I am one of those people who dislikes conflict. Not to the point of avoiding it to all extremes, but it’s not fun. It makes my stomach churn.
Yes, conflict can enhance creativity and problem solving, and strengthen relationships as we work through disagreement. But that requires resolution to the conflict – in fact, it requires healthy resolution.
What steps do I find most helpful in conflict resolution?
- Define the problem. I find it helpful to clarify where we actual disagree or have a problem. I might say something like “I hear you saying that…” or “It seems to me that the problem is X, is that right?” If we can’t agree on what the problem is, we can’t resolve the conflict.
- Look for agreement. Somewhere, there is a point of agreement between us. This is always true. Always. Even if all I agree with is that they are a human being made in God’s image. Label the agreement: “I agree that it’s frustrating to not be able to hang out with your friends at 3 in the morning.”
- Understand the feelings involved. I know that if I’m getting upset, then I need to take a break and cool down. But if I don’t realize I’m getting upset, I won’t take that much-needed break. You don’t have to agree with everyone’s feelings or understand them, but try to identify how people are feeling.
- Stay calm, stay concise, stay kind.I can’t control your words. But I can control mine. It is impossible to really resolve a conflict in a productive way if someone feels disrespected or put down. Check out 1 Peter 3:8-11.
Is this a magic formula? Nope. But it does help me to better live out God’s call in Romans 12: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
As far as it is up to me. Whew. Did I forget to mention step 5? PRAYER.
If conflict resolution is ultimately up to me, I’m doomed. But the Lord can bring peace, patience, compassion, clarity, and everything we need to resolve conflict well.