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Person Centered Comments - The Fuelling of Conflict

Stop Provoking Conflict by Changing Your Language

conflict prevention in the workplace

Person Centered Comments - Path To Poor Relationships

This excerpt is from Conflict Prevention In The Workplace - Cooperative Communication, published by Bacal & Associates. It is only available directly from us.


Person Centred Comments & Criticism

There are several ways to deal with an issue in the home or workplace. You can talk about the issue, or you can shift the conversation to the personal characteristics, motives, expertise, and conduct of the other person. When you make comments about a person's conduct, expertise, etc. (usually negative) you shift the situation to an attack/defend one, even if that isn't what you intended to do.

Most person centred comments contain the word "YOU" as the subject, or prominent in the comment. Examples:

"You aren't listening" (one of the best ways to get someone to really not listen)

"You don't know what you are talking about"

"Who are you to tell me"

"Can't you just be quiet for a minute?" Note that this isn't really a question but a tricky way of asking someone to shut up)

"Have you even read the report?" (another you statement dressed up in a question)

All of these are examples of person centred comments and criticism. Regardless of your intent, or even if you try to soften the blow by saying something like "Please don't take this personally but... the outcome is going to be a heated discussion with a whole lot of energy wasted. You may not intend to create a conflict but the use of person-centred comments is almost guaranteed to start arguments.

The way you communicate is the primary determinant of whether the person you are interacting with will listen and think about what you say, be indifferent to it, OR, fight like heck against it. We've made a list of the most common, and detrimental ways of communicating that usually completely block the communication process.

Needless to say, if you want to reduce arguments, and have your position heard and considered, whether at home or at work, these approaches should be avoided.


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Established in 1992, Bacal & Associates is a small training, consulting and publishing company with a core business centering around all aspects of communication, including helping deal effectively with conflict, dealing with difficult people, and dealing with hostile customers.

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