If you are a living, breathing human being, you will have conflict. If you have an opinion on anything, you will disagree with someone. Conflict is an inevitable part of life, work, and relationships. So what happens when you face conflicts with your friends, family, or co-workers?
What if a friend doesn’t show up for a dinner engagement or fails to complete a responsibility on a combined project? How do you handle it when a friend asks you to do something unethical? What is your reaction when someone falsely accuses you of making a hurtful comment? Do you tend to hold your tongue? Do you wait to see what will happen? Or do you confront, defend, or blow up?
Facing conflict in relationships is difficult. We all want peace, co-operation, harmony, and resolution. Conflict can result in either problem-solving and resolution, or an all-out war! Conflictual scenarios can prevent collaboration and cause relationship breakdown unless you have the skills to manage it. How you approach conflict greatly impacts the outcome.
What God Says About Conflict
Every book of the Bible contains examples of conflict. A godly attitude, response, and prayer can make a huge difference in how the process unfolds.
Gideon had a remarkable gift for defusing conflict. In Judges 8:1-3 the Ephraimites accused and criticized him sharply. Gideon’s response was truthful, gentle, and complimentary. This caused their resentment and anger towards him to subside, proving the principle found in Proverbs 15:1: "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."
Prayer is essential. Pray that your attitude will be loving and that God will provide you with his wisdom and insight to work through the issue. Paul says we need to “always keep on praying” and to “do everything in love” in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (TLB) and 1 Corinthians 16:14 (NIV).
3 Strategies to Manage Conflict
When you clash or disagree with someone, one way to prevent escalation is to take a time-out to consider the issues and your response. Don’t feel pressured to resolve the situation immediately.
Sum up what the other person says by paraphrasing their demands, viewpoints, and comments. This will clarify the issue and provide you the opportunity to reply. Most people don’t listen well and tend to react defensively when engaged in conflict. Summarizing what someone says demonstrates that you are listening, you care, and are trying to understand. Replaying what you hear doesn’t equate to agreement with their opinion or request. Here are some ways to help you sum up what the speaker is saying: “In other words, you were not able to make the dinner appointment and thought I should have called you to confirm the date beforehand?” or “What I hear you saying is that you want me to tell our friends that you were sick when you really weren’t?”
Communicate your need, viewpoint and request graciously but firmly. “I was hurt when you didn’t show up for dinner because I thought the date was set. I would really appreciate it if in the future you could call me and let me know you can’t make it. That way I won’t be sitting in the restaurant worried about you.” Or, “I prefer to tell our friends the truth about what happened or would ask that you tell them. I want to be forthright and honest about the situation.”
Why not discover how you can better manage conflict and prevent relationship breakdown? Using conflict resolution skills along with prayer and God’s wisdom will give you greater opportunity for success in your friendships, family, and the workplace.
Do you need God’s wisdom for the relationships in your life right now? Listen to his promise from James 1:5-6: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”