Sunday, March 20, 2011

Managing Conflict

I guess this week has really brought me back to things I learned in my Communications courses. My professors would love to know that they taught me some of the most valuable life lessons that I will never forget.  Conflict is inevitable. It will be in every aspect of your life from personal to professional. No one can ever have complete understanding of someone else because you cannot physically put yourself into someone else’s shoes and thoughts. No matter how fabulous of a listener you are, there will always be different experiences or “noise (ie internal thoughts or external disturbances)” that will shape the way we perceive things. That’s why I try to live by the motto: “Never Assume, Verify.” Paraphrase what you heard in your own words to make sure you have achieved the greatest understanding possible. That also goes with assuming someone will react to something in a certain way; it never hurts to ask and verify that your assumption is correct.

For example, you know someone doesn’t like to go to the movies, but a large group is going. And instead of deciding yourself that that person would not like to go, ask anyway because there is a chance that they would feel highly left out and may have wanted to go to enjoy the good company regardless of their feelings about going to the movies. This is a very mediocre example, but one that happens in similar scenarios more than we know!

A lot of times we get upset about things and harbor them instead of going to the source of the conflict. A simple misunderstanding can be completely blown out of proportion because we create all these false assumptions in our heads and create something that doesn’t exist.  
For example, the person that was left out of the movies may start creating various scenarios for why the group doesn’t like him, which leads to pent up emotions that can lead to detrimental results. By asking if something was wrong and if they had left him or her out on purpose, it would have all boiled down to, “Oh I just ASSUMED you wouldn’t want to go; I’m sorry you missed the fun.”

It is so important to talk about things and clear them up.  It can be very problematic to hide hurt feelings especially when the person doesn’t give the source the opportunity to defend his or herself. The angry person may have turned the group into really bad people in his or her mind and maybe going as far as talking to other people about it or doing hurtful things in return when it was all just a simple misunderstanding that could have been avoided by....Not assuming and verifying ON BOTH ENDS! 

Conflict is not necessarily bad and can help us learn about each other and grow. It helps us see the world from others’ perspectives and teaches us how to avoid problems in the future. There are more effective ways to approach it though: 

First, don’t invalidate someone that has an issue. Just because someone has a problem over something that you wouldn’t, doesn’t take away his or her right to be hurt. Instead thank them for being considerate enough to approach you and want to fix the situation.

Do not get defensive, and take responsibility if you are in the wrong.

Use I statements versus you statements because pointing fingers causes people to get defensive…”I felt hurt when you said this” rather than “You really hurt me.”

Ask questions and be empathetic trying to really feel what the other person feels and see things from their perspective.

I could not have run into this Blog at a better time. These verses are such an eye-opener:
Seven Biblical Steps to Restoring Conflict
1. Talk to God before talking to the person [James 4:1-2]

2. Always take the initiative [Matthew 5:23-24]

3.Sympathize with their feelings [Philippians 2:4]

4. Confess your part of the conflict [Matthew 7:5]

5. Attack the problem, not the person [Proverbs 15:1]

6. Cooperate as much as possible [Romans 12:18]

7. Emphasize reconciliation, not resolution [1 Peter 3:11]

Hope I helped you to avoid conflict!!! 

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