In the context of client work the reflective practitioner has to ask him/herself continuously: “Who is the person behind the professional label and what does he/she bring to the table”? Such self-reflections are necessary to assure that practitioners do not get caught up in their own past experiences when approaching those they are working with.
To do so practitioners have to thoroughly question what their contribution to a certain incident is. This ability to step back and into the ‘observer’ position is also known as becoming the observing ego. It allows practitioners to closely examine the interactions between themselves and the client. How are your affective, behavioural, and cognitive experiences contributing to a problem situation?
Here is a beautiful but simple strategy to deal with conflict effectively. It's a simple four step process "THE CONNECTING DIALOGUE" originally developed by Non-Violent Communication developer Rosenberg that minimizes the likelihood of defensive reactions in others. One important question needs to be asked at the beginning of starting a connecting dialogue: Do you want to be right or do you want to connect. If you want to be right you don't have to bother with this technique. This is, as the name suggest, aimed at connecting.
The Connecting Dialogue
The first step: Make an observation = "Ever since our discussion this morning, you've been very quiet. When I've asked, 'what's the matter', you've shrugged your shoulders and looked away from me without replying". The importance here is to make your observation without any judgements and stick to making ‘I' statement so that the other person does not feel attacked.
The second step: Express your feelings = "I feel unhappy about your silence and unsure what you're thinking". In this step you want to make really sure that you express a feeling and not a thought in disguise. Feelings are: hurt, sad, glad, bored, tired, anxious …. Avoid u-traps such as: ‘I fell that you don't love me'. That is a) an attack and will not lead to connecting, and b) its a thought veiled with a feel word.
The third step: Express your need = "I would like to understand you and connect with you". Make sure the need you express is all about you. Needs are usually universal meaning we all have these needs such as: belonging, shelter, safety, freedom, peace, understanding, support, appreciation.
The fourth step: Make a request = "I want us to sit down and talk about what's going on with you?" The request is usually what you want to have happen to get your need (3rd step) met. Be as specific as possible so that your partner knows exactly what s/he agrees to.
To practice this technique, it would be advisable if you could make a commitment to practice your communication skills every day. Think in what situation(s ) you might need the skills. Then write out what you would like to say and practice it one or two times. Then JUST DO IT! Later on reflect how well you did. Where did you shine? Where could you improve? Practice the skills for at least a month.