The ABC’s of Conflict Resolution

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I was ticked! I admit it. For some bizarre reason my wife doesn’t always think the way I do. I had no question in my mind that she was wrong, but the decision was now mine. What to do with the situation? Should I continue to sulk and steam, or perhaps lash out in anger? Or would there be a more loving way for me to deal with my hurt and frustration?

Each of us faces similar decisions on a regular basis with a variety of relationships. In most cases we don’t recognize that a decision is being made. We’re just offended or hurt or angry or all of the above. As a result we simply do what comes naturally and in most circumstances what comes naturally only makes matters worse.

Over the next 3 weeks I’ll highlight a few ABC’s of conflict resolution. They really are fundamental in their essence, but unfortunately too often we still attend preschool when it comes to dealing with interpersonal conflicts.

Attitude – The manner and heart with which we approach relationship conflicts can have a huge impact on the outcome of the circumstances. If it’s all about me, reconciliation will be elusive. A primary goal should be to deal with our personal hurts and frustrations in a manner that honors God and benefits others involved. If we care more about our rightness than our relationships, we are in trouble.

Sometimes emotions run high and it’s best to take a little time to cool off to avoid saying something regrettable. Each situation with each person is unique, and so contributing factors need to be weighed in choosing the appropriate time to proceed.

It’s also critical to take some time to consider the other individual’s perspective and to see if perhaps there was something you did or said to hurt or offend the other person. We all have a tendency to magnify the faults of others while minimizing our own missteps.

Depending on the seriousness of the situation, fasting is one of the most powerful things you can do to help bring resolution. Yes, you read me right—fasting—as in not eating food.

I have found great value in skipping a meal or two and taking the time to seek God’s face through prayer and the Scriptures. When I come before God in my weakness, everything begins to come into perspective. Inevitably I find myself confessing my sins before God and something miraculous takes place. My heart begins to soften and my attitude toward the other person starts to change. As a result I’m better able to communicate with gentleness and graciousness.

I realize that such an approach makes for a radical departure from our natural way of doing things, but we are not called to be a natural people. I think that the divorce rate among professing Christians would drop dramatically if we took a more supernatural approach that welcomes and invites God to work in our circumstances.

If we would only be willing to first search our own hearts and humble them before God, we will find our interpersonal relationships to be much richer and far longer lasting.

One other tip–when you fast and pray about a relationship conflict, you may want to eat before talking with the person.