Principles of Conflict Resolution

Jay BransfordConflict Management, Leadership Messages, Shared Leadership0 Comments

Conflict Rocks

By Jim Randall

10 Steps to Resolve Conflict

The following principles will help you resolve conflict between yourself and others or between staff members.  Begin by going on a fact finding mission.  Allow the Holy Spirit to precede you without having pre-conceived ideas.

  1. Change your thinking. Anger is a secondary emotion and happens when a belief system has been violated.  You believe that people should always do what they agree to do.  When they don’t carry out your request, you have an opportunity to become angry.  Confrontation usually means a face to face encounter with a hostile situation.  All emotions involved are negative and filled with stress, anxiety, anger, separation and hostile feelings.  It creates avoidance (procrastination).  Resolution on the other hand means to resolve the problem and create peace, acceptance and restoration.  It is not about conflict but adding value to people through Coaching, Teaching, Training, Mentoring, Problem Solving and Communication which will bring them to a higher level of competency.  Positive feelings bring growth and change.  Not discussing a problem is a form of disrespect.
  1. You must choose the right Timing. NEVER put yourself in a position where you must make a decision “NOW.”  You will probably react in the flesh if you do it too soon but are more likely to act in the Spirit if you wait for the right timing.  Don’t deal with a problem when you are angry or you will turn it into conflict and confrontation.  Don’t procrastinate but deal with it before it gets worse or hurts others.  If you wait, you send a negative message that they or the issue is not important.  Ephesians 4:36 says, “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger” but actually resolving the conflict the next day can be OK.
  1. You must create a Safe Haven for meaningful communications. If a person feels safe and secure, they will be more likely to share what’s on their heart.  The four basic ingredients for good communication are:
    1. Ask Questions
    2. Listen with your heart
    3. Create a Safe Harbor (environment) where they feel free to talk.
    4. Honesty – They must feel that they can share with you without fear of you re-acting.
  1. Ask Questions
    1. To get the facts from their perspective.
    2. Learn their motivation, where their heart is.
    3. Allows you to relax and view the session as a fact finding session.
    4. Don’t ask questions that are in an accusing way.
    5. The highest form of respect is to ask people what they think.

Sample questions:

1. Joe, help me understand what happened yesterday. (no accusing, blaming or ridiculing)

2. If Joe is repentant, ask additional questions.

3. Ask open ended questions to get to the root of the problem; not yes & no answers.

  1. Listen to the answer. Force yourself to listen with your heart and five things will become clear.
    1. What you (or they) said.
    2. What you meant to say.
    3. What they heard you say.
    4. What they say about what they heard you say.
    5. What you say about what they heard you say.

Let them talk and share everything that is on their mind.  Criticism is OK but not disrespect.  Don’t let them or yourself be disrespectful.

  1. Maintain respect and dignity – allow for opportunity to save face.
  1. Identify the issues. Move from the past (mistake) to the present (identifying the issue that remains) and onto the future (resolution). 
  1. Establish expectations. Create an atmosphere of resolution and restoration.  Let them know what you expect from this moment on.
  1. Understanding – Make sure they understand by getting confirmation of what you expect in the future. Don’t ask if they understand what you said but rather get them to repeat back what they heard you say.  Ask them to respond to any requests you make.
  1. Create Options. Try to create multiple choices or options to explore so that people don’t feel stuck or backed into a corner.  And make sure that you are comfortable accepting each option if it’s truly being offered as a possible choice.

Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you that in Me you will have peace.  In the world (and in ministry) you will have tribulation (thlipsis – meaning pressure) but be of good cheer (tharseo – have courage), I have overcome the world.”  Jesus wants us to be at peace and have courage to face conflict with the confidence that He has a solution that leads to peace.