My friend was upset with me, but I didn’t know it. In the end, after I went away for some quiet time to myself, I found out in the worst way: a long, ranting, drawn out e-mail from her in which she escalated and attacked me. After a few days of withdrawing, I responded with a scathing e-mail that attacked and escalated even further. Was I embracing conflict or simply reacting to the situation at hand?
Embracing conflict is an important part of being a leader—whether you are leading in your home, at your job, or in your community. If you react, your retaliation may cause further damage. If you embrace, you can respond with humility. What are some ways you can respond to and embrace conflict instead of reacting to and retaliating in the midst of it? It comes back to keeping the main thing the main thing:
- Focus on the issue, not the person. Right now, you are saying, “But the issue IS the person!” The issue is rarely the person; the issue is usually how you are reacting to the person and how the person is reacting to the issue. Maybe they responded in a wrong way, but you do not have to react to their response. Instead, you should act on the issue at hand. Solve the problem, and the keep personal insults out of the mix. The issue with me and my friend was deeper than her e-mail; I was too selfish and immature then to realize or understand that.
- Quit trying to prove your point by proving that the other person is wrong. The issue is not who is right or wrong; the issue is the issue! Trying to prove someone else wrong exudes pride, not humility; selfishness, not teamwork. Proverbs 11:2 says, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Humble yourself in the midst of conflict. Do you want to be right or do you want to be well? Asking yourself this question in the midst of conflict will refocus you and reenergize your pursuit to embrace (and end) the conflict.
- Face-to-face, there’s no other way! With social media and the ease of communication today, we often e-mail, text, Facebook, tweet, Pin, or Google to air our grievances against one another. Or we choose to triangulate, telling another friend the issue instead of going to the source. Doing that shows very little emotional intelligence on our part. If you have a problem with someone, don’t post it for everyone to see (even if you leave out names) or talk behind someone’s back. Instead, do as the Bible tells us: when we have sinned against one another, find each other and talk it out. Exercise emotional intelligence. Go to the throne before you go to the phone! Then go to your friend and handle with grace.
Embracing conflict means handling conflict maturely: with humility, grace, and wisdom. If you’re seeking to be emotionally intelligent, you must model grace to others, even if you do not receive it in return.
What’s one way you embrace conflict in your life?