(Post 4 of series)
Value the person, vent the issues.
This one concept, when practiced, can revolutionize the way those in conflict respond to your leadership! Everybody wants to be heard and those in conflict want their agenda to be validated, supported, and adhered to in order for the issue to be resolved. And therein lies the problem. When two or more in conflict expect their agendas to win out over others, it is a recipe for conflict. As a leader, your role is not to determine who is right and who is wrong, but to provide the perspective of what is right. Here a few tips on navigating the choppy waters of expectations and agendas:
– Separate the person from the behaviors.
What a person does points to who they are bringing to the conflict. Some behaviors are flesh driven and others ares influenced by the Spirit. Teachable moments happen in this space of connecting knowledge to understanding. You can reinforce a persons identity in Christ by simply reminding them that what they did in the conflict either agrees or disagrees with who they are. Allow them to come to an understanding by asking questions that lead them to a deeper grasp of the true battle between their flesh and the Spirit. What they did is tied to one of those two influences. Separate the person from the behavior in order to evaluate and correct any false meanings they’ve attached to their agenda.
– Find character traits that affirm the persons worth.
Often in the heat of conflict and the chaos of conversation, an individual will become frustrated and flustered because they have an overwhelming sense to be right. Good leadership will take those moments and affirm the person which in turn underscores the value of pursuing peace. Affirm those traits that reflect Christlike attributes which will move the conversation toward solution. If you sense the individual is stuck on making sure their point is heard, pull them back from a myopic view into a more eternal perspective which reminds them of their worth regardless of the current situation. Who they will be when they walk out is not dependent upon an agreement over this conflict. Their worth is defined by whose they are, not what they’ll accomplish in this meeting.
– Speak to issues matter of fact with tact and respect.
One of the most difficult pieces of communication is the biblical command to “speak the truth in love”. Many people can speak the truth and many people can speak in love, but not many can do both. Here’s a simple way to model for people how to do it. To speak the truth in love; affirm the relationship, say what needs to be said, and then affirm the relationship again. When something needs to be said, just say it with tact and respect. Crouching the truth between relational affirmations creates an environment where people can hear the needed perspective.
– Ask questions to help the individual come to appropriate conclusions regarding issues.
Have you noticed how Jesus responded from the throngs of people down to the intimate conversations with individuals? He asked intentional, provocative questions in order to guide and teach. We as leaders are wise to follow this proven method especially in working with those in conflict. You will undoubtedly see the issue long before the individual picks up on it. To serve them well, lead them to their own conclusion by asking intentional and at times provocative questions. Focus your questions on the open ended, introspective type of “how”, “why”, and “what” questions that require the person to look at their personal responsibility in the conflict.
In the next post, we will learn how to Acknowledge the hurt, the fears, and the hope.