The 5 Cs of Communication in Conflict

Conflict is a part of life and it will happen and when conversations don’t go as planned, we can often feel like we are at a crossroads and unsure of what the “right” move is to put the relationship back on track. Here are some easy tips to consider when choosing a course of action aimed at the successful resolution, maximize connections and minimize conflict.

The 5 Cs of Communication in Conflict

Be Clear. When we get uncomfortable it is easier to be vague and indirect, but that only leaves people wondering what you really mean. Similarly, to ignore conflict and simply hope it goes away is the opposite of being clear.  It is your responsibility to start a conversation when something is not sitting right with you so clearly 1) identify the issue using facts and 2) know what you want as a resolution. To be clear is to be kind; especially when you have to deliver bad news.

Be Concise.  Providing too much information, rambling, or moving from point to point is ineffective communication.  Focus on the most important points and, if you have time, plan out what you would like to say.  There is no need to tell a story or apologize for your feelings.  Remove filler words like um, like, so and stay focused on the goal.

Be Curious. One of the most overlooked tools when it comes to resolving conflict is the skill of curiosity.  Asking another person to share their experience and perspective, actively listening and digging deeper through relevant open-ended questions, demonstrates value for the other person.  This alone creates bridges.  The magic in being curious is it opens up the potential for other possibilities and opportunities that normally go unnoticed.

Show Compassion.  Holding genuine concern for another’s feelings, beliefs, well-being, and outcomes is a way to foster meaningful and deep connections and mutually supportive relationships.

Collaborate for the win.  Creating a suitable vision together helps to pave a way forward that will result in positive and committed action.  This can be a give and take on both sides, or an agreement to choose one path over the other.  Either way, when all parties involved in the conflict feel heard and have contributed to the solution, there is a stronger commitment to the outcomes.


Tammy Dunnett


Communication Crossroads

Helping healthcare professionals make better choices at every turn



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