Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Beyond Anger and Blame
The other day someone came to see me, a truly decent person I like alot. He was trying to get a handle on a conflict with another person I know well, a truly decent individual I like alot. I have spoken to both, could see both "sides" of the situation, and didn't want to pass judgement or take sides. Both conversations were worthwhile and I prayed for resolution and reconciliation. It has occurred, which is an immense relief to me. I am convinced that their Christian faith was a significant factor in "burying the hatchet, " a phrase we use which is actually connected to an Iroquois Confederacy ritual of peace-making.
Hardly a week goes by that I don't have a conversation with someone who is in conflict, usually with a family member. Why do they come to me? Well, we sense that issues of anger, alienation, forgiveness and reconciliation are deeply spiritual, and inviting God into the situation matters. And I am the God Guy for a certain group of people.
The same day I chatted with the person mentioned above I saw the cover article for the Christian Century. The title is Beyond Anger and Blame: How to achieve constructive conflict. Notice that it doesn't say "how to avoid conflict?" We can't live without experiencing conflict. To try to avoid it creates inner conflict which can be just as destructive. You might recall me writing about a family member who never argued with her husband in 25 years of marriage. But she ended up resenting him so deeply she eventually left the relationship without attempted resolution.
The article tells us about NVC or non-violent communication, an approach with four steps:
1: naming the behaviour that is a problem
2: naming the emotion you feel when the behavioiur takes place
3:naming the need you have that is not being met because of the other person's behaviour
4:stating in very concrete terms what you would like the other person to do
I won't go further because this is already a longer blog -- aka sermonette! I am curious to know whether these steps make sense to you. Are you good at resolving conflict, or do you avoid it? Does your faith make a difference in how you handle conflict?