Conflict What?!

Since my work focuses around conflict, I thought it was time to address what conflict is.

  • The World English Dictionary defines conflict as:  A state of opposition between ideas, interests, etc; disagreement or controversy.
  • The Bible according to James 4:1 says:  Conflict starts in the heart, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? “
  • Another well-worded definition from the book Becoming a Conflict Competent Leader: How You and Your Organization Can Manage Conflict Effectively, defines conflict as: Any situation in which interdependent people have apparently incompatible interests, goals, principles or feelings.

Digging further into these definitions we see that conflict occurs when our goals, ideas, or values, have been challenged.  I hear you saying, “duh” if anyone gets in the way of my plans or refuses to give me proper respect of course there is going to be conflict!  Which leads us to reactions to conflict. Our reaction to conflict is the key to how destructive or constructive a conflict will be. Ken Sande author of The Peacemaker lays out, what I have found to be the simplest yet most comprehensive explanation of how we can respond to conflict.

            Responses follow a scale between Escape – Peacemaking – and Attack

Escape responses can look like: the extreme of suicide, flight, and even denial.

Peacemaking responses look like: overlooking the offense, reconciliation, negotiation, mediation, arbitration, and accountability.

Attack responses are: assault, litigation, or the extreme reaction of murder.

My goal as a conflict coach is to help people choose reactions that will bring them and others the most peace to their life. The road to choosing Peacemaking responses can be long and certainly may not easy, but it is possible. There are great stories of situations that looked to have no hope of ever being reconciled, even when one person had the “right” to use the fullest extent of the law to gain justice. The story of the Amish Schoolhouse shooting in Pennsylvania in 2006 comes to mind, where the Amish community attended the funeral of their shooter (who killed 5 girls and wounding 5 others) in support of his family. Or a woman who was left by her husband only to receive him back again, as he was seeking remarriage.

I hope you never have to experience anything as extreme as these conflicts, but I do hope that with what ever conflict you face that you can reach out for help to understand it having a trusted advisor or coach walk you through your options for gaining peace once again.

Contact Kristin Lawrence, conflict coach at Ground Level Coaching for more information.

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