When it comes to conflict the question isn’t if you’ll encounter any. The question is “how will you manage conflict when it comes your way?” When handled correctly, conflict can actually be the catalyst for personal growth and relational breakthrough. Below, I offer 4 keys that can help take some of the emotional sting out of the process of managing conflict.
After 14 years of ministry and 17 years of marriage, I’ve discovered that the root cause for 90% of all conflict is a lack of clear and intentional communication. We often make assumptions about what someone else understands about our thoughts, feelings, or intentions and as the old conflict equation goes: Expectations + Reality = Disappointment. Keep working on being an intentional communicator.
Communication often starts with listening, not talking. People need to feel heard in order to feel valued. James 1:19 commands, “…Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak.” If you’re really committed to resolving conflict, start by using your ears not your mouth.
3. Give people the benefit of the doubt.
Often times conflict could be resolved before it begins by simply give one another the benefit of the doubt. In today’s culture it seems so easy to assume the worst about someone else’s intentions, why not assume the best instead? 1 Corinthians 13:7 reminds us that the kind of love we’re called to express “…bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Next time you’re tempted to think or believe the worst about someone else’s intentions, choose to believe the best instead.
4. Reject Selfishness.
James 3:17 tells us to be “…willing to yield to others.” After all, love does not demand it’s own way, right? (1 Corinthians 13:5). The moment we reject our own stubborn pride and choose instead to serve others, our peace is restored and strife and division can finally be conquered.
A terrific resource that should be required reading for any leader (especially those in ministry) is a book called “Crucial Conversations” by Kerry Patterson. It’s a fantastic and practical read that helps the reader master the art of conflict resolution.