universal and a natural part of life where people and
relationships are involved. Understanding the difference
between inner, interpersonal, and organizational
conflict and separating people from organizational
issues is vital.
Inner conflict without resolution can act out in
different ways. This can affect family relationships and
job performance as well as attitude in ministering and
Dealing effectively with conflicts
involving interpersonal relationships requires moving
beyond immediate tensions and disagreements and
identifying the root causes.
lack of communication is often the root cause of most
disagreements. Getting the parties to talk may resolve
the conflict or misunderstanding.
If the conflict is
deeper than mere communication, a neutral, third party
may be needed to assist in negotiating resolution. This
person can help identify issues, find common ground, and
deal with deeper issues. In dealing with organizational
conflict, the issues need to be identified before
resolution can begin to take place. Both hidden and
surface issues must be addressed.
Sometimes the best approach is to ignore the situation.
Some situations are best left alone. Even if you are
right, you often lose. The battle may simply not be
worth the cost. Getting involved will sometimes escalate
the disagreement into a major conflict. Learn when it is
best to walk away.
"Blamestorming" is a popular sport today. Pointing a
finger and placing blame on others is easy. More
difficult is extending one's hand in a move toward
Hoping to preserve a relationship at all costs, some
people automatically give in to the wishes of others.
This is appropriate when the issues are unimportant
compared to the value of the relationship or when the
accommodating person feels that he or she is in the
wrong. In other instances accommodating may give others
a sense of vindication, even when they are wrong, which
might lead to further conflict. The relationship may
begin to feel burdensome, which can result in feelings
of frustration and resentment. After repeated
accommodations and continued conflict, another approach
issues are too complex for involved parties to resolve.
A mediator can help those involved to bring issues to
the surface, while being sensitive to feelings involved.
The goal is to have the parties work together to find
mutually satisfactory solutions.
The situation may necessitate bringing in a neutral,
third party to help adversaries work through the issues.
The tension level may be too high for the parties to
talk without strong emotions. The neutral party can
listen, help them talk through the issues, and help them
become aware of ways to resolve the conflict.
Forcing.— After listening to the issues
and working past any form of resolution, a mediator
seeks to explore all possible solutions. The mediator
has no power to impose them on the conflicting parties.
Those in disagreement can be asked to accept a solution
and to agree to work together.
Paul said that love is
the greatest gift (see 1 Cor. 13). Ultimately the best
solutions to any conflict are love and forgiveness.
(Adapted from Richard Faling, "Managing Conflict
Before It Manages You," Church Administration, November