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This WAC Communication Model Can Help You Resolve Conflicts Instantly

This WAC Communication Model Can Help You Resolve Conflicts Instantly

Conflict doesn’t care if you are a vocal person or one who values harmony, it will come to you almost every single day — at home, at work, on the streets, even online. For people we know, it’s easier to communicate and resolve the conflict; but for strangers, we usually shut our mouths and let our anger pile up inside.

But what should we do when someone keeps bugging us? There are usually two routes we take: either avoid direct confrontation or confront violently. The longer we remain in the avoidance state, the more anger we pent up. At the same time, the latter doesn’t do anything apart from allowing us to vent. As far as I’m concerned, both solutions aren’t the healthiest for us.

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You may think: man, it’s hard to raise the conflict and confront someone.

We are worried of the possible consequences after a confrontation, especially facing strangers. Business Communications and Etiquette Coach Barbara Pachter has the solution to these sticky situations and confront others face-on.

In her book The Power of Positive Confrontation, she introduces the WAC model[1] — What, Ask, Check in — to teach people how to resolve conflict in a fast second. She points out the main mistake people makes in conflicts is retaliating instead of responding to the problem, which creates more tension between two parties. So here is how the WAC model works:

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1. What

The first step to resolve conflict is to identify the root of your agitation. Focus on one incident that bothers you and start from there. Avoid using words like “always” or “never”, and simply describe your concern without blaming or criticizing the action of the opposing person.

2. Ask

After you have clearly and logically raised the conflict, ask the person kindly of what you want them to do. Make sure you are clear with your request, if not, you are giving the other person to chime in and redirect the conversation to his/her favor.

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3. Check in

The last part of this model is to check in on the other person’s reaction, and the conversation usually ends with a question like “do you agree” or “is that okay for you”.

Stay calm, cool, and collected.

With the WAC model, there are some other pointers for you to perfectly execute a positive confrontation. It is so important to pick the right time and space. If someone is rushing to get to somewhere, or someone is in an emotional state already, it doesn’t hurt to wait for a while. You also have to make sure you are in the right headspace and mood when you confront others.

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So how do you actually confront positively?

Let’s take a simple workplace conflict to demonstrate — Your co-worker always takes stuffs and puts them everywhere, and it’s hard for you to find the things you need. With the WAC model, you can talk to him/her like this: “(What) It might not be a big deal for you, but when I need something at the office, I couldn’t find it. (Ask) I hope you could put things back in place after using them. (Check in) Is it okay?”

Does it really work though?

It seems to be so complex with so many steps and considerations. But with the WAC model, when you slightly change the tone and the words you use in conversations, it greatly affects the listener’s reception. Confronting without putting blame on the other person produces a much more positive outcome, which puts you and the other person at ease.

Of course, learning a new skill needs time. Start with simple situations to handle first, and build your confidence to take on more complicated conflicts. Over time, you have no fear facing tricky people and master the skill of positive confrontation.

Reference

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Frank Yung

Writer. Storyteller. Foodie.

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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