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Communication and working relationships in sport and fitness
Communication and working relationships in sport and fitness

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3 Potential disputes: using your interpersonal skills

In work teams or in individual relationships you often encounter key moments where communication and relationships come under scrutiny. Disputes and conflict can happen to everyone. You might be expecting it or it might take you by surprise, but how you respond really matters. Will your actions escalate the situation or diffuse it (Dfuse, 2017)?

Thinking of the sport workplace, referees, teachers, coaches and management teams often face conflict. Pause for a moment: identify what advice you would give to others about how to deal with conflict. This is obviously an enormous topic but would any of these points be part of your advice?

  • Pausing/delaying a response to reflect on what outcome you want is often wise. If possible, avoid responding immediately when emotions are often heightened.
  • Focus on the behaviour, not the person, e.g. ‘You came across as very aggressive … ’
  • Avoid saying ‘calm down’ since this can often inflame a situation.
  • Conveying empathy is important, e.g. ‘I can see how …’, ‘I recognise why …’.

If you want to find out more about conflict resolution then this fascinating BBC radio programme on conflict resolution [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] (28 minutes in length) might be a useful resource for you.