This four-part blog series will explain 4 unique and healthy ways to effectively communicate and navigate your way through conflict.

In the last blog on effectively navigating conflict, we discussed avoiding words that place responsibility for what we’re feeling onto someone else during times of conflict. In the first blog, we talked about finding fault, blaming and judging—all of which are things counterproductive to resolving a disagreement in a way that meets mutual needs. Today, we provide insights about making demands.

Similar to judging and blaming, few people—if any—respond well to demands placed upon them. We define demands as asking for compliance, with the threat of punishment or blame if the demands are not met. Perhaps it is intuitive or simply human nature, but we immediately want to respond with a “no” when we hear demands.

Requests, on the other hand, are made with the understanding that the other person can say no if he or she is not willing to comply. It can feel weak and ineffective to make a request in such a way that the other person can easily say no. Yet when we make clear, specific, concrete, positive and immediately doable requests, we avoid the knee-jerk “no” reaction, allowing the other person to choose his or her response.

Too often we ask people to do something that is unclear or can be interpreted in any number of ways. You may have heard the phrase that is so true:  If it can be misunderstood, it will be misunderstood.

Consider these examples and you will experience the difference in tone. Instead of:

“Why don’t you grow up?”

A positive request would be:

“I’m sensing that you might be feeling jealous; can we talk about the strength of our relationship?”

In Part 4—the final blog in this series—we will review how to meet the needs of the person with whom we’re in conflict in a so that a resolution can be found.