Leading Well Through Conflict: Defusing Tensions

COU_084One of the greatest fears of leaders being asked to engage conflict is the concern that “things will get out of hand”. Some leaders shy away from entering into a place of great ministry out of fear of the emotions brought by those in conflict.

Here are a five tools to use when emotions get high in the midst of conflict:

1. Pause for prayer. When parties are so intense and voices get raised, call a time out and ask them to join you in prayer. This reminds them of the spiritual significance to working through their conflict. Pray for wisdom, discernment, and for godly communication.

2. Silence is OK. Sometimes parties will withdrawal from conversation for any number of reasons. They express themselves by passively letting comments hang in the air as if to make a point. Allow silence. Use it to your advantage by allowing the silence to speak for you.

3. Refocus on Purpose. When emotions are high, that’s a sign that what is being discussed is of great importance. Take their comments to draw them back to why they are adamant that they make their point. Ask open ended questions to bring them back.

4. Let God Speak. It’s always appropriate to ask parties to read a passage of Scripture that gives them God’s perspective on their issue. When emotions are high, the time is ripe to invite God into the discussion.

5. Affirm Relationships. A statement like “It’s obvious this issue is important to you.” can validate the person. Be cautious that you’re not validating their position, but rather their person.

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