Answers In Love

Winning at Life God's Way

How To Tame a Really Scary Conflict Before It Spins Out of Control

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Unwanted and upsetting conflicts happen. They’re as old as human history.

A client of mine named Christine encountered a difficult conflict one time. She didn’t know what to do until she came to counseling and got some ideas. Perhaps you can relate to her story:

Christine’s Conflict:

Christine worked full time to support her disabled husband and their child. She didn’t mind the work at her well-paying job. However, she hated the cold, catty, cliquish nature of her office environment

Her job became more bearable once Christine began carpooling with a co-worker named Melissa. The two women formed a friendship that became the oasis Christine needed in a barren office landscape. She depended on that friendship – until it suddenly collapsed.

One day upon entering the company cafeteria, Christine inadvertently overheard Melissa sharing some confidential and embarrassing information about Christine with a group of coworkers huddled around a lunch table. She watched as the coworkers chuckled and rolled their eyes. Stunned, Christine slipped away unnoticed.

Christine’s Panic

The betrayal threw Christine into a panic. She felt angry and stuck. She no longer considered Melissa a friend. She believed she could not go on working in the toxic office environment without a friend. She also knew she could not just up and quit because it would take time to find a comparable position.

Christine’s Conflict Resolved:

In counseling, Christine and I talked about how she could resolve what seemed unsolvable. I told her about a wonderful four-step formula designed to help people talk about difficult and sensitive problems. The formula helps potentially volatile conversations remain calm, focused and moving toward resolution.

Christine seemed skeptical but agreed to try using the formula. In session, we practiced what she would say and role-played until she felt confident enough to actually speak to Melissa.

When Christine followed through, she felt elated to hear Melissa apologize, promise never to violate Christine’s confidence again and express a desire to continue the friendship. In fact, the bond between the two women actually grew stronger after surviving a conflict!

Christine’s skilled response to a threatening situation enabled her to stay in a difficult job until a better one came along. Her family never missed a paycheck and her friendship with Melissa continued even after Christine moved on to new employment. As a bonus, Christine grew in personal confidence and her ability to skillfully manage future relationship problems.

Responding to Conflict:

Conflict comes naturally to our relationships under the best of circumstances. However, we do not naturally know how to handle them. That’s a process we must learn.

The Wrong Response to Conflict:

Conflicts scare us. We run, hide and blame when we really want resolution. We avoid addressing problems because we don’t know how to talk about difficulties without starting a fight. We fear the outbreak of strong emotions and escalating arguments.

Running and hiding may seem easiest at first. In the long run, these responses cost us valuable relationships, opportunities and self-respect.

The Right Response to Conflict:

God has a better solution. He wants us to meet conflicts head on and seek resolution. He wants us get past anger, hurts and grudges and respond in love (Rms 12:18; Col. 3:8).

Counselors and relationship experts can teach you how to address conflicts in a loving way that increases the likelihood of resolution. I truly believe in the power of the four-step process used by Christine and so many others. It entails:

  1. Starting with a relationship-affirming statement.
  2. Identifying the problem.
  3. Sharing how you feel.
  4. Asking for what you want.

Do You Need This Formula?

If an unwanted conflict has complicated your life, decide what you want to happen. What have you tried? Is it working? Could the four-step formula help you achieve resolution?

If you haven’t already signed up for this website, do so now to receive the PDF, How to Talk about a Problem without Starting a Fight. It provides step-by-step instructions for using this valuable conflict resolution tool.

Also, if you know someone stuck in a painful conflict, please encourage them to sign up for this website and receive the PDF as well.

I hope this helps. Let me know!









About Cheryl Savageau

Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor

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