Conflict happens when we find ourselves at odds over opposing views. When conflict is not dealt with properly, it can cause strife and/or discord between people. Many arguments and even altercations have been caused by escalating conflict. So today, I want to share three principles to deescalate conflict and resolve disagreements.
The first principle for dealing with conflict is vertical venting. Vertical venting simply means talk to God before you talk to them. Vertical venting is all about expressing to God your feelings and asking him to search your heart before you approach the person. Tell God how they made you feel. Whether your interaction with that person left you angry, hurt, ignored or disrespected, let God know exactly how you feel. 1 Peter 5:7 suggest, “Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” I’m a living witness that when you give it to God, He will tell you exactly how to address the conflict. Sometimes He will tell you to overlook a minor offense, while at other times he will tell you to confront the issue in Christian love.
The second principle for dealing with conflict is attacking the problem, not the person. I think the world, in general, could do a much better job at this principle. It has been my experience that personal attacks always prove to be ineffective in resolving conflict. Primarily because personal attacks leave emotional scars and cause people to go on the defensive. Once people are feeling attacked, they either shut down or lash out. Neither of which are healthy ways to deal with conflict. The Bible says it like this in Proverbs 21:23, “He who guards his mouth and tongue, keeps himself from trouble.” In other words, during our heated debates, we have to stay focused on the problem, not the person.
The third principle for dealing with conflict is acknowledging that everyone has a perspective. And the truth of the matter is none of our perspectives are always 100% right. In fact, none of us are experts in every subject matter. We also all have our personal preferences and bias that often influence our opinion. Therefore, we have to concede that at times, others are right and we are wrong. Proverbs 18:13 offers this bit of advice, “He who answers before listening – that is his folly and his shame.” That is to say, we should never judge a book by its cover. We should never make assumptions about people before we take the time to hear their heart.
Yes, conflict happens when we find ourselves at odds over opposing views. But conflict doesn’t have to end in strife or discord between people. As long as we follow the principles of vertical venting, attacking the problem not the person, and acknowledging that everyone has a perspective we should be able to deescalate conflict and resolve most disagreements. I leave you today with words of Paul found in Romans 12:18, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”