No one likes it. We all try to avoid it, but conflict will creep into all our lives and ministries from time to time. It's not pleasant, but it is something that happens. How we react to conflict says a lot more about us than we often realize, so it is important that we handle it well. Below are a few techniques that I've gleaned and used from various sources and workshops. It's not a foolproof plan for stopping conflict, but hopefully it helps me deal with it in a Christ like manner.
When a person is upset with you:
Take the situation to your Heavenly Father first and foremost. Pray for guidance in how to resolve the situation that has presented itself.
2) Talk to your Pastor
I have always found discussing situations with my Senior Pastor very helpful before I begin to deal with a conflict. There are sometimes things going on that I may not be aware of that could change the way I deal with the situation. He or She is the Shepherd of the church and getting their council is always an important step to dealing with conflict.
3) Meet directly with the person who is upset
Avoiding the situation rarely makes it better and often makes the problem worse. So, when you hear of an issue, meet with the person who has the issue directly.
4) Do not meet with them alone
You need a third person in the room. It is too easy for conversations to become "he said, she said" when it is just two people alone. The third person should not necessarily take part in the conversation, but should be there to listen to both sides. Your Pastor or a Board Member would be a good choice for this.
5) Listen to them.
Sometimes conflict can be sorted out and dealt with simply by hearing out the person who is upset. Don't interrupt them. Let them fully tell you what is bothering them. Once you truly understand what the problem is, it can be dealt with easier.
6) Don't get angry or show offense
It's not fun to be yelled at or have something important to you torn a part by the words of someone else, but stay calm. The person who is upset will have difficulty staying that way, if you simply do not reciprocate their anger. And if they do not calm down, they probably will not hear what you have to say anyway, so let them vent...then calmly respond to what they have said. Trust me when I say that this is NOT easy, but in my experience, it is the best way to deal with someone who is truly angry about something. After they have told you what it is they are upset about, an appropriate beginning response might be something to the effect of, "Thank you for sharing that with me. I was unaware of the situation and I will be glad to look into it. I'm so sorry it has upset you in this way. Is there anything else you feel I should know?"
7) Don't feed the rumor mill
Along with conflict, rumors often begin to circulate. Make sure they do not start or continue with you. When I need to deal with conflict, it is my policy that no one in my church outside the situation at hand needs to know about the situation. If it affects someone else, then they only need to know up to what it necessary for them to know. For example, if "Martha" decides, due to a conflict, that she is not going to work in Children's Ministry any longer, then my Children's Ministry Team needs only to know from me that Martha is stepping down and we will need to replace her position. The details of the situation do not need to be made known unless they are brought up...and even then, give as little information as possible. Be truthful always, but unless it is truly warranted, details are rarely necessary. And when possible, squash the rumors you hear.
There is no "one size fits all" resolution format when it come to conflict. It comes in too many forms and fashions. The only thing you can truly control is how you will respond to it. These things have been helpful for me, I hope they will be for you as well.
Until next week!