Vistelar provides training for a wide range of professional clients – police, healthcare facilities and utility companies just to name a few – but what might surprise some people is that we consistently get feedback from students who have taken our courses saying the verbal strategies they learned for work, also is effective in their home life.

Next time you find yourself in an argument with a loved one, try applying these proven communication tips.


The Five Maxims

The best way to stop conflict is to prevent it from happening in the first place. You can oftentimes help prevent conflict by treating everyone with dignity by showing respect.

You can do this by:

  1. Listening with all of your senses
  2. Asking – not telling others to do something
  3. Explaining why you’re asking – set the context
  4. Offering options, not threats
  5. Giving a second chance

Let’s say your child needs to clean their room but they don’t want to (what kid does, right?). Using the Five Maxims would sound something like this.

“Can I please ask you to clean your room? It’s getting a little messy in here and I’m worried that if you don’t straighten things up, you might lose your favorite toy in all this clutter. “

If this is enough to get your child to clean their room, then great. If you’re met with resistance, use all your senses to hear what your child is saying. Can you find an underlying reason why they don’t want to clean their room (sick, hungry, forgot that you asked before)?

Now using what you’ve observed, give the child some options – always a positive option first, followed by a negative then another positive.

“You can clean your room now and then you’ll have plenty of time left before bedtime to have more fun. If you don’t clean it now, you will have to spend your playtime cleaning and once you’re done, it will already be bedtime. You don’t want that, do you? So let’s start cleaning one corner of the room and before you know it, you’ll be done and off having more fun.”


Beyond Active Listening

Sometimes conflict comes from a misunderstanding. Being mindful of your spouse’s mindset and what they’re saying might prevent an argument.

To go beyond active listening, you should:

  1. Empathize
  2. Ask questions to clarify
  3. Paraphrase
  4. Summarize

An example of how to use moving beyond active listening at home is when you ask someone how their day was and you get the ubiquitous “fine” response.

If you know your spouse has been dealing with a sore neck all week and they tell you they’re fine but the body language says something different, put yourself in their shoes. Imagine doing all the things they do while in pain.

Now you can better understand how they are truly feeling and can ask a few questions to help you get to the true answer of how their day was.

“You had to do *blank* with that sore neck of yours? How did you manage?”

Then when you get an answer, “You had to work all day holding an ice pack on your neck. That must have made it difficult to get your work done like that.”

Then summarize what you heard back to them. It let’s them know you heard them correctly.


The Persuasion Sequence

Sometimes conflict is unavoidable. When it comes up, the persuasion sequence can help guide an argument to a successful outcome.

The persuasion sequence consists of:

  1. Asking – not telling
  2. Explaining why
  3. Giving options, not threats

Sound familiar? It should.

These make up the heart of the Five Maxims communication tips and by using these three points, you can quickly and easily guide a situation to where you want and need it to go.

In the book Confidence In Conflict For Everyday Life, author Kathy Mangold uses a rude moviegoer as an example of how the persuasion sequence helps to resolve a conflict.

Ask – “Now that the movie has started, could you please stop texting?” If that doesn’t do it, go straight to step two.

Explain why / set context – “The light from the phone is distracting those of us around you, so could you please put your phone away?”

Give options, not threats – “I know you paid good money to see this, and I want you to see the show. I don’t want to get a manager involved because they’d make you leave and you’d be out cold. So why not sit back and enjoy?”



The communication strategies of Verbal Defense & Influence are designed to work in any environment. Whether at home or work, it can keep you physically and emotionally safe.

If you’re interested in learning more about using Verbal Defense & Influence in your personal life, Confidence In Conflict For Everyday Life is a great resource. Visit the Amazon bookstore today to read reviews and order your copy to learn more communication tips for home and work.




Vistelar Group –