Support and Confront: The Art of Managing Conflict
- Friday, August 22, 2008
I called John and set up an appointment for the next day for us to meet. I drove an hour and a half to his office. Upon arrival I said, “John, you and I have agreed on these terms. Is that correct?” He agreed. Then John began to describe his conversation with my attorney. The more he described it, the more emotional he began to get. In just a few minutes John’s blood pressure had arisen to the point he was almost cursing the attorney. At that point I interrupted John with these words, “In the name of Jesus I rebuke that spirit of fear and insecurity! If you continue to allow that to rule you, I am walking out of here.” John was startled, as I was too, since I have never done such a thing. However, I saw so clearly what was taking place in John. You see, John had lost a multi-million dollar company that resulted from a corporate takeover which left him bankrupt, losing literally millions of dollars in the process. Lawyers were the catalyst for his downfall and he has seen lawyers as evil and the source of pain and hurt in his life. So, whenever he is talking with a lawyer, he allows the old hurts and pains and insecurities that he experienced during that time in his life to return. He had allowed a stronghold of insecurity and fear to rule him whenever he was speaking to a lawyer.
After I explained this to John he sat back in his chair and said, “You are absolutely right. There is no reason we cannot do this deal. I have allowed this spirit to rule my life in this area.” We agreed on the terms of our deal and finalized the agreement – with the attorney.
Many times the people we are working with have underlying issues that are going on in their lives. You may be in a conflict with someone and their reaction to you seems almost irrational. I remember working with a client’s advertising director who was a woman. My first meeting with this woman revealed to me that this situation was going to be a difficult one. I realized it was not because I was not serving the company’s needs appropriately; it was because this woman hated men. The signs were very clear. However, instead of being able to overcome the situation, I was forced to resign working with her because it was not a situation that neither the company, nor I was able to address in the context of an agency/client relationship.
Here are a few helpful guidelines when it comes to achieving a balance between confronting while supporting the individual at the same time recommended by Mike and Sue Dowgiwicz from their publication Growing Relationships through Confrontation*
Support is done for the other person.
What to Support
- The other person’s anxiety, fear and doubt.
- The right for them to feel differently about the issue.
- The reality of their perceptions.
How to Support
- Accept what the other person tells you.
- Listen to them.
- Mirror back what the other person says so they know you are listening.
- Verbalize the other person’s feelings.
Confronting is done for yourself and the good of the relationship.
What to Confront
- Problems that are not being solved.
- Differences that hamper the relationship.
- Actions that are inappropriate/damaging.
How to Confront
- Acknowledge the other person’s position.
- State the differences clearly and succinctly.
- Check to see if you are understood.
- Be responsible for your feelings.
- Ask for their position on the issue.
God calls each of us to be peacemakers. However, there are times in which conflict will arise. Using these principles will help you avoid unnecessary conflict.
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