Workers can use positive communication strategies for problem solving, including:
- Advising and evaluating
- Reassuring and supporting
- Questioning and probing
- Paraphrasing and understanding.
Advising and evaluating
Advice should be given tentatively, when it is timely and relevant. Clients are essentially the experts on their own lives, and with appropriate encouragement can take the tentative advice and come up with solutions that fit their own situation. This strategy also encourages ownership, rather than having advice imposed.
Reassuring and supporting
When you rush in with support and reassurance, this often denies the other person’s feelings. While there are times when people need to be reassured as to their value and worth, often reassurance and support just serves to inform the client that they shouldn’t be feeling as they do (e.g. ‘Don’t feel so bad’, ‘Cheer up’, ‘In time you’ll forget about it’).
Questioning and probing
Questioning is an important skill for being helpful to people who wish to identify their problems and find solutions. To use questions skilfully, it is necessary to understand the difference between open and closed questions. Open questions encourage people to answer in greater length and in more detail. A closed question on the other hand requires only a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. An example of an open question is ‘How do you feel about your job?’ whereas a closed question would ask ‘Do you like your job?’
Paraphrasing and understanding
The benefits of paraphrasing and understanding indicate that this is the optimum way of supporting a client to clarify their thoughts. It is important to reflect back to the client what they have said, and identify whether what they are saying has been interpreted accurately by you and others.
How do you manage conflict?
The following activity (word document format) is designed to help you recognise your general view of the world and how you manage conflict. Complete the activity and write a short reflection of your findings.