Conflict is inevitable. It is not our intention to cause friction but leadership, by its own rite, will have disagreements, varied opinions and even abrupt disapproval. People are people and will always be people. People who know people will collide with people.
We may not have the ability to avoid conflict but we do have the ability to subdue conflict. Let’s look at Seven Steps to Subdue Conflict:
Communicate Carefully Thoughtless words quickly turn against us. Carefully chosen words can be the most influential method of avoiding undue criticism and conflict. To stir up conflict because of our negative tones, overbearing demands and blatant arguments are unnecessary. Weigh out your words, carefully think it out and in difficult situations, check your statement with someone else to get their opinion.
Affirmation In negative environments it may seem impossible to give affirmation to an offending party but it can be done. “Before we begin our discussion, I would like to say how much I appreciate the hard work of X in our Children’s Department last Friday, the decorations were excellent and I commend you.” This affirmation can cool off the hot heads, catch the opposition totally off guard and may quell the conflict to a point.
Stick With The Facts Conflict only gets worse when you neglect to solve the problem and it becomes a personal assault. A personal attack is the most difficult of all conflicts. We should resolve early in the disagreement, it is not Bob’s problem or Sally’s problem – it is A problem. Shred gossip with facts, dismiss fairy tales, silence all lies and stick with the facts. Stay on course with the issue without naming individuals – most often, people will rally around a truth before they will rally against a person.
Attitude is Everything When everyone has lost their cool they have already lost the argument. Stay cool. Dismiss any illogical thoughts of gaining ground by raising your voice. A quiet, calm steady voice may not win the argument but it will win people. Claim meekness but never intimidation. My friend, Jim Durham states, “Your convictions combined with your humility may even attract others to your viewpoint.” Stand firm with a right spirit. “I know where I stand, I know what I believe and I can do it with the right spirit.”
Negotiate Some may think compromise in any position is a sign of weakness but negotiation to an agreed position is a sign of mature leadership, not weakness. You have the power to create a win-win situation by a carefully and well planned strategy. Again, Jim Durham suggests, “Be willing to compromise on nonessentials… Let go of what isn’t important.” Performing under pressure doesn’t necessarily means “someone blows up,” but actually the opposite – performing under pressure keeps someone from blowing up. When we try to demeanor a person(s) until all submit to a strong leadership style you may have subjects but you won’t have disciples.
Respect Before meeting with antagonistic opposition set the ground rules. Let’s suggest a few.
• “The meeting will begin at 7:00 and will end by 8:30. If we aren’t finished with business we will set another time as soon as possible.” Then look each person in the eye and ask if they agree before the meeting begins. This gives the meeting STRUCTURE.
• “We will respect everyone in the room. No name calling, raising our voice or expressions of anger will be tolerated or that person will be asked to leave the room.” Then look each person in the eye and ask if they agree before the meeting begins. This gives the meeting SANCTITY
• “We will stick with the problem and stick with the facts. Gossip and hearsay will not be allowed and personal attacks will not be tolerated – we are here to discuss the major problem not personality problems.” Then look each person in the eye and ask if they agree before the meeting begins. This gives the meeting STABILITY
With looking each person in the eye and asking for agreement you are building consensus and a mutual feeling of respect for everyone in the room. It is essential for a leader to respect people – even when they disagree. A mature leader will never lower their integrity to the oppostitions lack of it.
Pray Personally I believe we should pray before and after the meeting and occasionally the leader may want to bring the group to prayer in the heat of the meeting. Pray for wisdom, respect, brotherly love and God’s purpose be fulfilled in the meeting.
Personally, the leader must find a secret place with God and pray for wisdom, understanding and the presence of God. Oswald Chambers writes, “The reason the battle is not won is because I try to win it in the external world first. Get alone with God, fight it out before Him, settle the matter there once and for all.”
You won’t always win everyone and you won’t always win in every conflict but walking away with a clear conscience is the major win of all.
Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal, counselling or professional advice.