Conflict Resolution Series: Operating in Good Faith to Avoid Conflict
"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” -Ian Maclaren
Conflict is a given. It’s going to happen, sometimes no matter what. That’s frustrating, but realizing it also makes it less dramatic when it happens. Walking through life understanding that everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle helps humanize them and perhaps a little grace can be extended from time to time.
You can’t control the behavior of others, but there is something you can do to set yourself up for success when crabby people are in your path - operate in good faith.
Operating in good faith means many things, but the gist of it means holding a standard within yourself that aligns with your faith, your morals, and your values. Being consistent with your reactions to people, both good and bad, helps keep conflict manageable - even when people aren’t always kind.
When done correctly, operating in good faith reduces conflict in these ways:
Prevent conflict altogether
Being a kind and generous person increases the likelihood that you will not rub people the wrong way and cause conflict. Being conscientious, generous, and socially mature goes a long way towards avoiding conflict altogether.
Diffuse conflict quickly
Working from a good faith attitude means you are quick to seek resolution once you are aware conflict has come up. Being willing to solve problems rather than avoid them is an act of good faith.
Take the high road
Michelle Obama is known for saying, “When they go low, we go high.” Refusing to engage with snarky or bitter people by taking the higher road - whatever that means in the moment - will resolve conflict before it is out of hand.
Here is what operating in faith looks like from a community standpoint. Good faith is:
Good faith operates from a place of ‘us’ rather than self. Good faith imagines the best in others and sees the realities that hurting people hurt others. Good faith realizes people cut one another off in traffic and steal parking spaces and that in the greater scheme of things, it doesn’t matter.
Think of the greater good
There is always a bigger picture and operating in good faith realizes the world does not orbit one person. Though it may be uncomfortable or downright aggravating, some situations are endured for a greater good.
Keep your conscience clear Operating in good faith keeps your conscience clear. Knowing you are doing the right thing - even when no one is looking - gives you the confidence to stand up or stand down during a conflict.
Help you hold your ground Similar to having a clear conscience, operating in good faith helps you hold your ground and weather the conflict if it is noble and just. Being able to withstand the blows from a conflict are easier when the cause is right, and you are on the right side of the cause.
Going through life with a set of standards and behaviors that are rooted in doing what is right is an excellent way to avoid conflict. From being kind and generous - which avoids conflict altogether - to offering grace when it is unavoidable, doing the right thing is never wrong.
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