Conflict – What Good is It?

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Most people don’t like conflict, but it doesn’t have to be all bad. In fact, there is much good that can come out of conflict if you know a healthy process to work through it like PLEDGEtalk and keep the following three opportunities in mind:

1. Conflict is an opportunity to grow in your understanding of others.

Saying we all want to be understood is like saying we all need air to breathe. Every time we speak, we’re looking for those who will listen and understand us. But how often are we sure to return the favor when listening to someone who wants us to understand them? Listening to understand is even more rare for us to practice when we are in conflict.

Think of the last time you experienced tension with someone you care about. There was a reason he or she was upset. Do you know the reason? Or let me say it this way: are you ONE HUNDRED PERCENT sure you know the reason? If not, then there is more to learn and more to understand. Position yourself to remain in the listening mode, and ask the person you are speaking with to explain their perspective on what happened. Beware of your eagerness to share rather than listen. Work hard at staying focused on what the other is saying. Take time to draw them out even further, by using phrases like: “Can you tell more more?” or “Help me understand what you mean by ______”

When you make time to focus on the other, you will learn and discover more about them and what took place causing the tension. This will go a long way in helping to resolve any conflict AND prevent it from starting up again.

2. Conflict is an opportunity for personal refinement – becoming a better person.

If there is one thing I know about me, it’s that I haven’t arrived yet. If I live until I am 99, I have no doubt I will still have room to grow. Daily I see areas in my life I would like to see changed. When in a conflict with my wife or children, those areas come to light even more.

My daughter asks if I would stop what I am doing when she is talking to me so she knows I am listening. I chide myself for her having to ask. I know better. It is the very thing I teach others to do!

My son challenges me to think through the fears I experience when he and I talk about stressful subjects. Ugh! Why am I afraid? I help people to work through their fears, and here I am held up by mine.

My wife is trying to help me on a project and I get short with her because she keeps interrupting my work on a separate project. Why am I am so impatient at times like these?

Rarely am I in tension with another where I don’t also experience an opportunity for personal refinement. Will you keep in mind until you die, that there are still areas in your life that need to change so you become a better spouse, parent, or friend? Will you take time to reflect on where you might be wrong, and what areas of change God might want to be revealing to you? Will I do the same?

3. Conflict is an opportunity to practice respect and love for others.

There is a proverb that says: “Starting a quarrel is like opening a floodgate, so stop before a dispute breaks out” Proverbs 17:14 (NIV). The next time you find yourself at odds with your spouse or a friend, STOP!

Now think: do you really want to talk to them in a hurtful way like that? Do you really want to scorn and shame them with your tone? Doing so may feel good at the moment, but will only lead to damaging your relationship.

You stand at a crossroads. You can default back to how you normally handle conflict, or you can do something different and show respect and love in how you relate. That “something” will look different in each situation. Start with working on your listening skills as previously mentioned. Maybe you need to humble yourself and apologize for the way you were speaking or what you said. Maybe you need to let go of something and forgive. Perhaps you both need to take some time apart to cool down and pray, asking God to show you your part in what went wrong. I know that’s not easy – but it is right and good. Ask God to change your heart and bring it in line with His.

Seize the opportunity to practice respect and love by choosing to do what is right rather than just what feels good. It is a must for growing healthy relationships.

What else would be helpful to keep in mind when we find ourselves at odds with our spouse or friend? Leave a comment below:

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