While mastering the strategic steps for resolving conflict is important, leaders should also work to create an environment that avoids unnecessary conflict and further demonstrates healthy relationships. Toward that end, consider these helpful recommendations:
1. The 101 percent principle.
John Maxwell’s 101 percent principle suggests that in dealing with difficult people, find the 1 percent you can agree on and give it your 100 percent effort. While areas of conflict shouldn’t be avoided or ignored, they should not be our primary focus either. People of different perspectives and goals can work together effectively if they find and prioritize their common ground.
2. Love people more than opinions.
Remember that in most situations, relationships matter most. Don’t allow occasional conflicts to be bigger than relationships, but give your best to working well with others.
3. Give others wiggle room.
Don’t back people into corners or create an environment where they are unable to emerge with dignity and respect. When you win an argument by making the other person a loser, you will lose in the long run as well.
4. Learn to be flexible.
Thomas Jefferson said, “In matters of principle, stand like a rock. In matters of taste, swim with the current.” Effective leaders are able to separate those things that truly matter from the things that really don’t.
5. Check your own attitude.
As we have already seen, understanding and shaping our own attitude is a key part of preparing our hearts for resolving conflict effectively.
6. Learn how to overlook offenses.
We don’t have to point out every offense. Proverbs 19:11 tells us, “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.”
7. Don’t over-react to conflicts
If you find yourself in frequent conflicts, perhaps you should question why. Those who react quickly or over-react to situations can find themselves creating an environment that invites conflict.
8. Always reduce conflict to the fewest number of people possible.
Try not to include people in conflict that doesn’t include or impact them directly. If they are not a part of the problem or the solution, they do not need to be involved.
9. Live on the high road.
Whenever possible, don’t generate conflicts. You will have to respond to conflicts that arise, but you don’t have to create such moments. Do your best to believe the best about others and give them the benefit of the doubt whenever possible.
Effective leaders do not avoid conflict or the necessary confrontations it brings, but they do manage those moments effectively. In every relationship, conflict will have its moment, but those who navigate the troubled waters can emerge with great strength. As we have said, avoiding conflict invites deeper trouble. Use the principles of this lesson and your own experience to develop your healthy response to conflict.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV®. COPYRIGHT ©1973, 1978, 1984 BY INTERNATIONAL BIBLE SOCIETY®.
“Managing Conflict” is published by National Women’s Ministries at www.women.ag.org. ©2020. Permission to reproduce is limited to personal use or within a teaching setting. All other forms of use are prohibited.