This morning, I awoke to the weather forecast; "another inch of snow is expected for Saturday." "NOOOOO!" I LOVE snow but this winter has lasted so long that even I (mild-mannered reporter for the Daily Planet) have become moody and crabby. And I'm not the only one with this malady.
More and more people are feeling this same way, resulting in more stressed people and stressful environments. This means tempers flare faster, people become edgier, and we are more prone to throwing up our hands or shaking our heads when dealing with issues. This is true when we are at work, at home, or…at church.
The Word says, "strive to maintain the unity of faith," "admonish a brother in a spirit of humility," "if you're offended go to your brother and speak to him," "forgive one another," and "speak the truth in love."
Given this season of everyone's discontent, here are some tips on dealing with conflicts that might rise the next time you are working at church;
1. Embrace conflict and resolve it. Let your energy be used for positive problem solving, not on your emotions.
2. Learn how to handle anger. Anger is not bad. Anger is usually a response to disappointment. Admit your anger and ask yourself what is causing it.
3. Seek understanding, not victory. Ask questions. Try to understand the other person's perspective. Don't attack the person.
4. Assume the best. Don't jump to wrong conclusions. Instead, give people the benefit of the doubt.
5. Learn to share your feelings appropriately. Say, "I have a problem. When I heard you say ____________ the other day, I felt hurt, upset, unappreciated (whatever) and angry. I'd like to work through with you what you meant, how I can change, and how I can make you aware of the effect your words had on me."
6. Watch your tongue. Use these questions as guidelines for everything you say. Ask:
a. Is it true? Don't say things like "always," "never," or other words that are absolute.
b. Is it kind?
c. Is it necessary? Keep the verbal airways clean by saying only what is necessary.
7. Speak the truth respectfully.
8. Attack the problem, not the person.
9. Deal with specific areas, not generalizations.
10. Seek and grant forgiveness.
Forgiveness and trust are not the same thing. Trust is conditional and forgiveness is not. You should forgive because you free up the other person to seek reconciliation and forgiveness.
Learn to ask for forgiveness. "I was wrong to ___," "I'm sorry I caused you to feel ________," and "I'll work hard at not doing that again" are great ways to start.
11. Deal with conflict personally and privately. Don't go behind a person's back and complain or gossip about them. Care enough to confront.
If that person doesn't respond, then bring two or more people with you for clarification. Your goal here isn't to beat up on the person but to provide clarity and confirmation of the issues. You may be wrong yourself. Be humble, share how you feel about the conflict and let the other person share his or her perspective. Let the others with you give their perspective.
12. Be gentle. People are fragile. Treat people with grace and kindness.
QUESTIONS: Are You Finding Yourself / Others More Stressed Out This Season? What Have You Done About It?