Questioning Conflict?

Do you ever avoid a sticky subject because you know it will erupt either into a heated argument or major meltdown? Oh, haven’t we all been there! Especially with that paranoid Aunt Thelma who finds an insult behind every compliment you’ve ever given her!

So then, are you wondering what you should do? Well, let me begin with . . .

What NOT to do first:

  1. Don’t come at them “guns blazing” (tone down any anger)
  2. Don’t let your anger, pride or fear close your ears (listen non-judgmentally)
  3. Don’t try to convince them of your point
  4. Don’t point out how wrong they are
  5. Don’t bring up examples of all their past failures
  6. Don’t overwhelm them with too many details or demands

Now, the real question . . .

What should you do?

  1. Ask questions

Is it really that simple? Well, yes and no.

Your questions need to:

  1. Focus on understanding more of the other person’s feelings and point of view
  2. Avoid sounding accusatory (For example, avoid questions that start with “why”)
  3. Involve open-ended responses vs. questions that require a simple “yes” or “no”
  4. Simply reflect what you’ve heard the other person say (it’s amazing how often this little tweak can change the course of a conflict)

I can’t promise you that if you use questions, you will avoid a conflict. But I do promise that if you use questions with a respectful attitude in times of conflict, it will deescalate the anger and frustration, as well as, increase the level of understanding. And that’s a benefit that no one can argue with!


Comments on: "Questioning Conflict?" (7)

  1. Your “what not to do” list reads more like my “I do alot” list. 🙂

    I think you give some great advice here. I’m taking notes! 🙂

  2. Thanks, Donna! You’re always encouraging!

  3. I came from Ann’s

    Such good stuff. And I see Our Lord doing this. No guns blazing (except for Pharisees), and questions, and entering into another’s heart (like the woman at the well – and the one caught in adultery). Good psychology – good theology – awesome.

    Thank you for this

    God Bless and keep you and yours.

  4. Thanks, Craig. I really appreciate your insights about Jesus (yes, I’ve often felt like Jesus is the ultimate question-asker) and your kind words about my post.

    BTW, I’m not sure which Ann you are referring to. Please let me know, so I can be sure to thank her.

  5. Diane Savoca said:

    Well Beth,

    I can not say that I have mastered all these recommendations but I can say that when I do remember to invite God into the conflict, I remain calm and usually the relationship is strengthened. After 45 years of marriage I have learned that conflict can be good. It can clear the air so that resentment does not build.

    Thanks for the post. It got me thinking about working harder to listen.

    God’s best

  6. I agree, Diane. We often try to avoid conflict. But if we face it with God, we grow, love more deeply, and experience blessings that are missed when we bury our heads in the sand.

    Thanks for commenting and for your kind words. I’m glad it’s encouraging greater listening–even though I’m blessed by the listening you’ve given me!

  7. staying calm in the midst of the discussions is sometimes hard – especially when feelings are running deep! But it is a good thing. I’ve been able to do it a few times. And those few times have been the best conflict ever. 🙂

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