Conflict is a part of life.
You will be misunderstood.
Someone will get offended.
I will say something foolish.
You will forget a deadline that causes a business disaster.
(Add your examples here.)
I love what Marshall Shelly said,
Often we think, “If I just ignore the problem, it might go away.” However, most problems that require confrontation do not go away. They are infections: if we ignore them, they get worse. Soon that nagging pain in one toe becomes blood poisoning.
Mark Gerzon’s article on the Harvard Business Review, he says that to resolve a conflict, first decide: Is it hot or cold?
This is how he distinguished the two:
Hot conflict is when one or more parties are highly emotional and doing one or more of the following: speaking loudly or shouting; being physically aggressive, wild or threatening; using language that is incendiary; appearing out of control and potentially explosive.
Cold conflict is when one or more parties seem to be suppressing emotions, or actually appear “unemotional,” and are doing one or more of the following: muttering under their breath or pursing their lips; being physically withdrawn or controlled; turning away or otherwise deflecting contact; remaining silent or speaking in a tone that is passively aggressive; appearing shut down or somehow frozen.
If the conflict is hot: You don’t want to bring participants in a hot conflict together in the same room without settings ground rules that are strong enough to contain the potentially explosive energy.
If the conflict is cold: You can usually go ahead and bring the participants or stakeholders in the conflict together, engaging them in constructive communication. That dialogue, if properly facilitated, should “warm up” the conflict enough so that it can begin to thaw out and start the process of transformation.
Chuck Lawless, Dean and Vice-President of Graduate Studies and Ministry Centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, NC suggests that we need to ask some questions when dealing with conflict. Allow me to share some of the questions he lists down to help us determine how much energy we are to devote to the issue at hand.
1. Will this issue matter a year from now?
2. How many people are truly opposed?
3. What does the Bible say?
4. Do I need to involve others in my decision-making process?
5. What’s the worst thing that can happen here, and can I live with that possibility?
6. Can I put this fire out with a squirt gun (or even a bucket)?
7. Have I prayed about my response?
But however you may approach the conflict, remember what Paul the apostle said in Ephesians 4:3, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
May the Lord give us the wisdom to keep the unity for it is good and pleasant for God’s people to dwell in unity. (Psalm 133)