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6 Steps For Conflict Resolution
When dealing with conflict it is necessary to attack it from a place of strategic love. Dealing with conflict improperly could cause a relationship to be damaged forever due to the low blows, trigger words, and possible ‘yo mama’ jokes. Below I have provided you with 6 steps for dealing with conflict in a strategic manor and an understanding that if one side wins, then truly no side wins. By reading, processing, and applying these steps you will be positioned in your next experience of conflict for you and your significant other to come out of the situation victorious.
Step 1: Make The First Move (Matthew 5:23-24)
The first step in dealing with conflict is to make the first move. Now I know what you’re thinking. If you make the first move then you look weak. What you are really saying by making the first move is that you care about your significant other and the development of your relationship so much that you are willing to put yourself in a vulnerable position for your partner to be in comfortable one. For many of us it is difficult to take action in this way simply because of the animal that we align with. What I mean by that is when it comes to dealing with conflict we align with one of two animals or personalities. The turtle or the skunk.
Turtle: As a turtle your main goal is to keep the peace within your relationship. Because you desire so badly to keep the peace, once you sense any bit of conflict your natural reaction is to retreat and go back into your shell. As a turtle you do a lot of thinking and have many opinions but refuse to communicate them because of the challenges that may arise from expressing them. Retreating at that time of conflict may seem like the best way to handle it, but it’s possibly the worse tactic of handling the situation. When suppressing your feelings, emotions, and opinions, what tends to happen is that sooner or later you reach your breaking point and you transform from turtle to lion and devour any and everything in sight. Being a turtle may seem like taking the high road in that moment, but it truly is weighing you down and setting your relationship up to experience dysfunction and lingering negative feelings. If you are a turtle it is mandatory that you challenge yourself to stop running from conflict and be more expressive of your thoughts and feelings.
Now if the construct of the turtle is on the total opposite end of the spectrum then you my friend are a skunk.
Skunk: Skunks, unlike turtles, have no problem at all expressing themselves no filter included. When a skunk has an opinion, you are the next one to hear it. Although it is better to express yourself than to flee from conflict, being overly expressive can bring about new challenges in a relationship. For example, by always feeling the need to say what’s on your mind you can easily miss the opportunity to listen to your significant others point of view. Lack of willingness to hear out your partner can cause them to feel that their opinion is not valued and if they are a turtle it will be more reason to keep their thoughts and feelings to themselves. As a skunk it is mandatory that you challenge yourself to practice listening and to gain an understanding that some of your thoughts are meant to just stay thoughts.
Whether you’re a turtle or a skunk understand that without growth you will continue to build invisible walls of communication within your relationship. Both sides have positive and negative traits, but the key is to be in constant pursuit of balance. Balance equips you with the best of both worlds and sets you up to handle future conflict working as a team for both parties to express themselves respectfully and resolving the conflict lovingly.
Step 2: Ask God For Wisdom (James 1:5)
When dealing with conflict it is always necessary to seek God for wisdom on how to handle the situation properly. Because we are human, often we allow our flesh to overrule our faith. This causes us to react towards situations rather than respond to them. When we react to situations it brings about back and forth bickering which open the door for using trigger words that we know will set off our partner. The difference between reacting and responding is that reacting is to act first then think, while responding is to think first then act. By responding to situations of conflict it allows you to breathe and then act from a place of maturity and love. A major key with using Godly wisdom in conflict situations is controlling your tone. With dialogue you have little to no control over how your message is received but 100% control on how it is presented. So, when in conflict be sure to maintain your tone and body language so that you’re significant other doesn’t feel that you are attacking them, but rather presenting your perspective from a place a peace and love.
Step 3: Begin With What’s My Fault (1 John 1:8)
When dealing with conflict it is always a great idea to present where you may have been wrong first before expressing the faults of the other person. What this does is shows that you understand that you played a role in the situation and are not free from blame. This is also a great representation of your maturity level, because a mature individual can often recognize where they are at fault. So, when in a conflict, begin by expressing your personal fault and possibly following up with an “I am sorry that I was only thinking of myself”. This position once again shows your humility and honestly puts your partner in a position of comfort towards dealing with the situation.
Step 4: Listen For Understanding And Respond (Proverbs 1:5)
In order for you to understand the positioning and the perspective of someone else, you have to look beyond who they are now and look at how they became that person. Misunderstandings cause many arguments in relationships and it’s simply because in conflict we neglect listening which causes us to overlook the fact that everyone has a different upbringing and background. This fact is why everyone has different perspectives and reasoning. This is why it is so important to communicate and actually listen in relationships. Through proper communication comes the truth of who we are, how we think, and why we think the way that we think. Knowing this gives understanding and with understanding comes the opportunity to see past the situation and in turn frame our responses in a way that can be received properly by our partner.
Step 5: Fix The Problem Not The Person (Matthew 7:3-5)
Often time in the heat of conflict the focus switches from fixing the problem to fixing the person. If you are in a conflict attempting to fix the person rather than the problem at hand, you are promoting your blindness and overlooking the parts of you that have played a role in the conflict. It is very necessary to understand that as human beings we do not have the power to progress or perfect someone else. We only have the power to influence progression. When dealing with conflict be sure to keep the focus on dealing with the issue at hand rather than pointing out the list of flaws of the other person. Taking the position of listing the flows of the other person gives off the idea that you know what perfection looks like which is a great example of your personal imperfection. So, let’s focus on fixing the problems rather than the person with the problem, because in all actuality both sides are flawed.
Step 6: Focus On Reconciliation Of The Relationship (2 Corinthians 5:18-21)
In life it is a given that we will have disagreements. Because we know this, we must make sure that when dealing with them our focus is solely on the reconciling of the relationship. Pride and arrogance are two ingredients in diminishing relationships, so when faced with conflict throw them out the window. It is necessary when experiencing conflicts to ask yourself the question, “is me being right more important than the feelings of my significant other or the progression of my relationship?” This question is so important because your true answer will be reflected through your actions and in turn determine the success or failure of the relationship. If you’re true answer is the feelings of your significant other and the progression of your relationship then make the necessary compromises and changes needed to bring the relationship that you dream about to fruition. Don’t forget, Jesus had to die for us to be reconciled back to Christ, so for reconciliation to happen in your relationship a little dying to self will be necessary as well.
Even though conflict is experienced in all relationships, that doesn’t mean it has to be a bad thing. Conflict allows you to see how each of you handle tough situations and provides an opportunity for you and your significant other to grow closer. The key is making sure that you take control of what you deposit within yourself. As people we are like banks. For our whole lives we have been making depots within ourselves by what we allow our 5 senses to experience. Just like with a bank, what’s deposited can and majority of the time will be withdrawn. The situations that we find ourselves in are the true test of seeing what we have deposited within ourselves especially in moments of conflict. Because of this, it is necessary for you yourself to deposit fruitful qualities such as meekness, patience, kindness, humbleness and love within yourself so that when dealing with conflict those qualities are the only ones that are able to be withdrawn.