How to Resolve Conflict and Make Peace
How do we live in peace? James teaches us why we fight and how we make peace:
“Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn’t wisdom. It’s the furthest thing from wisdom—it’s animal cunning, devilish conniving. Whenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others’ throats.
Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor. James 3:14-18 MSG
So how do we become peacemakers? How do we resolve conflict in our own lives? Once we begin the hard work of making peace on a personal level, then we will see greater peace on earth.
If you view conflict as something that shouldn’t happen, something that harms relationships, it becomes negative. And then you avoid it and hope it will go away. But if you see conflict as a fact of life, an opportunity to strengthen relationships, you have a way of resolving conflict by turning it into something creative.
Try these Ways to Resolve Conflict.”
1. Agree on a mutually acceptable time and place to discuss the conflict.
2. State the problem as you see it and list your concerns.
- Make “I” statements.
- Withhold judgments, accusations, and absolute statements (“always” or “never”).
3. Let the other person have his/her say.
- Do not interrupt or contradict.
- Do not allow name-calling, put-downs, threats, obscenities, yelling, or intimidating behavior.
4. Listen and ask questions.
- Ask fact-based questions (who? what? where? when? how?) to make sure you understand the situation.
- Ask exploratory questions (what if? what are you saying? is this the only solution to our problem? what if we did such and such? are there other alternatives to this situation?).
- Avoid accusatory “why” questions (why are you like that?).
- Use your own words to restate what you think the other person means and wants.
- Acknowledge the person’s feelings and perceptions.
5. Seek common ground.
- What do you agree on?
- What are your shared concerns?