Guided Team Meeting: Conflict orientation self-assessment

June 1, 2000
Everyone agrees good communication is a valuable life skill. But few people develop these skills. We want to help each of you become more effective communicators. After all, good communication is the foundation for the healthy relationships upon which successful practices are based.

Sandy Roth and

Terry Goss

Everyone agrees good communication is a valuable life skill. But few people develop these skills. We want to help each of you become more effective communicators. After all, good communication is the foundation for the healthy relationships upon which successful practices are based.

Becoming a more effective communicator involves three essential behaviors:

1. Adopt a positive, non-judgmental, non-punitive attitude

2. State with clarity what is on your mind.

3. Address issues in a timely fashion

The following self-assessment will help you learn how well you have integrated these behaviors into your communication style when engaged in difficult communication. We suggest each person on the team work privately on this exercise. When complete, consider how these personal insights might help you in your work and personal relationships. Then hold a team meeting to discuss what you learned and to create new working contracts with your team members.

- Are you able to control yourself during an intense conversation? Are you able to avoid rage, righteous indignation, and uncontrolled anger? Are you able to complete a conversation through tears? Do you use humor to avoid the topic?

- Are you open to the possibility that your perspective is incomplete? That you may be missing information or be laboring under false assumptions? That you might be dead wrong?

- Do you work hard to hear beyond the words of the person with whom you are speaking? Do you listen more deeply for meaning and intention?

- Do you make and maintain eye contact? Does your body language facilitate open communication or cause it to deteriorate? Is your posture threatening in any way? Do you have a pleasant, curious, sincere look on your face?

- Do you have a spirit of grace in your heart? Are you able to accept sincere apologies and give others room to save face?

- Are you aware of your own inner state (your feelings, prejudices, assumptions, motives, wants and needs)? Are you able to be truthful about what you are thinking or feeling?

- Are you careful to avoid emotionally loaded words? Do you drag in history or previous transgressions? Do you blame, label, or call people names?

- Are you able to listen completely to the person with whom you are speaking rather than frequently interrupting? Can you share the floor and wait your turn to speak?

- Are you defensive when the other person raises issues he has with you, however inappropriate at the time? Do you retaliate with another barrage when something is raised about your behavior?

- Are you respectful of the person with whom you are conversing? Do you avoid anything that might make him feel inferior, stupid, or ridiculed?

- Do you make your point once and clearly rather than beating a dead horse?

- Can you be both honest and sensitive when sharing information which might be hurtful? Can you respect the humanity of your conversational partner?

- Do you make efforts to ensure that the person is hearing you as you intend? Do you invite clarification to ensure your meaning is received?

- Do you control your own responses and take the "high road"even if the other party doesn`t?

- Can you accept not getting the outcome you desire, even when acting with honor and integrity?

Expectation Minus Reality Equals Conflict

Conflict is a mental struggle resulting from incompatible or opposing needs, drives, wishes, or demands. Sometimes we see issues from distinctly different viewpoints. Sometimes we disagree on how to do something. Sometimes we have different goals in mind. Sometimes we differ in our basic values.

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