I’ll let you in on a secret: I hate conflict. In fact, I spent a good portion of my life avoiding it.
The problem with simply avoiding conflict? It does not really go away. It often burrows underground and resurfaces later.
Through the years, and unfortunately, perhaps, because of many opportunities for practice, I learned to manage conflict. The happy result: managing conflict well, rather than avoiding it, greatly reduces my stress level!
If you hate conflict as much as I do, you may be interested in learning how I made this shift. (By the way, I will tell you now that it was not easy!)
For years, every time I encountered serious conflict, I did two things:
I made it my mission to learn every communication and conflict negotiation skill available.
I practiced those skills by writing out what had happened, analyzing, and forming appropriate responses. I did much of this after the conflict situation. But I was more prepared the next time a similar problem occurred.
Practice is the key. Just reading about managing conflict isn’t enough. We could not perfect riding a bike by reading a book and we certainly can’t learn to manage conflict that way either.
Practicing communication and conflict management skills until I achieve proficiency helps me to feel more in control of myself and the situation. It also helps me to become more objective and take things less personally.
So, here is my challenge for you.
Stop avoiding conflict.
Is your typical response to escape the situation as soon as possible, dodge dealing with it, then fret and fume over it?
Try this instead. Grab a paper and pen. Jot down every detail you can recall about the conflict. Analyze the situation. (See my post That’s Just the Tip of the Iceberg for some ideas.)
Spell out various ways you could respond. (Remember, even though avoiding all conflict does not work, sometimes doing nothing is a good response.)
Finally, remind yourself that God will strengthen you and help you. After all, it is His ministry!
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