CAOS Effective Communication for Conflict Resolution

A Guide to Effective Communication for Conflict Resolution introduces the 9 Principles that are also described on this site to help the reader develop a 'mindfulness' in relation to their communication in a way that supports the resolution of conflict. In this book 

Alan shares his observations and learnings from working as a Mediator and Conflict Coach with regard to the ways that people become stuck in unresolved conflict but also how they go on to create more effective ways forward in their difficult situations. 

"I think you put together so well all the essential components of
conflict transformation in a way which people can relate to and
understand. A brilliant book and I will recommend it to everyone."  

Jo Berry  -

You statement masked in I feel

How could the statement "I feel you don't understand...." be restated? I think this statement is often used to express a thought and results in blame and defensiveness on the receivers part because it's saying the other person is wrong for not understanding.

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Aug 20, 2017
Regarding ....
by: Alan

Hi Anonymous

Thanks for your comment.

I think there's still a risk that the other person could take that statement as a comment about them, even if the 'you' part of the statement has been removed. And to ask them if there's a way to explain something they don't seem to have understood may be a difficult task.

I would always want to try to 'own' my part in the interaction and also try to involve them in the creation of the shared understanding even if that is to start by acknowledging that we both see things differently. So for example.

"Perhaps I haven't explained my perspective very well here. I'd like to try to understand your view of this so that I can see if there's a different way I can explain my perspective that makes sense from your point of view. How do you see this situation?"

What are your thoughts about that?


Aug 19, 2017
Regarding i feel you don't understand
by: Anonymous

This could be turned so the 'you' doesn't negate the 'i' by stating; 'I feel I have not been understood. Is there a way I could explain/describe/illustrateordemonstrate my issue with this situation or my pespective more effectively?

Jan 25, 2017
Thoughts /Feelings
by: Alan

Hi John

Thanks for the comment.

I prefer your first statement ....'how does that feel?' ' you feel sad/hurt/angry?' as the latter includes your own suggestions for how they feel while the first statement allows the person to create their own 'label' for their feeling and so are speaking for themselves rather than constrained to the options proposed for them.

Best wishes and thanks again


Jan 24, 2017
by: John

I do think it is important to distinguish between thoughts and feelings. But probably most important that we can do so for ourselves rather than to educate others (unless they express an interest.) An excellent book to help with this is "Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life" by Marshall Rosenberg.

I tend to translate for myself when someone confuses thoughts and feelings. In my reflection of another's statement "I feel that person was rude to me". I might say "When you think someone is being rude to you how does that feel"? Or better yet "When you think someone is being rude to you do you feel (make a guess) sad, hurt, angry"?

Sep 09, 2016
by: Alan

Hi tblock

Thanks for your comment!

You're right in that it could be interpreted that way but strictly the person is still simply stating and 'owning' their view - that something in what the other person is saying or doing suggests to them that they don't understand. A question such as 'Why do you feel that way?' or 'What leads you to say that?' to the person saying it allows for the possibility of the discussion 'opening up' to find out a bit more detail about the reasons for them saying it and for seeing it that way. It would certainly be better to state it that way than the more abrupt statement 'You don't understand' as that would be speaking for the person rather than speaking from their own perspective and suggests it's a 'fact' that they don't understand rather than just an opinion based on their experience so far. I think the latter 'you' statement would be even more likely to lead to a sense of blame and defensiveness and, because it's stated as a 'fact' suggests there is little hope for continuation.

No response is 'perfect' as it will always depend on how it is received, but the risks of a you statement given as a 'fact' will be fewer than those that come with an 'i-statement' that acknowledges it is just a view point and is subjective rather than an objective reality. One shuts the door on further discussion, one keeps it ajar at least.

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