Personal Reflections on Conflict (part 2 of 2)

April 14, 2012 — Leave a comment

Leaders have conflict. No matter how good a leader is, conflict is an issue that leaders must learn to deal with and navigate. 

There are several values and principles that have informed my beliefs and actions about conflict.

I believe that we all can get along no matter what we are doing. I have learned from reading that “we can’t always choose the conflicts that come into our lives, but we can choose our responses to those conflicts.”[1] I also agree with what one professor states that “conflict is never fully and finally realized.”[2] Conflict is something that comes up again and again, which means we need to keep working through it. I also believe that conflict needs to be addressed quickly.

Several months ago I overheard a statement my landlords made about some lights I had sitting in the room I rent from them. As soon as I heard them talking about my lights, I guessed they might be displeased with me storing the lights in the room I rent from them. Within ten minutes I walked outside to explain to my landlord why I had a bunch of four foot long florescent lights in a small room. This is evidence that I want to resolve conflict when I know it exists. And finally, I believe that conflict can cause long term pain, issues, and division. Too many times I have observed conflict that was not handled well which resulted in loved family members distancing themselves from each other and coworkers leaving their jobs specifically because of one person with whom they could not manage to resolve conflict.

I have three personal conflict related goals. The first goal I have is to be able to effectively function in conflicts with my supervisor in a productive way so we can both look towards the goals we have and discuss how to get there. (Skill Domain—Functioning.) At work I sometimes feel that my supervisors and I have a goal to raise funds for our community; however, we have different ideas and strategies of how we think we should get there. At times, my feelings resonate with Wilmot and Hocker who write, “Too much losing [with conflict in the workplace] will not build character; it builds frustration, aggression, or apathy.”[3] I think it is ok to lose a little bit in conflict at work, but when it happens several times a week and even several times on some days, it begins to discourage me. I believe this class will help me develop the communication skills useful for resolving and transforming conflict that I have on a regular basis at work.

The second goal I have is to increase my awareness of my conflict styles, tendencies, and strategies. (Affective Domain—Awareness.) “We need to learn to manage ourselves” and“dealing with conflict starts with me.”[4] Thus far, as part of the exercises we have been through I have increased my awareness of my own conflict management style. I have noticed that I have a tendency to want to work through conflict when it already exists, but I also have a tendency to shy away when I need to do or say something that will create conflict. I hope to become more aware of these and other tendencies I have so I can positively work through them to improve my ability to navigate and resolve conflict.

The third goal I have is to have a deep understanding of the different theories and methodologies within conflict. (Cognitive Domain—Translation/Application.) For example, what power imbalances are there? What is going on? What method is best applied here? Where is power playing a part? Having a deeper knowledge of what causes conflict and the skills that it takes to deal with it will help me to translate what we learn into application to the world and areas I serve in.

BIBLIOGRAPHY (for both blog posts)

Dunn, Ph.D., Larry. “Understanding Conflict: Introduction, Orientation, Theology.” Lecture, Fresno Pacific University-North Center Campus, Fresno, CA, December 1, 2011.

Schrock-Shenk, Carolyn. Making Peace with Conflict: Practical Skills for Conflict Transformation. Edited by Carolyn Schrock-Shenk and Lawrence Ressler. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1999.

Wilmot, William and Joyce Hocker. Interpersonal Conflict. 8th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011.

[1] Carolyn Schrock-Shenk, Making Peace with Conflict: Practical Skills for Conflict Transformation, ed. Carolyn Schrock-Shenk and Lawrence Ressler, Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1999), 30.

[2] Larry Dunn, Ph.D., “Understanding Conflict: Introduction, Orientation, Theology” (lecture, Fresno Pacific University-North Center Campus, Fresno, CA, December 1, 2011).

[3] William Wilmot and Joyce Hocker, Interpersonal Conflict, 8th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011), 128.

[4] Larry Dunn, Ph.D., “Understanding Conflict: Introduction, Orientation, Theology” (lecture, Fresno Pacific University-North Center Campus, Fresno, CA, December 1, 2011).

Christopher L. Scott

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Christopher Scott is Small Groups Pastor at Rocky Hilly Community Church in Exeter, CA. He has more than ten years of experience leading volunteers, running nonprofit programs, and teaching the Bible in small group settings. He holds a bachelor's degree from Fresno Pacific University and master's degree from Dallas Theological Seminary.

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