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Time Management & Conflict Resolution - 7 Steps to Improve Your Communication Skills & Save Time

Paula Eder

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Time management requires good timing. And strong conflict resolution skills will free up enormous amounts of your time.

How much time per week do you spend locked in circular ‘discussions’ with friends and family, talks that produce nothing but frayed nerves? How about power struggles with work colleagues? Hazard a guess. You can reclaim that time and reduce your stress in 7 steps.

Time Management & Conflict Resolution - 7 Steps to Improve Your Timing and Communication Skills

  1. Dedicate a small notebook for information gathering.
  2. For the next few days, simply document. Which conversations feel habitual and frustrating? Examples may be locking horns with your teenager about doing dishes, or giving your spouse unsolicited and unaccepted advice again about problems at work. To gather new information, record the following:
    • When do the problems occur?
    • When people first walk in the door? Another time?
    • How do you view your role? How do you think others view it?
    • What patterns emerge?
    No need to judge. Simply conduct the research like a scientist.
  3. Now, do less, not more! This all-important step involves disengaging. Granted, you may care deeply about this issue. But circular conversations go nowhere. Step back when tempers rise or conversations become deadlocked. You needn't back down. Simply say, “I'd like to give this more thought. I'll get back to you later. "
  4. Schedule a follow-up session. If possible, cooperatively schedule the next talk. Select a time when you both are most likely to be relatively relaxed and focused. Emphasize that this is a time to collaborate on solutions that are mutually beneficial.
  5. Do your homework beforehand Prepare while alone and comfortable. Actively empathize with the other person's vantage point as best you can. What solutions might be considered win-win? What are you willing to offer or give up? Write this down.
  6. Negotiate. Start with a casual check-in so each party can relax and become attuned to how the other feels in this moment. State your interest in arriving at a mutually agreeable solution. Recap the other's vantage point as well as you can. Invite clarification, and offer your suggestions. Listen to theirs.
  7. Prepare to compromise. Keep expectations of getting your own way to a minimum. The goal is to arrive at something the two of you can live with.
  8. Then validate and reward yourself! You have substituted a single unmet goal, which was having your point of view predominate, with four accomplished goals:
    • Effective time management Arriving at mutually satisfactory resolutions allows you to move forward to new challenges.
    • Enhanced communication skills You evolve past power struggles through active listening and by selecting optimal times to interact.
    • Reduced Stress Letting go of the desire to control and accepting what can evolve cooperatively, will allow you to move through life with more ease.
    • Conflict resolution The sooner you transition from a win-lose to a win-win approach, the sooner you will reach agreements that leave both parties satisfied.

How else might you enhance your communication skills and, therefore, your time management?

You can find guidance and timely tips when you sign up for our free Award-Winning Finding Time E-zine at

And you'll receive a special bonus of 2 free articles that expose common time myths and suggest ways to enhance your effectiveness. Offered by Paula Eder, Ph. D, The Time Finder.


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