Two people cant hear each other as they try to speak through a plastic cup phone.

Picture this: you're diligently working on a project, and suddenly, a colleague's unclear message throws a wrench into your plans. Now you feel like you're deciphering hieroglyphics, and it might even turn into a conflict!

Frustrating, isn't it? But fear not, for you're not alone in this struggle.

The good news: there are proven ways to navigate the sometimes tricky waters of workplace communication.

Learn to be a better communicator and make workplace conflicts a thing of the past with these effective communication strategies!

1. Listen actively

What better communication strategy is there to resolve conflicts with coworkers than active listening?

a magnifying glass with a person's face

  1. Use non-verbal signals: nod, smile, and use facial expressions.

    a cartoon of a person thinking

  2. Avoid making assumptions: use paraphrasing, and ask clarifying questions.

    mixed race hand shake

  3. Encourage the conversation: don't interrupt, and don't be defensive.

    a cartoon of a person's face with a blue eye

  4. Visualize what they say: picture the message to help you focus better.

    a close up of an ear

  5. Pay attention to the speaker: show respect and interest in the other person's ideas.


"I appreciate your willingness to discuss this."

"I'm not entirely clear on what you meant by 'taking more ownership.' Could you give me an example?"

"I really want to hear your perspective on this matter."

"I can imagine how frustrating it must be to deal with last-minute changes."

"Help me see the situation from your point of view."


"You're always making things difficult for everyone."

"Let me talk. I need to clarify your misunderstandings."

"You don't need to say anything else. I've heard enough!"

"This conflict is all your fault, not mine."

"I don't care about your complaints right now."


You're having a conversation with a coworker who is sharing their concerns about a project. How can you demonstrate active listening?

2. Practice empathy and understanding

Artist Zendaya saying.

If a coworker seems frustrated or upset, take a moment to approach conflicts with empathy, one of the most powerful and effective communication strategies. Put yourself in the other person's shoes and validate their emotions, concerns, their experiences like a pro.

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You can try these validating statements:

  • "It makes sense that you feel that way."

  • "I get what you're saying."

You can even disagree, as long as you make sure to validate their concerns: 

  • "I get why you see it that way. Here's what I would add based on my view of the situation."


Your work colleague asked you to help them with a project, but you have other urgent priorities and can't assist them right away. They become upset and confront you about it. How can you demonstrate empathy and understanding?

3. Use "I" statements and assertiveness

Jim Carrey saying 'I've got the power' line from the movie Bruce Almighty

  • Express your thoughts, opinions, and needs assertively, but respectfully, just like a seasoned diplomat!

  • Clearly communicate your boundaries, expectations, and proposed solutions.

  • Avoid aggressive or passive-aggressive communication styles, as they tend to escalate conflicts.

  • When expressing your concerns or perspective, use "I" statements instead of "you" statements. For example, say, "I feel..." or "I think..." rather than blaming or accusing the other person. This helps to avoid defensiveness and encourages a more constructive conversation.

a hand holding a `correct` sign Do

"I get anxious and concerned about our team's progress when project timelines aren't met."

"I feel affected by negativity, and it impacts our team's overall motivation."

"I feel like I'm not getting the chance to explain myself."

a hand holding a `stop` sign Don't

"You're always late for team discussions, and it's frustrating for everyone."

"You ruined the team's morale with your negative comments."

"You're not listening to me!"


You're discussing a disagreement with a coworker about a project approach. How can you effectively express your viewpoint using "I" statements?

Take Action

a group of cheerful people sitting at a table with laptops Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

The next time you encounter a conflict with a coworker, apply the effective communication techniques you've learned in this Byte!


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