No area of our lives is immune from conflict. We can encounter conflict in our marriages, with our children, at church, in school, and at work.
Some people are “conflict magnets.” They seem to attract friction and disputes wherever they go.
Others are immune to conflict. No matter what is going on around them, they are unaffected. They’re like the guy with high metabolism who can eat as much as he wants and never gain weight. (I hate that guy!).
It’s not necessarily a good thing to be unaffected by conflict. That might be a sign of severe narcissism. Hopefully you care enough about people to want peace.
And it’s certainly detrimental to be paralyzed by conflict. Your goal needs to be to deal with it and move forward.
If we’re going to deal with conflict the right way, we need to identify and avoid the pitfalls.
Wrong Ways We Deal With Conflict
- Ignore it. This is the most popular way to deal with conflict. But sticking your head in the sand doesn’t make the problem go away. Pouring your troubles into your favorite escape mechanism just leaves the issues for another day.Conflict is like cancer in one respect: if left alone, it will likely grow worse.Some people refuse to deal with conflict because they didn’t start it. But why would you rather live in a state of disharmony with others than go through the brief pain of dealing with the problem? Healing comes through the application of the proper medicine, and the medicine for conflict is healthy communication.
- Gossip. If there is a problem between you and Johnny, griping about your frustrations to Suzie doesn’t solve the problem, especially if Suzie has a big mouth. It won’t take long for word to get back to Johnny that you’ve been griping about him, and then you have conflict about the conflict.[shareable cite=”Dave Ramsey”]Gossip is discussing anything negative with someone who can’t help solve the problem.[/shareable]That’s not to say you can’t get advice from a third party. Seeking counsel from a wise person is not gossip, but the person you turn to for help needs to be trustworthy, discreet, and willing to love you enough tell you the truth (even if you’re wrong.)
- Blame others. You might be thinking, “But it’s their fault!” And you may be right! But before you run off and accuse someone of being in the wrong, you need to be willing to listen.Remember: You probably don’t know all the circumstances the other person is dealing with, and you don’t know their heart. Only God has all knowledge.[shareable cite=”David Rhoades”]Be kind to people. Everyone is having a hard time with something.[/shareable]
The Right Way To Resolve Conflict
- Examine yourself. Jesus said, “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3).Sometimes we have blind spots which hinder us from seeing our own problems. But if we take a little time to examine our own motivations, words, and actions, we may find that we contributed to the conflict.
- Deal with facts. Not everything you’ve heard from the rumor mill is true. Jesus said, “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault…” (Matthew 18:15). He might as well have said, “If you know for a fact that your brother sins…” This means that you are certain of the offending party’s words or actions. Rumor and innuendo are not facts.
- Take the first step. If you have hurt someone else, you need to make it right. Own it. Tell him you messed up and that you’re sorry he was hurt. As Jesus put it, “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering” (Matthew 5:23-24).But you need to say more than, “I’m sorry.” Ask the offended person if he will forgive you. Saying “I’m sorry” simply expresses your emotions. But asking, “Will you forgive me?” requests a response and provides an opportunity for the relationship to heal.”But what if I’m the one harmed? Shouldn’t the other person come to me?” It would be nice if everyone who harmed us tried to make it right. But that doesn’t alleviate your responsibility. You still must go to them. “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault.”
[shareable]According to Jesus, conflict resolution always begins with you.[/shareable]
- Address conflict in private, if possible. Unless the conflict has escalated to the point that it involves other people, the conflict resolution needs to be attempted privately. Occasionally conflict resolution is embarrassing or it doesn’t go well, and it’s better to have those difficult discussions away from other people.
- Involve other people, if necessary. It’s been my experience that most conflicts can be resolved one-on-one. But sometimes a mediator or a larger circle of people are needed. They can give a third-person perspective that both of the people in conflict need to hear.
- If no resolution can be found, go your way in peace. “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Romans 12:18). Sometimes, however, there will be a lasting disagreement. But that doesn’t mean you have to be disagreeable. Remember: Be kind to people!
Conflict is inevitable in this life, but the path to peace just takes some wisdom and a little effort on your part. If you are willing to deal with conflict the right way, not only will your life be better, but you can improve someone else’s life. And there’s nothing better than being a blessing!
What are some other wrong and right ways we deal with conflict? Leave your comment below!