Ep 2 - Dealing with Conflict

Reflective Exercises

 

1.     Try to get a tube of toothpaste. Then on a plate try to squeeze out all the paste inside until the tube is empty. Afterward, try to put back in all the paste you squeeze out with your hand. Its possible, but often time its messy and difficult. This exercise is to help us to realize, that spoken word, often time hard to be retracted. 

2.     The common misconception in dealing with conflict is by trying to explain yourself as much as you can in the attempt to convince the other party about you and/or your intention. However, often, a person’s ability to listen well provide a better outcome of a miscommunication.

3.     To be able to listen well, there are several practical steps you may want to explore and consider they are:

a.     Allow your communication partner to finish their sentence before drawing any conclusion, no matter how convinced you are that their opinion is incorrect/you disagree with it.

b.     Instead of responding to your interpretation of their message, paraphrase what you hear.

c.     Set your mind to understand your communication partner and not to correct them.

Transcript for EP 2 - Dealing with Conflict

Conflict is something that is unpleasant to many people. It’s often perceived as this invading force that will bring imbalance and chaos to our well-ordered life. Conflict often arises as a result of unhappiness over something we perceive was done to us or disagreement over how to handle matters. For some, conflict is seen as something terrible and to be avoided at all costs. The reality is, we cannot avoid conflict. So how does the Bible define conflict and how are we to deal with it?

In today's episode, we will explore this issue of conflict and discern insights from the Bible on how to deal with it appropriately and effectively. I am pastor Bayu, and this is A Quick Word on confronting conflict.

Conflict resolution is a skill that is learned through observation and practice. Often, you'll hear that "practice makes perfect". I would counter that by saying that "practice makes permanent". While proper training can improve our abilities, improper training will merely ingrain bad habits.

Children learn how to resolve conflicts by observing their parents. They pick up behaviour patterns by mimicking the ways their parents deal with conflict. However, the methods that applied may not always be the healthiest or even biblical. Under these circumstances, children end up gathering bad habits which have negative consequences in their adult life.

There are some common but unhealthy methods of conflict resolution. The first one is what we call "silent treatment". Individuals express their unhappiness by staying silent to gain the attention of the person they need recognition from. This can be a refusal to talk or respond to any attempts to start a conversation. The silent treatment is not only unhelpful, but it can also escalate the frustration of the other party and alienate them. If you're practising the silent treatment, there may be momentary feelings of justification and superiority, but silent treatments neither help nor solve anything. How can there be open and honest dialogue when one party refuses to talk?

Another common but unhealthy method of conflict resolution is to absorb and ignore — pretend nothing has happened. The hurt party, perhaps out of fear of being rejected or criticised, decides it's better not to talk about it and believes that given enough time, the problem will resolve on its own.  This is a dangerous presumption. While it is true that time is necessary for healing of wounds, the pre-condition is that the injury must first be addressed appropriately.  If you fell down the stairs, broke your arm then chose to pretend it never happened and not treat it properly, over time the pain would go away. But your arm will forever be damaged, and you will be the one who has to endure the consequences of living with a non-viable arm.

So, for those who adopt the Absorb and Ignore method, more often than not, they end up feeling victimised. Over time, they may frame themselves as a martyr for being willing to internalise the conflict into their own emotional pain.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have a direct confrontational method. These people approach the other party with unbridled and unprocessed anger. They demand a resolution often with an intimidating and aggressive manner and tone of voice. They may not always think they are right, but they think they can intimidate the other side to succumb to their solution through pressure. This is also not a healthy way of resolving a conflict.

So how does the Bible deal with conflict resolution? Interestingly enough, the Bible was filled with conflict. From the first book of Genesis to the last book of Revelation, disputes after dispute are continually being presented in almost every book of the Bible.

James 1:19 says “let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” This verse counsel us not to rush in to give our opinions, but to pay attention first to how the other party feels and listen first to their understanding of what hurt them. This is one of the most critical keys to conflict resolution. We need to pay attention first, to see the situation from the perspective of the other person, before coming to a conclusion. This wisdom is often being forgotten even by us, Christians. Let us be willing to listen and understand the other side before we can decide what will be the next steps.

The teaching of Apostle James was actually a direct quote from Jesus himself. Matthew 18:15, Jesus counselled those who are having conflict to resolve the issue through dialogue. Conflict cannot be solved by silent treatment nor through closed-minded, harsh debates or aggressive arguments.

Conflict resolution in a Biblical way can be summarised straightforwardly, Listen and Talk, Talk and Listen until both can come to an agreement.

So, the next time you are caught in conflict with someone, you may want to consider taking few steps before responding abruptly. First, ask yourself, have you heard the person communicating with you right? Second, have you done your part in solving the conflict rather than fuel the flame ever worse, and third, have you giving enough time for understanding the perspective of others no matter how disagree you are with them?

Trying to avoid conflict in our world today is like avoiding food in a buffet restaurant. It’s impossible. However, the Bible does provide us with some guidelines on how to solve it. It is up to us to be willingly and humbly apply it with the grace of God in our daily activities. It is not an easy task, but as we ask for strength from Heaven, we can find God is more than willing to provide us with the grace and love that we need. After all, if he is very interested in reconciling with us, how much more with one another?

My name is Pastor Bayu, and this has been A Quick Word about resolving conflict. If you want to get a biblical perspective on how to manage difficult people, you can send an SMS to 9868 0004.


(Outro)

Few people enjoy conflict and arguing, but when addressed in a healthy and compassionate manner, conflict can be an opportunity to find a greater love and understanding for each other.

To help you successfully navigate a conflict, Pastor Bayu has some exercises that can help you manage strife in your relationship. To get these exercises and more, refer to the top of this page.

A Quick Word is hosted by Pastor Bayu. This podcast is produced by Hope Channel Singapore. Special thanks to Balestier Road Seventh-day Adventist Church. Listen to more episodes of A Quick Word on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.