How to Resolve Conflicts

Conflict resolution is simply transformational.

Conflict resolution is simply transformational.

This photo makes my heart race… and I don’t even have a conflict with this lady in red!

Conflicts are daily occurrences. Maybe not rising to the intensity of angry lady-in-red…but, they are never pleasant.

Learning to resolve conflicts effectively will transform your life.

Apparently, finding a peaceful end to conflicts has become quite the focus of attention lately. There is now an association for conflict resolution, a journal of conflict resolution, and university programs for conflict resolution. Google search returns 56 million results for “conflict resolution”. Who knew??

The tragedy of unresolved conflict is well known. We have all been affected by the wide range of responses…from avoidance, gossip, ridicule, and family feuding to the extremes of legal action, violence, warfare, and even terrorism.

Why Resolve Conflicts?

It’s a very small world and it’s getting smaller every day. Never walk away from a relationship. Honestly. Unless it’s abusive, seek to preserve the relationship.

It’s important to resolve conflicts because they weigh heavy on our hearts and minds. Coming to a resolution will help you to sleep and to live a life that is not full of regret. Unresolved issues can be pushed aside for a while but inevitably return with all of the pain and burden as the initial confrontation.

Furthermore, Jesus was quite insistent about it! After he described how to resolve conflict (more on that in a couple paragraphs), one of his disciples asked “how many times shall I forgive my brother who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Seems like a lot, right? But no! Jesus’ responded, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

Wow.

What Prevents Conflict Resolution?

Forgiveness: both asking and receiving.

Roots of bitterness grow deep. We all know elderly people who are cruel and difficult to be around. They can itemize every wrong ever committed against them. Sadly, they continue living an unfulfilled life that is focused on themselves. Sad sad statement of their many decades on the planet. 

Forgiveness and grace in our lives are huge. We must recognize that others give us grace on a regular basis. When we do not extend grace to others, there is a certain amount of arrogance in our attitude toward the world. None of us are perfect…so, drop the facade!

Another factor that prevents conflict resolution is an unbalanced concern for personal needs and the needs of others. A healthy blend of assertiveness and empathy plays a critical role in the relationships in our lives.

Resolving the Conflict:

First, go. With prayer undergirding your words, meet with the person with whom you are having the conflict. Do not tell the story to your friends. Do not tweet about it. Do not dwell on it for days and weeks and (horrors) months. Go to the person.

Second, listen. Seek to understand the problem. Recognize that our various interests, personal agendas and underlying needs cause us to perceive conflicts differently.

Third, speak. With gentleness, explain your perspective. Have a genuine conversation to work through the issues of the conflict

Fourth, restore. The goal is restoration of the relationship. Hugs may not come just yet, but at least a handshake and nod would be good.

What if this does not work?? As recorded in Matthew 18:16, the next step is to return to the person and take one or two others along. The additional people offer outside perspective. With conversations seasoned with grace, hopefully resolution and understanding can be reached.

 What if there is still no resolution? The passage in Matthew (18:17) continues and states that you are now responsible to take the conflict to your church and the leadership. If it’s at work, take the issue to managers or people of authority who can help you resolve it. If with family, bring the conflict before the larger group of family members. The bottom line is: do everything in your ability to bring resolution. 

Your Turn

1) Check out this article on styles of handling conflict (including competitive, collaborative, compromising, accommodating, and avoiding.) Recognizing your usual mode will help you approach your next conflict in a more mature and healthy manner.

2) Is there someone with whom you are in conflict? Prayerfully consider how you will approach him or her to begin resolution.

Posted by Sharon R. Hoover

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About Sharon R Hoover

Serving the church for over twenty years in discipleship and mission ministries, I've walked alongside many people travelling and exploring the journey of faith. Add in my own crazy path and I hope my writing will offer glimpses of life worth sharing.
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4 Responses to How to Resolve Conflicts

  1. ron lazor says:

    Conflicts may not necessarily be a bad thing. And some conflicts are necessary. However, the conflict should not be with a person or persons, but with the issue or more specifically with the sin. In short continuously love the sinner, but hate the sin.

    • Great point, Ron! Conflicts do indeed spotlight our differences. When left unresolved, the issues return over and over …often with increasing tension. If only we would all be able to care for one another with love and enough respect to address these differences as they each arise!

  2. Excellent post Sharon. I see the world around me and people are becoming more and more self-centred… Guess what. It’s infections. It takes conscious, and in some situations, continuous, effort to respond differently. 🙂

    • So true! We do indeed need to be intentional and diligent. It is much easier to avoid the struggle in a relationship but the hard work toward resolution is ultimately a huge blessing!

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