Understanding communication, confrontation, and resolving conflict in my life has never been an option. Being next to the youngest of six siblings, I learned early to use my voice to resolve conflict.
First of all, to resolve conflict, we must be willing to communicate or discuss the circumstances or situation. This subject brings me to the word … confrontation. Most people perceive confrontation as a negative. However, I define the term as giving or more receiving more information.
The counseling tool I will be discussing is called Active Listening or Reflective listening. But I like to call it Drive-through talking because it is a great word picture and includes all ages.
Most people have given an order at a fast-food restaurant. Pay attention to the communication. It goes something like this:
“Hello, May I take your order?”
“Yes, I would like a cheeseburger with extra pickles and an order of onion rings. Static. Oh yeah, will you add a large Diet Coke to that order?”
“Sure, my pleasure. So did you say a hamburger or a cheeseburger? And an order of onion rings and a large Coke?” Static.
“I said a cheeseburger. Static. And with extra pickles. You got the onion rings right, but it’s a Diet Coke.”
“Okay, that’s a cheeseburger with extra pickles, an order of onion rings, and a large Diet Coke? Static Correct?” Static.
“Yes, that is correct.”
“Sorry. There’s static on the speaker, so I was having some difficulty understanding what you were saying. Static. I had to guess. Thank you for making it clear. I’ll have your order right up. Your total will be $8.26.” Static.
“No problem. We worked it out. It’s all-good. Static. Thank you.”
“No, Thank you. I appreciate your patience. Pull forward to the window, and I’ll have your order ready for you.
Did you notice? Only one person talks at a time. The other person listens and then gives the person who was speaking feedback.
Let’s discuss the Rules for Drive through talking.
• Communicate clearly. Focus on using “I” statements …
Avoid using “you” statements because this may put the person on the defensive and escalate or shut down the communication process.
• Keep your comments to 2-3 minutes.
Use a timer if necessary. Do not dominate the conversation. Take turns talking and listening. If communication becomes one-sided, it becomes a monolog.
• Listen, then, repeat back what you think you heard and how it made you feel.
“What I heard you say is….” “That made me feel...” (Keep in mind emotions are normal and neutral. It is what we do with our emotions that will determine the outcome.)
• Then you may add your comments.
“I would like to clarify….” “I would like to add.”
“I would like to give you some more information.” “When I heard _________I realized
there was a misunderstanding or miscommunication in what I said, “What I meant was….” “What is in my heart is….”
Allow the person you are communicating with to repeat the process. Let them speak. Listen. Then give feedback (using ‘I” statements)- followed by any additional comments to bring clarity to the conversation or communication.
Objective: is to communicate respectfully and clearly, to be correctly understood, and to resolve conflict.
Drive-though-talking is an excellent example because there is an expected protocol to speak clearly with respect and listen to verify we are understood correctly. We don’t allow ourselves to get upset or defensive if they’ve misheard us. We simply confront the misunderstanding by reiterating our request, which is merely giving and receiving more information, and the conflict is resolved.
Can you imagine what would happen if we treated our loved ones with the same respect and kindness that we do when communicating with a drive-through person, a stranger?
OR what if we talked to the drive-though person the way we speak to our loved ones when we’re upset or dealing with unresolved conflict?
That conversation might go something like this:
“Hello, May take your order?”
“Yes, I would like a cheeseburger, extra pickles, and an order of onion rings. Static Oh yeah, Will you add a large Diet Coke to that order?”
“Sure, my pleasure. So did you say a hamburger or a cheeseburger? Static And an order of onion rings and a large Coke?” static
“REALLY?” huff… Why don’t you listen to me? I SAID I WANTED a cheeseburger, extra pickles, and an order of onion rings. Static. And a large DIET Coke. Huff. I don’t believe this.”
“Sorry. There’s static on the speaker, so I was having some difficulty understanding what you were saying. Static. I had to guess.”
“And how is that my problem? Static. You need to listen better, or what about you get your equipment fixed so you can do your job! Static Unbelievable!”
Well, that conversation didn’t go very well. If we spoke to a drive-thru person like that… you might end up with someone spitting on your food. Just sayin’.
When dealing with confrontation and resolving conflict, Remember to apply the drive-through talking rules.
Confrontation is merely giving or receiving more information. Emotions are natural and neutral. It is how you choose to respond to the emotions that will determine the outcome.
Speak clearly and respectfully. Remember to use ‘I ‘statements. “What I heard you say is… “, “This is how I feel….” Avoid being disrespectful or using ‘you’ words, along with blame-shifting, which shuts down healthy communication by escalating the emotional charge. Be polite. Ask for more information or give more information, using respect and kindness.
When you apply these simple tools will find it much easier to communicate and resolve conflict.
Try out this communication tool with a loved one a few times. Let me know how it works out for you. I would appreciate hearing your story and what you learned. Would you please blog your thoughts and experience? Thank you.
Sondra Umberger, Author, Speaker, Christian counselor, an ordained minister, and President of Healing Hearts Ministry, Inc., Connecting to Christ, offers faith-based materials and counsel on how to prevail over the challenges and struggles of life. Sondra addresses a variety of topics, including confronting and overcoming trauma and abuse.
Sondra having practiced Christian counseling from 2000-2021 is available to speak on an array of topics encouraging healing and freedom.