May 182011
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How do you handle conflict? Do you explode and say things you don’t mean only to regret it later? Do you shut down and not speak to the offender for days or weeks? The way you handle conflict can define your relationships.   Here are 7 tips to help resolve anger and conflict.

1. Talk to God before talking to the other person. Pray for Gods help before gossiping to friends. Often you will find God changes your heart or the other persons with no help from you. I love what author Rick Warren says “ventilate vertically”. Don’t vent to friends – vent to God. He can handle it and he has the power to change it. No one else has that kind of power so why not go to him first?

 2.  Take the initiative. It’s ok if you’re always the one to try and make amends. It doesn’t matter if you are the offender or the offended, make the first move. Plan a time when you’re both at your best and talk. Don’t wait until late at night when the kids are in bed and you’re both exhausted. Get a sitter if necessary.

3. Listen. Even if you were the one wronged, listen to the other person’s feelings. Focus on their feelings and intentions not the facts. Let the other person unload emotionally without getting defensive. Let them know you understand even if you don’t agree. Most of the time feelings are not true or logical, but we still have them. We all act horrible when we feel hurt. Patience comes from wisdom and wisdom comes from others perspectives. Listening tells the other person you care about them. They won’t listen to you unless they know you care. It is a huge sacrifice to absorb other people’s anger especially if it’s unfounded. But remember, Jesus did it for us and we can do it for others to show them we care.

4. Admit your own part in the conflict. You may need the help of a trusted friend to see what part you played. Also ask God to show you your part. The way you handle a conflict sometimes creates more of a problem than the conflict itself. When you quickly admit your mistake, it usually diffuses the situation quickly. Don’t make excuses or shift blame, just admit the mistake and ask for forgiveness.

5. Concentrate on the problem not the blame. Any time you’re resolving conflict, how you say something is just as important as what you say. If you say something offensively, it will be received defensively. You can’t be persuasive while being abrasive. So cut out the sarcasm, insults, complaining, labeling, condescending, belittling and condemning.

6. Be cooperative. Peace usually has a price tag. Sometimes it costs us our time, our pride or our self centeredness. It’s ok to give those up sometimes. Try your best to compromise and adjust to what others need. That doesn’t mean be a doormat, but giving in occasionally and putting others ahead of ourselves is a virtue.

7.  Agree to disagree. You don’t have to agree with everyone all the time. You can disagree about things and still had a wonderful relationship. When you focus on the relationship and not the disagreement, the problem may become insignificant and often irrelevant. This doesn’t mean give up on finding a solution. You may still need a lot more discussion, just do it harmoniously with the focus on the relationship not the problem.

Give people time and space to change, accept them as they are and love them anyway. No one is perfect. People will hurt you. It’s a part of being human. It’s all about how you handle the hurt and conflict that can make all the difference in your relationships. Always assume the best in people. The ones you love are the ones that hurt and anger you the most. Remember they love you too and they are hurting too. Otherwise they wouldn’t be acting that way.

 Please share your thoughts with me by leaving a comment on this post.

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