Stop Think Listen and Communicate S-TLC

Stop, think, listen and communicate may seem like easy things to do, when we have to respond to a conflict that comes up, but in reality it can be hard to do these actions. When a conflict situation comes up it may be easiest to let that conflict continue, because we think that further conflict will occur if we speak up. If we say to ourselves stop, and ask ourselves the following questions we may be able to come up with a solution. Being aware that we can ask ourselves questions such as, “This feels uncomfortable what should I do? Will this feeling be worse if I remain silent? If I speak up will my voice be heard and will I be taken seriously? If people can stop and freeze for a moment, and ask themselves these questions maybe the need they feel for conflict may not seem as important.
Thinking instead of reacting could help send the conflict right out the door before the conflict gets more elevated. Some conflicts may not even be that serious, but thinking about how the other person is feeling important. When we take time to think about what the outcome may be from the conflict we need to ask is it really worth it? Have I thought about all possible outcomes for this particular situation?
Listening is important and when you are speaking to someone and they are not paying attention we can see that they are being disrespectful. What can be very frustrating is when you are trying to speak to someone about something important, and all they can see are your lips moving. When we take the time to share our words and thoughts, it is frustrating when the person you are speaking to is not getting your point, and at this time we have to try to rephrase things. Depending on who you are talking to it may be a lost cause and you may have to bring the topic up at another time. In our text book, “Listening is a desire to pay attention to the other person, characterized by the openness to the other person’s views, willingness to suspend judgment during the discussion, patience to hear the other out, an empathic response to the other person, and a commitment to listen to all the other person has to say,” (Cahn and Abigail, 2007, pg. 50). When we enter into conversations with empathy, we are more likely going to have a positive outcome and will resolve conflicts in a productive manner.
When we communicate with others we need to do so in a thoughtful manner, because if we do this it shows respect for the other person. What happens when you walk into a room and the people are all smiling and welcome you in? You feel good and want to be a part of the conversation and you settle into a chair that feels good to you. What happens when you walk into a room and the tension is flying around the room and the energy feels very negative? You may want to run for shelter, sit down but make sure you stay out of the conflict, or you may stand up and say to the group, “What gives, what is going on here?” Sometimes being confrontational is easy when you feel confident about yourself, or when the topic is something you feel strongly about.
As you consider the S-TLC approach to conflict, which step gives you the biggest problem? The easiest parts for me in this equation are the first three steps which are stop, think, and listen, the hardest for me is communicating. Depending on what the situation is I may feel more comfortable keeping what I think to myself, and then sharing it will a close personal friend. If a conflict is occurring at a meeting, which has often happened I watch and see what happens between the main characters. Because what they could be upset about only applies to that group of people in the conflict and I do not want to get involved. For example, a co-worker who I am friends with would always bring up topics at meeting that would cause conflict. Sometimes I think she would do this for fun to see what others would say, or because she felt that she was being wronged, and wanted everyone to jump on her bandwagon and fight for the cause. My friend was great for getting things going in the meetings, and so it was expected that she would keep our meetings lively. Speaking up was easy for her, and she did not have any difficulty speaking her mind and we all loved her for it. The things she brought us were not only concerns about herself, but about the others that worked for my company.
Do you want to change what you do at that step? When I want to confront someone I wished I had more confidence, because sometimes what I am thinking about rolls around in my mind over and over again. If I speak up sooner than it will be off my mind, in many cases I think about what I want to say for weeks on end. My words may come to me sooner than that, but when I use some of the questions above in my stop section, it may take awhile for me to figure out what to say. Sometimes I forget that I wanted to speak up, and forget until the next time the same situation occurs, and it may take several occurrences for me to finally speak up.
When you are taught new ways of responding, do you try to use them? If not, why not? I always try to use new ways to respond to conflict, especially if someone has made the suggestion on how to resolve the conflict. For example, when I worked at the call center my manager would sit next to me and listen to three calls and would give me advice on how to communicate better. Some of my area’s that my manager wanted me to work on were being more direct, making sure the information I gave the customer was complete, and learning how to deal with difficult callers. We had so many policy changes that email alerts to the whole call center would be sent out by managers on a daily basis. I lost my job at the end of February 2009 and I did customer service for Passports and we lost the contract to another company. So when writing my answers the feeling of conflict was all around me, especially for my last 90 days of work. They gave us notice and on a daily basis we were surrounded by conflict the easiest part of my day was dealing with customers, and the hardest was being around so many angry people who were my co-workers.
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