the timing is better.


Take a Breather

If something is frustrating, it might be better to wait to approach the other person. Just because you're angry or have the need to talk, doesn’t mean you have to do it right away. Time and distance can put the issue into perspective and allow the emotion of the situation to dissipate.


Pay Attention

@@When you communicate, there are more than just words to consider.@@ You should be paying attention to nonverbal cues as well. The tone of the conversation, eye contact, the other person's stance and how far they're standing away from you are clues to what is being said beyond the words.

It’s not just the other person’s body language that you need to be aware of either; you need to be conscious of your own, too.


Listen for Feelings

@@When you truly listen, you connect more deeply to others' needs and emotions, and to your own as well.@@ Also, listening makes it easier for others to hear you when it’s your turn to speak.


Focus On Now

If you're holding grudges based on past resentments, it will cloud your ability to see the now. Rather than looking backward and blaming, see what you can do right now to solve the problem.


Face To Face

Many people resort to “texting out” difficult or stressful situations, rather than talking them out with the other person. While it's certainly a way to avoid awkward conversation and confrontation, the only appropriate way to have a meaningful conversation that turns negative energy into positive energy and a stronger relationship is face to face.

As mentioned above, it's important to get the full picture, and that includes all sorts of nonverbal cues that only happen when you're talking in person.



@@Solutions are impossible if you’re unwilling or unable to forgive.@@ You have to be willing to let go of wanting to punish the other person. Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting. It simply means that you choose to let go in order to move forward.


Pick Your Battles

Conflicts are hard and sometimes the energy just isn’t worth it. Ask yourself, “Is this disagreement worth my time and emotional investment?” Make the solution a priority – even over being right. Winning at all costs is not worth your relationships.


Let It Go

If you can’t come to an agreement, sometimes the adage, “let’s agree to disagree” may be the right course of action. It only takes one person to keep an argument going, and that happens when we don’t let things go. If it’s going nowhere, it might be time to move on.


It's a Two-way Street

Ask more questions, seek feedback and be receptive. @@It's hard to hear things that are less than flattering,@@ but it's important to allow people to have their own, independent voice. When receiving feedback, don’t feel the need to respond immediately. In fact, it often serves you better to take the feedback and respond with better, positive energy after taking that breather mentioned above.

Giving people a safe environment in which communication can flourish is as important as your own efforts to communicate effectively.


Be Respectful

@@Being respectful means accepting opinions that differ from your own.@@ Even if you don’t agree with the other person's point of view, it is still a valid point of view and deserves attention.

Dismissing another person's point of view is a rejection of them. Avoid the appearance of an attack by talking in a calm voice, and by avoiding sarcasm and gossip.

These techniques have worked for me, with colleagues, clients, friends, and family, and I think they can work for you too. Start by trying the ones you're most comfortable with. Put them into action at work, home, or the gym. Your relationships will surely become stronger.

I can tell you the one I try hardest to always use is number one: Listen. I think Judge Judy said it best, @@“God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason.”@@