Resolving Conflict Creatively, Part III
"If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."1
To resolve conflict creatively we have pointed out the need to strive always to speak the truth in love, to listen with our hearts and hear what the other person is not saying, to be honest with our true feelings, to use "I" messages, and to avoid the blame game.
Sixth, we also need to accept responsibility. Working with several hundred divorced people over the past decade, I have found that the majority primarily blame their former spouse for the breakup of their marriage without taking a serious look at what they contributed. I repeat, conflict managed creatively can be growth producing when both parties will accept responsibility for their share in the conflict. Yes, it is true, some people are bullies, belligerent, and dogmatic, but some of us are too "nice" to stand up for ourselves—that is, we are too weak, too passive, too co-dependent, or too super-sensitive.
Even the Bible implies that some people are impossible to get along with, and there comes a time—with controlling, manipulating, dishonest, or abusive people—when we need to say, "No more," and exercise tough love. When we fail to do this, that's our problem. And as we said yesterday, what the other person does or fails to do is their issue (or problem). How I respond is always my responsibility. Only when I can see and admit my part in the conflict can I have a chance of getting to resolution. I believe that failure for each party to see what he/she is contributing to the conflict is one of the major causes of relational failure.
Seventh, stick to the subject at hand. Whew ... when people stuff their negative feelings and sit on their hurt and anger, look out! They will eventually either implode, that is, turn their emotions inward and get sick or even have a heart attack, or they will explode. And it will be the "dumbest" little thing that triggers the explosion, and beware ... they will go back to unresolved grievances for the past three years (or three decades). To fight fair, it is imperative to deal only with the issue at hand.
Eighth, confess nobody's "sins" but your own and seek to change only yourself! The reality is that the only person I can ever change is myself. When I confess the other person's faults and try to change him or her, it just makes them madder, and rightfully so. As Jesus also said, before we try to take a splinter out of the other person's eye, we need to take the log out of our own. Amazing, isn't it? It is so much easier to see the other guy's splinter and not even be aware of the log in our own eye!
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to always accept my responsibility in every conflict situation and face the truth of what I am contributing, and to resolve whatever that might be. Help me to admit and confess only my own sins and seek forgiveness for my failures, not only from you, but also from those I may have hurt unwittingly or on purpose. Gratefully, in Jesus' name. Amen."
(To be concluded)
1. Romans 12:18 (NIV).