It’s important to understand that we all have different ‘norms’ for conflict. To have healthy relationships, we actually need conflict – so how can we approach it in a healthy way that will build a relationship?
Lord, where my heart has been hurt in conflict, please heal those wounds. Replace fear with peace, aggression with understanding, hopelessness with hope. Teach me to be someone who prioritises your people more than being right. Make me a leader who treasures You over everything. Amen
Everyone has grown up in a home where people fight in a certain way. This might sound odd, but not everyone approaches conflict in the same way. What’s normal for one person, might not be normal for you.
Conflict is already hard enough, without mixing in different kinds of conflict – and ways other people approach it that might scare or confuse you!
Communication plays a big part when it comes to conflict. The style we naturally communicate in will also be how we
communicate during conflict or tension.
Conflict is a scale, not an on/off switch. Before an ‘explosion’, there has usually been a build up of other feelings, tensions and misunderstandings. If we can use clear communication skills, such as active listening (need a reminder? Revisit “Active Listening”) we can often stop a conflict crisis before it even happens.
Here are some of the different communication styles we often see shine through during conflict or tension:
‘Assertive’ is the attitude we should all aim for when it comes to conflict! To be assertive, means to be clear, honest and have good boundaries. Assertive behaviour doesn’t seek to gain control or authority through fear, but through understanding and mutual respect.
This kind of conflict will focus on using “I” statements, such as “I feel…when you…” as opposed to accusations or presumptions from “you” statements, such as “you never even meant to get that task done”. This assertive approach towards conflict ultimately means, “I’m taking responsibility for me, and I expect you to do the same for you.”
Besides these expressions of communication during conflict, how we expect conflict to resolve also matters. Here are some of the different expectations we might have when we enter into conflict:
Believe it or not, the Win-Win expectation of a conflict resolution outcome is possible, and what we should all hope for when we experience conflict!Expecting both people to ‘win’ during conflict ensures that you speak respectfully, to maintain and strengthen your relationship, and you listen to understand so you can together, build a positive outcome where both people are heard, respected and understood.
This doesn’t mean you necessarily have to exit the conflict in agreement! But it does mean that the dignity of both people is upheld, and understanding will strengthen the relationship.
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