CU Succeed: Managing Difficult Conversations

LaReece Osborne
Staff Writer

On Sep. 20, Cameron’s CU Succeed series held a communication-oriented workshop focusing on managing difficult conversations.

Students who attended the workshop learned how easy it can be to misunderstand main points in conversations and what those misunderstandings can lead to.

Guest speaker Dr. Jennifer Pruchnicki, the Director of Student Development, detailed how conversations can quickly turn with trigger words or uneasy tones.

According to Pruchnicki, ten percent of conflicts result from differences of opinion while the other 90 percent result from using the wrong tone of voice.

She also noted that conversations turn into arguments when communication goals are not in line. “I think that a conversation that primarily focuses on who’s right or who’s wrong is going to be a shallow conversation,” Pruchnicki said “It will probably not resolve any issues and playing the blame game is not going to fix anything in the long run.”

Pruchnicki recommended that people try to find a solution and work on it together following a miscommunication.

The workshop also included some interactive role playing games to help students see both how easy conversations can turn into arguments as well as how difficult it can be to keep conversations friendly, even when the tension is undeniable.

Communication major Tosha Mac said she is glad she attended the workshop because it helps her with her field of study.

“Communication is a really big deal with me since my work involves me meeting new people on an almost daily basis,” Mac said. “I learned a lot of helpful tools that I plan on utilizing both with new associates and old colleagues.”

One of the tools Mac said she would like to implement is the removal of trigger words from her vocabulary during serious conversations. Trigger words are words or phrases that when used in certain conversations can cause the tone of the talk to become more aggressive or defensive.

These include “You should…”, “You never…”, “You always…”, “Why can’t you understand?”, “What’s wrong with you?”, “I can’t believe you…”, “You are so…”, and “You’re wrong!”

Once acknowledged, calmer easier phrases the workshop recommended included “I’d like to talk about___ with you, and I’d like to get your point of view”, “Can you help me to figure out what happened?”

Pruchnicki said that communication stress can be eliminated by trying to understand one another by implementing active listening, dropping the blame game in discussions, being respectful and keeping an open mind to others.


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