Do you feel overwhelmed at the thought of conflict? Read Making Peace with Conflict: Practical Skills for Conflict Transformation.
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. ….A time to be silent and a time to speak.” Ecclesiastes 3:1 & 7b
Recently I was at a training session on how to handle people with tempers. The speaker rightly asserted that leaders need to know how to bring calm to heated situations so that everyone benefits. Who needs increased conflict that only leads to hurt and broken trust if we can learn strategies to create peace?
The title of the talk was “Anger Management” and so it seemed that we, the trainees, were going to learn how to control angry people, to make them stop being angry. But we learned that we can’t control anyone any more than others control us. And we especially can’t control other people by raising our voices and fighting back in order to quash their emotion. That often makes things worse.
So it was intriguing to hear that defusing an angry person may mean we have to be quiet--not in a cowering, doormat kind of way, but in situations where we contributed to the person’s anger. The lesson was this: if we hurt someone, even unintentionally, and they get angry, we need to apologize for our actions, lower our voice, and show a spirit of humility. It’s not a time to speak up with “I didn’t mean to!” or “you just need to tone down!” but time to say, “I am sorry; I feel badly my actions hurt you.”
Dear God, it’s so easy to get defensive when I realize I’ve hurt someone, especially if unintentionally. Help me humble myself to see my part in the conflict so that I may apologize so that your peace may reign in the situation. Amen.
Do you owe someone an apology? No matter how long it's been due, take a few minutes to offer one today.
Do you feel the urge to fight back in such situations? Do you see the wisdom in being quiet instead?