Have you ever wondered why no matter how hard you seem to try to avoid conflict it seems to find you no matter what? That even if you don’t go looking for trouble it comes looking for you? Conflict in life is unavoidable, the question is not how can I avoid conflict but how can I respond to conflict.
Take something as simple a a quick trip to the grocery store. This happened to me just the other day. I pull up to an intersection. I allow the car that was there before me to take their turn first, but they are overly cautious and wait…and wait….until they feel comfortable to pull out. I’m sitting there thinking “come on you could have gone” and I think “but thats ok, not in hurry.” Just then the car behind me starts to blow the horn. Repeatedly.
At some point earlier in life I would have wanted to throw the car in reverse and slam on the gas or at least just put the car in park and pretend like I was proving a point. Sure, in this situation my blood pressure and plus rate started to increase and that is when I had to change my thinking, consciously I decided to flip my thinking to a different perspective. I ignored the horn and waited continued to wait for my turn and simply just said to my wife, I guess they are in a hurry just like everyone else.
Conflict comes whether we like or not, the key though is understanding how to respond when it does. Generally there are 3 basic ways to respond to conflict.
- Withdraw: We can try to avoid the unavoidable, but it will eventually catch up to us. Withdrawing from a situation might seem like the easy way out, but in time only makes matters worse.
- War: We can go to war. We can try to take control of the other person and go to war physically, legally, and/or emotionally.
- Will Power: We can lean in to the power of Jesus and do our best use his grace and love to change our thinking and our perspective.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philippians 2:3-4)
Our conflicts range from small misunderstandings to huge disputes. Most of our day to day conflicts can be handled personally. Sometimes the issue so small it isn’t even worth thinking about. Basically this is just being kind and treating others as we would like to be treated. We can overlook and forgive. Take for example, my situation at the intersection. I could have gone to war, but instead of creating a bigger problem, I just extended grace and moved on. One thing to keep in mind is not to confuse over looking something with forgiveness and withdrawing.
Sometimes our conflict are so overwhelming that we need help and that is ok too. We can seek assistance from an unbiased third party or even have a third party make a decision for us.
In Ken Sande’s “The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Conflict” Ken offers the PAUSE Principle.
You can use the PAUSE Principle to negotiate and resolve disputes cooperatively rather than competitively.
A biblical approach to negotiation may be summarized in five basic steps, which we refer to as the PAUSE Principle:
Prepare (pray, get the facts, seek godly counsel, develop options)
Affirm relationships (show genuine concern and respect for others)
Understand interests (identify others’ concerns, desires, needs, limitations, or fears)
Search for creative solutions (prayerful brainstorming)
Evaluate options objectively and reasonably (evaluate, don’t argue)
When realize that conflict will come whether we want it to or not we can choose how we will respond to it. When we choose how to respond we can choose peace.
How do you handle conflict? Do you have a special technique that you use to resolve conflict?