Jumping over the communication barriers

Posted on: September 20, 2009

j0430892[1] Sometimes it seems like no matter how good the shared intentions are old patterns of communication come into the conflict resolution process.


Here are some insights into what may be going on within yourself or with the other person and how to find a way forward.



Not wanting to discuss a particular issue

Resistant or defensive

Lack of willingness

· Lack of confidence in about ability to resolve an issue

· Taught to be nice or make things ok

· Fear of not being taken into consideration or heard

· Go back to intentions to resolve conflict – check if all your values are on the table

· Slow the process down so that each movement creates trust.

· Check if this is the right time to do this – do they need more empathy (pre-mediation or emergency first aid empathy) or to do this at another time?

· Focus on the qualities you want to experience in the relationship or as an outcome.

Scarcity thinking

Unwilling to consider other options

· Fear of losing something of value or not getting something they need

· Past experience of compromises that were costly

· Create an intention & vision statement based on values – not strategies. One strategy = only one opportunity. Strategies involve specific people, places, times and actions. On the other hand, a strategy-free intention describes only what you value and expresses the qualities you want to experience in your life. A values list opens the door to multiple strategies in the negotiation phase. Acknowledge that this phase will come in this process. The first stage is about discovery – getting heard, understanding each other and getting the important values on the table.

Lack of trust

“They’re lying”

“That’s not all of it…”

· Not all the info is on the table – identify need for transparency

· Worried they will not be able to take care of themselves – may give away something important

· Have prior experiences where trust has been broken or damaged

· Take some time to build a shared vision – put your needs on the table. Get clear about what is important to each person. Articulate the qualities you want in your life when you finish this process (not the strategies).

· Find an issue that is not so critical and resolve that first to build trust and achieve a success

· Build in strategies to check agreements are being met in the final phase and that if something changes for someone they will initiate a new discussion.

· Unwrap the term “lying” = people are telling their truth in a self-protective way. It is or has been dangerous for them to tell the whole truth – they are worried they will lose something they want or care about. It’s important to find out what they care about.

· Invite them to only trust the process to see if the lack of trust can be worked with.

· Put it on the table as a need for transparency/reliability/reassurance etc

Cynical or resigned


· Worried about being disappointed again around something they care about (as per past experiences).

· Find an issue that is not so critical and resolve that first to build trust and achieve a success

· Ask them whether they have tried a lot of things before that haven’t worked & empathise

· Ask, “what’s preventing you from wanting to work through this process?’



Wanting to move to next step before other person is ready


· Fear of not being heard

· Fear of losing something you value

· Feeling uncomfortable with the process

· Listen first – they will not be able to hear you until they feel heard. Bookmark where you are. Verify what you have heard by asking them to confirm that what you have reflected back is accurate and complete.

· Check in if they are normally a fast speaker or come from a culture where interrupting is not an issue. Explain that in this process slower enables the process to move faster in the long run.

· Check if it’s not you who are feeling impatient (could it be your feelings and not theirs?)

· Remember how long you have been going over the same issues or the same type of issues and not getting what you want and how much time, energy and resources that has cost you. Now is your chance to create a win-win resolution if you take the time.

· Acknowledge the newness and discomfort of this type of process – look for signs of progress and name them.

3 Responses to "Jumping over the communication barriers"

Thank you for the article on ‘Jumping Over the Communication Barriers’ – I am having some trouble reading all of the words in the article due to the formatting.

I don’t know If I said it already but …This blog rocks! I gotta say, that I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks, :)

A definite great read..Jim Bean

Hey, I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say GREAT blog!…..I”ll be checking in on a regularly now….Keep up the good work! :) :)

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