Conflicts are always going to arise in various settings. The hard part is not avoiding conflicts, the hard part is managing how you react to them. People have different tactics and theories. Here is a different approach as adapted by Amy Carroll, www.proverbs31.org/devotions
A New Way To Process Conflict
“When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say, and she always says it kindly.” Proverbs 31:26 (MSG)
It was like we were speaking two different languages. Even though my friend and I were both talking in English, we couldn’t seem to understand each other. I started the conversation with the assumption we would see things the same way, but emotions rose, opinions conflicted, and wounds were inflicted. How did we get here?
After a little cooling-off period, I called a wise, truth-telling friend. I told her the basic outline of the conversation, trying to keep it neutral. Finally I asked, “What do you think went wrong?” She astutely turned the question back to me. “What could you have done differently?”
Honestly, at first, I couldn’t think of one thing. After all, I was convinced this conflict wasn’t my fault! But after some reflection, God began to soften my heart and show me some big mistakes I made.
There are many times when we all must stop and ask ourselves: “Could I have listened more carefully? Would truly listening make us more compassionate? How could I have responded with more grace?”
God etched a new way of interacting in hard situations on my heart. This is the truth He carved: Listen with compassion. Speak with grace.
Listen with Compassion
When dealing with conflict. Ask yourself “Is this behavior consistent with the person’s general character? Could this person be encountering a difficult moment?”
Speak with Grace
Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (NIV). There is no downside to a gentle, grace-filled answer. Needed truths can be told in very kind and gentle ways.
Before I called my friend to ask for forgiveness and clear up the misunderstanding, I prayed for a Jesus-sized dose of compassion and grace.
Since then, I’ve been rehearsing “Listen with Compassion – Speak with Grace” over and over in my mind. Last week I had a chance to put it into practice when I received a difficult email. My first response was defensiveness, but then I started to repeat my new way of processing until I could hear the needs in the email with compassion and respond with grace.
I love how God gave me the chance to practice when I had time to take a breath, pause, rehearse my new motto and then respond. Life and relationships are filled with conflict, so I have no doubt I’ll have a chance to practice again. Next time, pray that you too will be ready!