In this episode of the Leaders Factory Podcast we're continuing our discussion on how to improve our communication skills. Conflict resolution is a skill most people avoid. And understandably so. None of us enjoy conflict, and if you do, you need help. But even though conflict is uncomfortable, it is a necessary evil to maintain relational health, whether that be in a marriage, a business, or a church. The secret to lasting, workable, and productive relationships is not to learn conflict avoidance, but instead learn the appropriate conflict resolution skills. In other words, we need to learn how to fight. Here are 24 keys to conflict resolution.
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How to Fight:
- Clearly define the problem. Clarify what the actual conflict is first. Then, see if there is any other reason this conflict is here. (Prov. 13:10; 18:13; 22:3)
- Quickly acknowledge the problem soon after the mistake and try to resolve it. Don't hope the problem will just go away. (Prov. 27:23)
- Encourage your mate to explain and respond. Use active listening. Repeat to the other person what you heard them say. Get their agreement about what you heard them say before responding (vice-versa). Learn to listen! (Prov. 14:33; 24:3-4)
- Discuss only one thing at a time and stay in the present. Don't dredge up past hurts or problems, whether real or perceived. Avoiding score keeping. (Prov. 19:10; 103:12)
- Don't argue about details, e.g. "You were 20 min. late," "No, I was only 13 min. late."
- Avoid power statements and actions. For example: "I quit!" "You're killing me.", etc. (Prov. 17:27; 26:21; 28:16,25; II Tim. 2:7)
- Avoid judgment words like "you statements". Stay with self-responsible "I" messages. (Matt. 7:1)
- Be honest in your statements and questions. Honesty needs to be accurate, rather than agreement or perfection. (Eph. 4:15; Prov. 12:19)
- Don't confront when you're angry or stressed out (cool your jets). Learn to identify your body's own natural signs when you're getting angry, stressed out, overloaded, or about to shut down.
- Never walk out without agreeing to take a break. It is okay to temporally stop when a solution is unclear. However, agree to resume the discussion when your emotions have cooled off. (Eph. 4:26; Prov. 11:14)
- Don't use the silent treatment. Nothing gets solved this way. (Prov. 3:27; 16:13,21,24)
- Control your tongue. Never use sarcasm. (Prov. 15:4; 12:18; 29:2-3; 16:13)
- Don't use "hysterical" statements or exaggerations at the time of conflict. (Prov. 29:11; 16:21,24)
- Select an appropriate time and place. Don't make a scene. Never deliberately embarrass each other or others by arguing in public. Keep your arguments in private. (Prov. 15:23; Prov. 25:11)
- Don't drag in outsiders unless each member agrees that this person can help find a solution or help referee. The person needs to be someone who can maintain unbiased opinion and someone who everyone respects and feels safe with. (Prov. 1:5; 12:15; 19:20; 20:18; 27:9)
- Surround criticism with encouragement (praise bombardment). Focus on your desired expectations or positive changes rather than on faults. (Prov. 15:1; Prov. 15:13)
- Put yourself in the other's shoes.
- Don't compare someone to others. Be aware of each others differences and accept them. (Prov. 22:6)
- Give value and consideration to the interests, goals, and desires of each person. (Prov. 29:7)
- When you're wrong admit it. Accept any blame for the past (Was the rule clearly defined? Was it written down? Was there miscommunication?, etc.). Identify your own contribution to the problem. (Prov. 28:13; 29:23)
- Resolve your conflicts with "Win-Win" solutions. Both agree with the solution or outcome of the argument.
- Forgive each other and do not hold resentment. (Col. 3:12-13; I Peter 3:8-9)
- Above all, strive to reflect HONOR in all of your words or actions during a conflict. (Romans 12:10; 2:3)
- Make conflict resolution a regular habit. (Prov. 13:24)
The above list is adapted from Dr. Gary Smalley's 2003 teaching "Rule for Conflict."
Question: Which one of the above keys stands out to you the most? Why? Please answer and make any comments in the "Leave a Reply" box below.