While we as a nation continue to navigate our way through difficult conversations such as politics and racism, I thought that it would be wise to revisit the subject of conflict resolution. As I shared in a previous article on June the 12, 2020, “conflict happens when we find ourselves at odds over opposing views.” Today, I want to share with you three tips that will help you settle a dispute in a productive manner. I call them the three T’s of conflict resolution.
The first (T) in conflict resolution is Timing. I tell people over and over again that timing is everything. The Bible states in Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7b: “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven: (7b) …A time to be silent and a time to speak.” According to scripture, we have to know when to speak up and when to remain silent. When teaching married couples how to better handle disputes, I encourage them to never begin a difficult conversation when either of them are in a rush, extremely tired, or in a public setting. Why? Because when someone is in a rush it is difficult to focus. When you are extremely tired, it is difficult to think clearly and not be irritable. And when you are in a public setting it is difficult to be fully transparent. Please remember, timing is important when it comes to conflict resolution.
The second (T) in conflict resolution is Tone. Always remember, your tone of voice matters to your audience. Life has taught me that it is not always WHAT you say, but rather HOW you express it that makes the difference in a heated discussion. The Bible says it best in Proverbs 15:1, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” We should never make a person feel as if we are yelling, attacking, or being condescending in our communication with them. Our tone of voice is important when it comes to conflict resolution.
The third and final (T) in conflict resolution is Temperature. When I talk about temperature, I am using it as a metaphor for our anger level. In a heated debate, we have to be cognizant of the anger level of all parties involved. Once we feel as though the conversation is becoming too heated, we need to quickly deescalate the situation. I like what the Bible says in Psalms 37:8, “Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret, it leads only to evil.” The scripture encourages us to press pause in the conversation anytime we feel our temperature rising to the point we may say or do something we would later regret. Our temperature is important when it comes to conflict resolution.
While we as a nation continue to navigate our way through difficult conversations such as politics and racism, I think it is our collective responsibility to help keep things civil. We can do that by paying close attention to our timing, tone, and temperature. I leave you with these words of wisdom found in Proverbs 16:32, “Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who take a city.” Blessings!!!