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On the last track we discussed skills for communicating effectively. The six skills for communicating effectively are getting to the point, directly expressing feelings, giving positive feedback, making positive requests, checking out feelings, and taking breaks.
On this track we will discuss five strategies for managing conflict. As you know, managing and resolving conflict may require the same communication skills described on the last track. However, regarding conflict, I have found that five additional strategies can be productive. These five strategies for managing conflict are avoiding blame, speaking calmly, being concise, discovering points of view, and focusing on the present.
I stated to Terrell, "Rather than blaming Ron for not paying back his loans, describe the problem, explain how you feel, and focus on finding solutions. For example, you could say, "I feel frustrated because I run short of money at the end of the month. I’d like to talk about this and see what we can do to solve this problem." Would you agree that by focusing on solutions instead of placing blame, Terrell made it possible to have a more constructive dialogue with his brother?"
Strategy #2 - Speaking Calmly
Strategy #3 - Being Concise
For example, Fred, age 50, became concerned that his daughter, Vanessa, age 24, would lose her subsidized housing because of the fire hazard of numerous piles of newspapers and magazines. When Fred talked to Vanessa about the problem he digressed. Fred stated to me, "I got off track. I started in about how she used to keep old papers and magazines when she was a teenager. Then I started in about her housekeeping habits in general. Vanessa has this dirty old stained chair and that reminded me of some new upholstered chairs a guy at work was giving away, so I started telling her about that. I don’t think she got the point of her piles of newspapers being a fire hazard at all, because she apparently didn’t know how to respond."
As you can infer, had Fred avoided talking about things that were unrelated, Vanessa may have understood his point. Could pausing frequently to review what has already been said also help your schizophrenic client stay on track?
Strategy #4 - Discovering Points of View
Fred was sure to allow Vanessa enough time to consider her point of view and answer him. Do you agree that if a family member of a client with schizophrenia fails to seek the client’s opinion, then the client may feel frustrated and less interested in resolving the conflict?
Strategy #5 - Focusing on the Present
For example, comments about being lazy or irresponsible can be upsetting and distract a client with schizophrenia from attending to the problem at hand. Gerald, age 42, was married to Cynthia, age 39. Cynthia was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Cynthia took medication to regulate her symptoms as well as her mood, but the medication did not decrease her impulsivity regarding spending money. Therefore, Gerald found it more productive to concentrate on how they could follow a budget for the coming month and avoid referring to past financial problems or describing Cynthia as extravagant.
Think of your Cynthia. Could focusing on the present help your client’s family member manage or resolve a specific conflict?
On this track we have discussed five strategies for managing conflict. These five strategies for managing conflict are avoiding blame, speaking calmly, being concise, discovering points of view, and focusing on the present.
On the next track we will discuss anger in schizophrenia. Our discussion will be include three main topics. These three topics are anger related to delusions, strategies for coping with anger, and problem solving strategies for clients with schizophrenia.
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