Rather than anticipating conflict or the worst case scenario, posturing yourself for a fight, enter into a difficult conversation or conflict with empathy and understanding. Come prepared to understand the other party’s perspective so that they will be less defensive or prone to fight. Don’t avoid conflict. Seek ways to make sure the other party is heard and able to communicate with you.
Why this story matters for church leaders:
Church leaders regularly manage conflict and disappointed church members, but handling difficult situations with empathy can diffuse a lot of tension.
- Are members being heard? Oftentimes people want to be heard even more than they need to have their way. Make sure you fully hear them out and see matters from their perspective, even if you can’t give what they request.
- What is empathy? Empathy means we place ourselves in the position of the other person and communicate that we share their feelings, even if we don’t reach the same conclusions.
- Own your role in conflict: It’s possible that you have been defensive or combative, even if you had the right view of a situation. You can diffuse a lot of tension by owning your unproductive responses and moving toward greater empathy.
What is your first response when conflict arises? How can you move toward empathy today?
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