Whenever two or more people come together, there is bound to be conflict. It’s inevitable. It happens. However, it’s the approaches we take to manage and overcome the conflict in our relationships, and workplace.
Whatever the cause of disagreements and disputes, by learning these skills, we can keep our personal and professional relationships stronger and worth keeping. That’s the way that God intended. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
Remember, conflict is a normal part of any healthy relationship. After all, two people can’t be expected to agree on everything, all the time. We have to be persistent when conflict shows up. Don’t avoid it. I like to refer to the conflict as “The elephant in the room.” The elephant is the problem, not the person.
The key is not to avoid the conflict, but, to learn how to resolve conflict in ways that will allow you to maintain healthy God-given relationships. Avoiding or delaying a difficult conversation can hurt any relationships and creates other negative outcomes. It may not feel natural at first, especially if you dread discord, but you can learn to dive into these tough talks by keeping your thoughts.
Even God knew that relationships were difficult to maintain. He said, “When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Psalm 61:2. We have to consult God in everything. It just causes for an easier life. God knew we would have to work through the challenges of conflict.
However, he has asked us to come to Him when our heart is overwhelmed. Then, God equips us with the wisdom and the knowledge we need to resolve conflict according to His divine will.
After you have worked through the process of overcoming conflict with joy, it becomes easier. You simply decide to respect and lead a lifestyle of joy. Nothing should get you so upset that you can’t talk or respect the individual you work with or your significant other.
Conflict resolution is something that many of us were not taught in class or even in college. It was something we learned through trial and error, or we loved that significant other so much. We figured out a way to keep them content. This wasn’t always the best solution, but it worked.
Conflict is just uncomfortable. I’ve seen many adults avoid conflict. It just appears to be much easier; it’s not, the problem gets worse, and the more we don’t seek answers to resolve the conflict. It becomes more convoluted, especially in arguments.
You just down-right forget what you were arguing about in the first place. Psychologist Connie Lillas uses a driving analogy to describe the three most common ways people respond when they’re overwhelmed by stress: Foot on the gas. An angry or agitated stress response. You’re heated, keyed up, overly emotional, and unable to sit still. Foot on the brake. A withdrawn or depressed stress response. You shut down, space out, and show very little energy or emotion. Foot on both gas and brake. A tense and frozen stress response. You “freeze” under pressure and can’t do anything. You look paralyzed, but under the surface, you’re extremely agitated.
After experiencing conflict in so many areas of my life, I wanted to share the steps I walk through to guide my thoughts. These steps keep me connected to the most important relationships in my life. I simply love to communicate. It takes a lot of practice.
How to Respond to Conflict With Joy: Examine yourself first.
Sometimes the issue is personal to you and you are only blaming others for your problem. Not only is this unfair, it doesn’t lead to a healthy resolution of conflict. Look carefully at the “plank” in your own eye. (Matthew 7:3-5) Consider the other person’s side of the conflict. It really could be YOU!
Be Respectful. Every conversation we have must begin in a place of mutual respect. It’s difficult to communicate and show respect to someone if you don’t have respect for them. It’s even more difficult if you don’t respect yourself. Go into every conflict demonstrating that person deserves your respect, even when they don’t. You’ll come out emotionally on top every time. [Use a lot of positive verbal and non-verbal cues to keep you actively listening to the conversation.] Reflect respect and dignity toward the other person. No matter how a person is treating you.
When starting the conversation, it may be emotionally charged and emotions may be high because of the unknown end. Monitor your breathing. Try to take some slow, deep breaths and continue to listen. You’ll find the emotional charge subsiding.
See the Best In Person
Look for the positive aspects of others, especially when dealing with family. Also, find the positive in your workplace and hte individuals you are working for and with. You are on the job to bring positive changes and to make a difference. Eventually, the other person will feel more appreciated because you see the best in them.
Work towards a Godly solution.
Never waste conflict. Use it to make the organization and/or the relationship better. Everyone wants a win-win situation, and sometimes that’s possible. Getting to the right decision should always be the ultimate goal. (Proverbs 21:3). It may be hard, but not impossible.
Grant grace and forgiveness easily.
Healthy conflict makes relationships stronger, but to get there we must not hold a grudge or seek revenge. This never moves conflict forward towards resolution. Learn the art of grace and forgiveness. We’ll all need it at some time or another (Ephesians 4:32). Conflict is a part of relationships. All relationships. As leaders, we shouldn’t shy away from conflict. We should learn it’s value and how to navigate conflict for the overall good of the team. In short, we have to lead by example.
Expect a positive outcome.
You’ll struggle to follow this advice if you continually go into conflicts telling yourself, “This is going to be a disaster.” Instead of telling yourself that. Tell yourself, “This is going to help me grow and improve my relationships.” As a result, you will grow more comfortable approaching the coworker who constantly criticizes and complains, or family that’s continually out of balance.
What kind of relationship do you have with your emotions? Help guide’s free Emotional Intelligence Toolkit.