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Effective Interpersonal Communication

by Alan Sharland
September 2009 Alan Sharland
Effective Interpersonal Communication can be achieved through conscious awareness of the following Principles:

1. That we treat each other with respect

So how does that help? It means we can put the energy we spend 'demonising' others and complaining about them to better use, like enjoying ourselves and being present for loved ones instead of continuously distracted by our difficulties with others.

2. That we do not interrupt one another

So how does that help? It means we find out that, by not interrupting others and focusing our attention on what they say, we become listened to ourselves a lot more! Our conversations become more interesting, useful, worthwhile and sometimes even joyful, instead of difficult, tiring, boring or anxious.

3. That we have the right to pass

So how does that help? It means that we can choose not to do something instead of feel we have to or that we 'should' when we don't want to. It means acknowledging that trying to change others is not only not very loving, but is also impossible. It means acknowledging that when others try to change us, it can feel very uncomfortable.

It means taking responsibility for our choices and actions - because no-one else can.

4. That we do not volunteer others

So how does that help? It means recognising the importance of valuing others' right to choose and not to use our language in a way that assumes we can choose for them.

5. That we speak only for ourselves (We speak in the 'I' - often called using 'I' statements)

So how does that help? It means making more accurate statements with our communication - instead of assuming we can speak for others, we only speak for ourselves. This saves a lot of unnecessary resentment and resistance towards us.

6. That we speak but not too often or for too long

So how does that help? It means acknowledging that filling up 'air time' in a conversation prevents us from connecting with others through our communication. It means we gain the opportunity to learn and be creative through hearing others' views about what we say.

7. That we challenge the behaviour and not the person

So how does that help? It means that difficult situations can be 'de-personalised' and therefore become an opportunity for learning and creativity rather than a personal 'battle'. It means using a more effective approach to communicating, removing the unnecessary personal labels and destructive comments. It means keeping a focus on the issue, allowing for a more creative response to any difficult situation.

8. That we respect confidentiality

So how does that help? It means generating a feeling of trust, safety and in some situations, intimacy through valuing that which is important to another, and acknowledging and respecting their vulnerability in relation to an issue.

9. That it is ok to make mistakes

So how does that help? It means acknowledging the fact that we are not robots and that mistakes are opportunities for learning, connection and insight rather than opportunities to condemn another - as if we are ourselves 'perfect'. It means adopting a no-blame approach to difficult situations.

Biography


I came into mediation in 1994 from being a Mathematics teacher in a Secondary School in Camden, London. There was often violence in the area in which I taught and pupils that I taught were involved in violence, either as victims or perpetrators.

It led me to attend a course on conflict resolution in order to try to understand the reasons that conflicts are responded to in ways that can be so destructive.

To cut a long story short this led to me becoming a Mediator for Camden Mediation Service as a volunteer Community Mediator, dealing mainly with neighbour disputes. My teaching background helped me to move quite quickly into training of Mediators as well and by 1996 I was employed at Camden Mediation Service as a Case Worker.

In 2000 I set up and became Director of a community mediation service, Hillingdon Community Mediation where I worked for 11 years until its closure in March 2011, providing mediation in neighbour disputes in West London, training of mediators for our service and other organisations and developing a pilot project in Conflict Coaching.

In April 2011 I set up CAOS Conflict Management which provides mediation in a wide range of types of dispute, conflict coaching and conflict management training and consultancy, as well as training in mediation and conflict coaching skills.

I also have a website called Communication and Conflict which describes the thinking behind various aspects of mediation, conflict coaching and conflict management practise.



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Website: www.caos-conflict-management.co.uk

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