How do you respond when there is conflict or a stressful situation? Do you avoid the subject or person?  Do you get angry?  Do you go into denial?

Communicating with integrity means to show more compassion and respect toward our conversation partners. This invites and influences them to do the same toward us.

By communicating with integrity you will have more influence over others. Being responsibly honest and more attentive will engage people to reach mutually beneficial agreements.  You are more likely to get what you want, and for reasons you won’t regret later.

We can resolve problems and conflict by learning to listen to others more deeply and by engaging in a dialogue of genuine give and take to generate solutions.

You will experience more inner-peace. Every word we say to each other reverberates inside our minds and bodies for many years. By communicating with integrity with others we can significantly lower our own stress levels. Even in unpleasant situations we can feel good about our responses.

To start communicating with integrity do the following:

  1. Everything you say should be true. Do not be tempted to lie about anything. If you are found out people will lose their respect and trust in you.
  2. Do not gossip or repeat anything you hear. Change the subject subtly when someone starts to gossip.
  3. Clarify and confirm what the other person is saying before jumping to conclusions. Only respond to feedback once you are certain that you know and understand what was said.
  4. Stick to the subject at hand. Don’t use a previously bad situation as a weapon in order to gain the upper hand in a conversation, meeting or feedback session.
  5. Never curse or swear. It is unprofessional and you will lose the respect of others.
  6. Do not disconnect a telephone call when you feel upset or angry. It is unprofessional to slam down the phone. Stay calm and watch your intention when you speak. Decide to resolve the issue amicably and with respect. If you find it impossible to discuss the issue on the phone, make arrangements to meet. By the time you are face-to-face you would be much calmer and able to resolve your issues.
  7. Say “please”, “thank you” and “I am sorry” when necessary.
  8. Do not make decisions about a person based on ‘hear-say’ or reports from others. Speak to the person direct and hear their side.
  9. Don’t be crude. People may change their good opinion of you.
  10. If you have an issue to resolve with someone, do it with the intention of resolving it amicably and respectfully. If you try to resolve the issue with “winning” in mind, you have already lost.
  11. Don’t give “the look of disapproval.” Body language may be non-verbal, but it speaks volumes.
  12. Watch your intention when communicating with others. What you say may not be what you mean. Take time out to cool off if you are angry before attempting to resolve an issue, because speaking in anger won’t get any problem resolved.
  13. Never demean anyone with rude jokes.
  14. Never ask embarrassing questions.
  15. Never threaten anyone.
  16. Deal peacefully with anger, insults and disagreements
  17. Don’t complain.
  18. Don’t criticise.If your intention is to hurt or wound then don’t speak or act. Remove yourself from the situation so that you can calm down and review the issue. Only enter into conversation or make contact when you have the intention to communicate with integrity.Practice the following communication skills (by Dennis Rivers), in order to improve your relationships with others.

Listen attentively

Listen to what the speaker has to say, and acknowledge what you hear, even though you may not agree with it, before expressing your views. Clarify and confirm what you heard. This does not mean that you approve of or agree with what was said – it means that you heard and understood what the other person said.

Explain your intention and ask for consent

Explain what you want to discuss with your conversation partner and ask for consent. For example: “I need to talk to you about [subject matter]. When would be a good time for you?”

Ask for what you want instead of complaining and criticising – and explain why

Help your listeners comply by explaining your requests with a “so that…” “it would help me to… if you would…” or “in order to…” Example: “Don’t be so inconsiderate!” could be restated as: “Please close the door quietly so that dad can sleep.”

Ask for what you want by using specific, action-oriented, positive language rather than using generalisations.

More gratitude

Express more appreciation and gratitude to build better relationships. William Arthur Ward said: “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” Healthy relationships need a core of mutual appreciation.

Practice, practice, practice

In order to improve your communication skills, you need to practice them until they become second nature. Your intention to change the way you communicate is the first step – the second step is to align your words, thoughts and actions to your intentions to communicate with integrity.

By Elsabé Manning