Last week, we looked at what conflict is and some of the questions we should ask ourselves as conflict arises in our lives. (You can read that article here.) Today, let’s consider some of the barriers that make the resolution of conflict much more difficult and how to overcome them so that relationships in our ministries (and other areas of life) remain strong and healthy.
First, here are some of the attitudes or habits that prevent us from bringing about resolution:
- If we must always win because we’re always right, we have closed the door to the other person’s perspective.
- Often we are busy planning our defense and do not listen to what the other person is saying.
- We interrupt or respond too quickly. Rather than hear the other person out, we close the door to her communication.
- We may only listen only for points of agreement rather than trying to understand.
- Maybe we’ve determined not to lose this argument again.
- Perhaps our minds wander. Since we can hear faster than we can speak, as listeners we have extra time and may not concentrate on the details being shared.
- We can be judgmental. We may think we already know the problem and the solution. These attitudes will likely shut down communication and possibly prevent problem solving.
So, how do we avoid making the conflict worse? Here are 8 steps we can take to break down these barriers:
- Hear the other person out completely, even allowing time for appropriate “blowing off steam” if necessary. Consider if some of what is being said could honestly be interpreted as constructive criticism. When you listen to the entire message you might be surprised at the validity of some of the opinions.
- Establish and maintain eye contact with the other person.
- Observe body language for hidden meaning to verbal sharing.
- Repeat what you understood her to say.
- Ask questions to clarify anything you don’t understand.
- Call the person by name when speaking to her.
- As a leader, model appropriate ways to handle conflict.
- Be open to the idea of “being wrong” in some areas of the conflict, and if so, accept your part of the blame for the problem.
Romans 12:17-21 teaches us not to repay evil with evil but to do what is right and live in peace. We are not to take revenge. Christians are commanded to pursue peace with others, honoring God.
As we approach conflict and work for peaceful solutions, we must seek His best for all concerned. Though differences can sometimes cause broken relationships, it can also stimulate energy and encourage growth in our team and ministry.
What steps have you implemented into your life and ministry to help resolve conflict? Tell us about it in the comments section below!