Conflict Resolution Series: The Importance of Grace
The word conflict conjures up images of discord, anger, and furrowed brows. Conflict means being at odds with someone, so there is an expectation that being defensive or assertive is the best mindset to have when faced with conflict. While it is very important to have your wits about you, it is also important to make room for some grace and kindness.
Saving room for kindness during conflict makes it possible for things to shift. Conflict doesn’t have to be resolved through strong-arming, proving the best case, or bulldozing an opponent. Conflict can often be resolved by keeping an eye open for peaceful ways to move towards resolution. Here’s how:
Sometimes conflict begins due to frustration. Frustration can cause people to vent, feel defensive, go on the attack, or shut down. Being in a heightened space of negativity makes people act poorly and sometimes out of character. Being able to see past the frustration makes it possible to use tools to shift gears and redirect the negative banter.
Asking open ended questions
Offering a new perspective
These tools can derail a train headed for nowhere and get the conversation back on a track that ends with healing and resolution. Here’s how:
Active listening is the art of engaging with someone in such a way that they know they have been heard. Active listening includes reframing the statements shared back and forth and asking for clarifications along the way. Active listening can alert people in conflict when they are being misunderstood or help them see the impact they are having on the other person. Active listening is an excellent way to show grace in conflict.
Asking Open Ended Questions
Open ended questions require more than a yes or no answer. Asking clarifying and open-ended questions is a great way to help people better illustrate what they are trying to say. Helping others better express themselves can assist them in sorting out their feelings easier than fighting. Asking open ended questions may lead to a way out of the conflict that restores what may have been lost and allows for everyone’s dignity to be intact.
Offering a New Perspective
As conflict unfolds, more information is being shared. The more you know, the better you can take in the information and roll it around. Grace allows for sharing a new perspective or acknowledging someone else’s perspective. Perhaps one or both parties will have an a-ha moment that changes the trajectory of the conflict.
Anytime you can see something from another person’s perspective, you win. Regardless if you agree with their interpretation or not, having empathy for why or how they see the world can help you offer grace. It doesn’t let them off the hook if they are operating in bad faith; it makes room for you to extend some kindness or forgiveness rather than dig your heels in, trying to win at all costs.
Conflict doesn’t bring grace and empathy front of mind. It takes intention and a kind heart to offer grace where it may not be deserved. Finding some way to extend grace during conflict can be the pivot point where things come together and start to improve.
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