"Conflict is inevitable, but combat is optional." ~ Max Lucado
What Causes Conflict?
Conflict happens when two or more people cannot agree. Those people can be close friends, family members, co-workers, lovers, board members, church groups, board meetings, etc. Wherever people are there is conflict. We disagree about perceptions, desires, ideas, values, ways of doing things, etc. The differences can be trivial, such as who last washed the dishes, to the more significant disagreements about our fundamental beliefs. Regardless of the reason of the disagreement, strong feelings can occur.
Conflict and Anger
Conflicts can leave people feeling angry or hurt. Some people may feel vulnerable. Feeling angry is not a problem when it is handled constructively. Being angry is not the same as being out of control or acting foolishly. Anger is not the same as aggression. Anger is a normal human emotion. It is how we choose to manage the emotion of anger during conflicts that either fuels the fire and heats up the conflict even more, or handled right it puts the flames of the conflict into perspective and even put it out. Our emotions should not control us. We are to be in control of them We all have a choice. If you have an anger problem please take an anger management course.
Basic Guidelines for Fighting Fair
Fair fighting rules and guidelines help manage conflicts effectively. To fight fairly, follow these basic guidelines. It will help keep small conflicts or disagreements from becoming destructive. This may be difficult when you think the other person’s point of view is silly, irrational, or just plain unfair. But remember, he or she may think the same thing about your ideas.
Pray. Before you meet with one another ask the Lord for guidance. Ask Him to be with you. To help you resolve the issue in a godly way.
Remain calm. Don't overreact. Expressing your opinions or thoughts calmly and respectfully will help others consider your viewpoint.
Don’t blow things out of proportion. Stick to the real issues and facts and be honest about your feelings.
Don't stockpile. Storing up lots of grievances and hurt feelings over time can be counterproductive. It's almost impossible to deal with numerous old problems for which interpretations may differ. Try to deal with problems as they arise.
Don't stonewall. When you stop responding it causes more tension, frustration, and anger. It adds fuel to the fire. Without communication there can be no resolution. Learn to communicate effectively.
Establish common ground rules. You may even want to ask your partner-in-conflict to read and discuss the information in this handout with you. When parties accept positive common ground rules for managing a conflict, resolution becomes much more likely.
Express your feelings in words. Being direct and honest about your feelings is a powerful way to communicate. Remember your actions always speak louder than you words. Speak kindly.
Be specific. The more specific, the better.
Deal with one problem at a time. Don't bring up the past. At all.
Don't be mean and "hit below the belt." Attacking others creates feeling of fear, distrust, anger, and vulnerability. Door of communication are best left open when you are respectful to one another.
Avoid accusations. Accusations are fighting words. They cause others to feel attached and then they get defensive. Discuss the effect someone's actions had on you.
Don't say "you never" or "you always." Generalizations like these increases the tension. Increasing the tension is not a good thing to do during a conflict. Be realistic.
Cindy Hyde, MAEd specializes in soul care. She is an author, teacher, Ordained Minister, Pastoral Counselor, Professional Life Coach, wife, mother, grandmother and CEO/Founder of The East Texas Healing Center (a hospital for the soul).