Here's the thing: conflict is scary. But, it's also unavoidable because being a human and interacting with other humans is hard sometimes. We all deal with conflict differently, which is why Emma and I (Ash) are going to walk you through our best advice on how to deal with it.
I used to be afraid of conflict and would run and hide from it anytime it came around. I feared that if there was conflict, and that conflict was addressed, the relationship would break and/or never be the same. But, I was wrong. The truth is that conflict is normal, healthy, and (depending on what the conflict is over) can be easily dissolved. I've come to a place where I no longer fear conflict, but can welcome it, address it, and move on from it. I'm hoping that through mine and Emma's advice, you'll begin to come to that place too.
It's important for us to note that within this blog, we're talking about the kinds of conflicts that we deal with in everyday life. Whether it's a fight with your roommate, a tense discussion with a friend, or something someone did that upset you, conflicts can't go unaddressed without negatively affecting the relationship. We aren't experts at any of this, but we're learning, and like all skills, dealing with conflict gets better with practice.
Here's how we've learned to handle conflict:
Take a Step Back // Ash
I want to write about this one first because I think this is the best first step. When conflict comes around, it's easy to get angry, frustrated, or hurt over the situation and to then act based on those feelings, which can get really messy. So, when conflict arrises, take a step back. Process what's going on, try to see it from the other person's side, and try to see beyond your feelings.
Pray About It // Emma
I've given and received this advice so many times, but here's something I've realized recently about prayer and conflict: If I truly care about the person I am in conflict with, then prayer should be one of my first responses. Ask the Father to give both you and the person you're in conflict with wisdom, humility, and objectivity. I'm guilty of praying for God to just make the conflict go away or show the other person why they're wrong. This is the opposite of the mindset we should have. Be ready to address the conflict, be willing to be wrong, and trust that the Father will guide you through it all.
Don't Be Passive Aggressive // Emma
When I've had conflicts with people in college, the messiest ones have involved people who were being passive aggressive. They would avoid talking about the conflict directly but instead would say or do things that indirectly addressed it. No effort was made at resolution, rather they let the unresolved conflict affect their behavior. This response only makes conflict worse. When you have conflict, don't lash out. Be mature and talk about it. That's what truly leads to resolution and growth.
Be Direct // Ash
This is probably the scariest part of dealing with conflict, but honestly, it's my favorite. I'm a really honest person, so being direct comes easy for me. But, I know that isn't true for everyone. When it comes to resolving conflict, though, it's important to be direct. We have to be willing to be bold and vulnerable, to be honest with the person we're in conflict with to give them the chance to know where we are. What you feel (after you've taken a step back and prayed about it) is important and worth discussing. Be honest and direct, valuing yourself and the other person in the process, in order to properly move on from whatever conflict you're dealing with.
Grace Upon Grace Upon Grace // Emma
Every conflict has to be handled with grace. The simple fact that there's conflict in the first place means that someone has done something to cause it. That person needs grace. Do they deserve it? No, no one does. But when we give grace to others (and ourselves) in conflict, we love people the way Jesus does. We all have stuff we need to work on, but that doesn't define us. Forgive. Show love. Let grace be the trademark of how you handle conflict.
Move On // Ash
It sounds simple, but I know it's not. I am a pro at holding grudges, but it doesn't accomplish anything. Holding onto past conflict can be detrimental to relationships, so we have to try to move on. My best advice in this is to pray about it, again and again, throwing any unresolved hurt back on the Father until there is no more. Let Him lead you in what you do with it, let Him take away whatever is left. Fight hard to let go and move on, even if it means starting over at the first step of this process. Moving on is what's best, whether that means the relationship is the same or different as before, I promise.
Handling conflict is never going to be fun. Life is messy and people fall short. The advice we've given you today is things that we are still learning how to put into practice. Conflict can be tough in the moment but is a beautiful opportunity for growth. Be willing to learn.
Best of luck, friends.
-- Emma & Ash
Blogger duo & word friends