This post is Part 2 continuing our look at leading through conflict. Please read previous posts for context.
One of the least acknowledged issues we as leaders face when attempting to walk others through the pain of conflict is the personal impact of other’s conflict on our own emotions.
How often have you felt yourself becoming frustrated or angry with the very person you’re trying to help? It is common. What’s not common is a healthy response to those feelings. That’s why I challenge leaders to reframe or think differently about their role. It begins with understanding Carefrontation opposed to Confrontation. As you engage the conflict, remind yourself of God’s perspective: Relationship always supersedes the circumstances.
When you sense your frustration level rising, simply pause to ask for the Spirit to calm your heart, clear your agenda, and work His will through you.
Carefrontation is a term coined to set the stage for engaging appropriately. The negative baggage associated with the concept of confrontation requires a different approach. Your attitude will determine whether the person experiences care or walks away feeling conned. Carefrontation is your opportunity to speak truth in such a way that the individual not only hears your concern, but feels the compassion in which you express it.
As you can imagine, this is no easy task! Here are a few pointers on creating an atmosphere of carefrontation:
– Prepare your posture, positioning, and presence to reflect a welcoming and warm interaction. Smile. Lean slightly forward when listening, keep your eye contact consistent with the person who is talking. Especially keep eye contact when talking; shifty eyes send an unsettling message.
– Craft your words with intentionality. As you are led by the Spirit in speaking into the situation, be gentle with what is said and how it is stated. Steer away from words that communicate blame, cynicism, sarcasm, and coarseness. Rather, speak life into the other person with encouragement in a tone just under the tone of the other person.
-Acknowledge what is said by affirming you’ve heard them rather than affirming the appropriateness or inappropriateness of what they have stated.
-Follow a process that allows those in conflict to walk away with a sense of being heard. The process I use is one established through Peacemaker Ministries and can be found with many other useful resources at their website here.
Finally, in order to engage appropriately, leaders must put their presumptions of fixing the conflict aside. Trust The Lord to move in hearts and remember you are there to serve well.
In our next post, we will look at the R in the S.E.R.V.A.N.T. acrostic… Reaffirm the Goal.