Scrolling through the news reminds me of the downward spiral our society is in. Last week I taught a seminar on conflict and the material addressed how destructive conflict is a downward spiral. We constantly attack each other, fail to find common ground and destroy relationships through conflict. Most people don't want there to be poor people, injustice, war or violence, yet our lack of proper communication causes those very things. We constantly use violent communication as we try to defend what we value. Though conflict is necessary for growth, the negative affects of bad dialogue do not have to be necessary.
When I started blogging, a transgender friend named Seda reached out to me for open dialogue through non-violent communication. Seda thinks we should talk to one another and share what we feel, but be careful in how we go about the process. We do not need to attack, but to understand, seek to be understood, and to love. I think society could start to mend if we took one another seriously and asked ourselves the question, "why would a rational human being act/believe that way?" Admittedly, not all people are rational, but my optimistic self would like to think that a good 99% of people are not against everyone else in the world. In conflict try backing out of the subject to find common ground and purposes before you reenter the subject to solve the conflict.
Constructive conflict must start in the every day. It would be hypocritical to try peacekeeping conversations with the world without first practicing them in your everyday relationships. Those closest to you know whether or not you live on the downward spiral or give priority to relationships over always being right.
Here are some tips for conflict to turn constructive:
1. Give priority to relationship. The friendship should be more important than the problem.
2. Follow OICA: Observe, Interpret, Clarify and Accuse. Make sure you understand all that is going on with the conflict before you start your demands.
3. Show that the others values are heard and important.
4. Create a secure environment for the others involved.
5. Show respect
6. Make sure it is obvious that you are both listening and understanding.
7. Show mercy and grace, both with others and with yourself.
8. Celebrate being different and not just conforming.
9. We have a great opportunity in conflict to show the gospel at work in our lives.
The material from this blog is from the seminar "Constructive Conflict" written by the missionaries behind the website servantleaderstraining.com