Some Sure Fire Ways to Prevent Conflicts

Self-disclosure is direct and congruent communication and action. Let’s look at those times when you are the person who has an important need and you want the cooperation of another. Now you are the initiator, the person with a need.

communication needs i-message leadershipWe (in our Gordon Model Workshops) call self-disclosure in which you take the initiative a Preventive l-Message. It involves sharing with other people what’s going on inside you (needs, feelings, wants). The Preventive l-Message is a communication to someone who is significant in your life, someone who can help you in getting your needs met. It is a direct, clear and congruently strong expression, avoiding either submissive or aggressive overtones. It contains, to a greater or lesser degree, a possible solution to your need, representing the responsibility you have taken to understand and then act to meet your own needs.

The benefits or advantages of the Preventive l-Message extend to you, the other person, and the health of the on-going relationship, including the following results:

1. You maintain awareness, responsibility and control of your needs and feelings.
2. Others know your needs and the strength of your feelings about them.
3. You model openness, directness, congruence, thus encouraging reciprocal self-disclosure by others.
4. Others are better able to meet your needs when they have a clear picture of what you want.
5. Others have advance notice of your need and can adjust their behavior accordingly.
6. You and others reduce the chances of future conflicts that can result from unknown or un-communicated needs.
7. You reduce the element of surprise, unpreparedness, and unexpected conflict from the relationship.
8. You save yourself and others time, energy and resources that can result from unanticipated conflicts.
9. You plan your life, take responsibility and prepare for future needs.

The Preventive l-Message generally consists of two parts: (1) the self-disclosure (“l want…” or “I need…”) and (2) the reason (usually desired consequence) for the self-disclosure (“I want… because…”). Examples of Preventive I-Messages include:

Spouse/Partner

1. I’d like us to do something fun together this weekend… because I’d enjoy having time with just you.
2. There’s a conference coming up next month and I’d like to attend… because I think I’ll learn some things that will be helpful to me at work.
3. I’d really like to visit my folks this year as part of our vacation… I miss them and really feel out of touch with their lives.

Job Relationships

4. (to boss) I would like to have an increase in my salary… I’ve taken on several major new responsibilities and increased my section’s production. I really feel I’ve earned a raise.
5. (to boss) I want to start getting together with you at least once a week… so I can keep you up to date on my activities and get your reactions to what I’m doing to see if we’re in sync.
6. (to co-worker) I want to work out a schedule with you for using our office equipment… because I need to know when it is available so I can plan my work more efficiently and conveniently.

Social Relationships

7. (to a friend) We’d like you to join us for dinner Friday night, and we want it to be our treat… because we’d enjoy showing our appreciation for all the help you’ve given us moving in.
8. (to friends) Jim and I would like some time to ourselves in the cabin this summer so we want to go on our own for a few days.
9. (to a friend) I’d love to make the flower arrangements for the reception… because I’d like to do something to help you and that would be fun.”

What are your thoughts?

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