Conflict is inevitable. It is unrealistic for any of us to think that we can have relationships in this life and avoid conflict. While it’s inevitable, it does not have to be devastating. In fact, conflict handled in the right way will cause relationships to grow and thrive. Beware though; ignoring conflict will cause even the best of relationships to deteriorate.
The key for successfully resolving conflict always begins with me. Isn’t it true that most of us think if we could change the person we are having conflict with, then we could resolve things? Reverse that. Let this process begin with you. This is not about fault or blame this is about resolution and growth. If you simply want to pin the fault on someone, creating a win lose scenario, then the loser will always lack resolution and they will probably have a sense that your conflict has elevated. So, strive to make conflict resolution a win-win situation. Here’s how:
Conflict Resolution Begins With You
You are most concerned with how the conflict with another person is affecting you. The person you are in conflict with feels the same way. That’s normal and understandable. But you don’t want to be normal. You are created as a masterpiece, God’s masterpiece. Know and celebrate the fact that within every conflict you experience, there is an opportunity for you to grow. Growth is the key to unleashing and living your potential as God’s masterpiece. Rather than focus your energy on changing the person you are having conflict with, which you can’t do anyway, consider how you can grow and change for the better.
Choose To Act Rather Than Re-act
In conflict, our natural instinct is to re-act to others defensively. The example for how we are to “act” toward others is Jesus. He said this: “Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” (John 13:34 NLT) Instead of being defensive during a conflict, stay on the offense by choosing to “act” in love.
Focus On The Good Rather Than The Bad
When you are experiencing conflict with someone, it’s much easier to focus on the bad than the good. There is good in them and potential good in your relationship with them. (I know, because God created them as His masterpiece also.) Your focus affects the outcome of the situation as much as anything. Here is what Paul, the writer of much of the New Testament, tells you to do: “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8 NLT)
Don’t Walk, Talk
It’s often easier to walk and not deal with the conflict than it is to have an honest conversation. The habit of walking out or ignoring the conflict is a habit that leads to disaster and deterioration in your relationships. Here’s Paul’s wisdom regarding talking through a conflict: “And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.” (Ephesians 4:26-27 NLT) It’s very important to know that it’s equally important not to chase. If they are walking out, rather than chasing them down and demanding you come to a resolution at that moment, ask when you might be able to talk with them. It may be wise to let them process for a time period. For that matter, you may need time to process as well. You can do that by simply saying something like this: ” I know we need to work through this, and I want to, but I need time to think about it first.” Then set a time to talk.
Developing the skill of win-win in conflict resolution in all of your relationships is invaluable. As you do this, you will experience healthy growing relationships where you once had deteriorating failing relationships.
Which of the 4 actions listed in this blog are the hardest for you to do during a conflict? Why?