Conflict is a touchy topic. Few people like to face it head-on. Most people run from it. The problem, however, is not the conflict itself. The problem is how we handle the conflict.
No one in his right mind deliberately looks for conflict. It just seems to happen, but, in truth, there are reasons behind all conflict. Searching for those reasons and addressing them in a healthful manner will turn conflict into what it is meant to be–an opportunity for growth.
So, the first challenge with conflict is the paradigm most of us have about it. We view it as something bad, something negative. What if we were to change our paradigm about conflict and view it as something good?
The second challenge with conflict is that it speaks more to the emotions than to the mind. This, I believe, is the main reason we hate conflict. We don’t want to experience the negative emotions that accompany it. Who wants to experience anger, fear, stress, hurt, and rejection on purpose?
The third challenge with conflict is that it takes effort to resolve it. Most of us would prefer to keep the status quo than to put forth the effort to resolve our conflicts. This may work for a while, but, eventually, an unresolved conflict will take its toll on a relationship and on the individuals in that relationship.
So, how do we handle conflict when it comes? Here are some Biblical principles that will help you:
1) Have the courage to confront. Much conflict remains unresolved because we are afraid to confront the issue or the person involved in the issue. This fear is what the Bible calls the fear of man, and, as Scripture explains, it causes us to fall into a trap (Proverbs 29:25). When we are afraid to confront conflict, we are really saying that the relationship is not that important to us. Our skin is.
2) Handle all conflict in love and truth (Ephesians 4:15). Both of these must be present. If you love but do not speak the truth, you will not resolve the conflict. If you speak the truth but do so harshly, without love, you will not resolve the conflict. Healthful conflict resolution requires the presence of both love and truth.
3) Handle all conflict with a willingness to understand the other person. Put yourself in his or her shoes. Do your best to see the situation from the other person’s eyes. You may be surprised at the way your perception of the situation changes.
There is no growth without conflict. A chick experiences conflict as it struggles to hatch from its egg. A caterpillar experiences conflict as it struggles to emerge from its cocoon and become a butterfly. And a human being experiences conflict as he struggles in his relationships in order to become a person who resembles Christ.
The next time conflict comes your way, welcome it. But be sure you use the three tools above to handle it properly. As you do, you will begin to recognize that conflict is your friend, not your enemy.
Questions: Are you willing to change your view about conflict? Have you discovered that running from conflict only makes the relationship worse? What are some techniques you have used to handle conflict in a healthful way? You may leave a comment by clicking here. To receive future posts on Matters of the Heart right in your mailbox, please click here.
Copyright 2015 by MaryAnn Diorio, PhD, MFA. All Rights Reserved.