I’ve seen a lot of conflict in my life. From parents and couples in my office for counseling to employment situations where two people can’t get along. I’ve even seen a fight in the grocery store because someone thought someone else cut line.
As an observer, I’ve learned a few things about facing conflict. Primarily, I’ve observed that the way one person responds often determines the way the other person responds. That makes sense, doesn’t it?
When you are backed into a corner and facing potential conflict you can come out fighting, or you can be smart about it, plan your response, and help turn the situation for good.
In fact, the secrets of facing the fire of conflict should be elementary.
Here are 3 steps when backed into a corner:
Stop and think. What is the best approach? What do you really want to accomplish? Based on that, how should you respond? The opening moments are always critical in any conflict. You can quickly back someone or yourself into a corner. Cornered people move into a self-protection mode, fail to react rationally, and the sense of what’s best is lost. It requires practice, but take adequate time to plan the best way to approach the other party. It may require you being silent when you’re prone to speak, but this one step often avoids much of the unnecessary and unproductive conflict. (As an example, Jesus took time to make a whip before driving the money changers out of the temple-John 2)
Drop the right to win. When you come into a potential fiery situation with a have-to-win attitude you cloud your ability to work for the best results. Self-centeredness always gets in the way of healthy conflict. Be humble and agree that you are going to do what is best, even if that means you don’t get your way. This doesn’t mean you give in to the other party, but the goal in conflict should not be to win personally, but to reach the best solution for everyone.
Roll out the best approach. I realize it takes two or more people to make this happen, but when one party is willing to do the first two it makes accomplishing the best so much more likely. Go into every potential conflict with a humble desire for the best solution to be accomplished.
Avoid an unnecessary fire. Don’t come out swinging.
Stop, drop and roll.
Be honest, how are you at holding your tongue when needed?