Building Bridges- Understanding and Resolving Conflicts

Experiencing inter-personal and inter-group conflicts in everyday life is a common occurrence. Our differences, uniqueness, experiences, perceptions, goals and point of view sometimes create fodder for conflicts. As long as you have two people together, there is an opportunity for unity but also equally, an opportunity for conflict.

The shootings over the past week or so in Dallas, Louisiana and Minnesota have left many wondering, others took to social media to express their disdain, while others have taken up their fight quietly by praying for their respective communities etc However, these shootings showed us the importance of clearly understanding the causes of inter group conflicts as well as proactively taking steps to resolve them.

Ivancevich, Konopaske and Matteson (2014) wrote a book on organizational behavior where they stated that inter-group conflicts are a result of work inter relatedness, goal differences and perception differences. I believe that these reasons are applicable regardless of the settings or context.  Our mere connection with one another can create conflict, when we fail in our responsibilities towards our fellow human beings, conflict can arise; when we perceive that our goals are mutually exclusive from the goals of others, then conflicts can arise and when we are stereotypical and perceive the differences of others as a threat regardless of race or backgrounds, then conflicts can arise.

So how do we resolve intergroup conflicts or how can we in light of this information, address this issue? First of all, I believe in the power of prayer, James 5:16 says that prayer is powerful and dynamic, prayer opens the doors for healing to take place. Jesus encouraged us to pray in Luke 1:18 regardless of the situation. Therefore, the role of prayer in resolving conflicts can’t be over emphasized.

Secondly, in Matthew 18:15-16 Jesus gives a template for conflict resolution, He encouraged confrontation with the offender, but not like you think, the confrontation is more with the purpose of reconciliation and not retaliation. Having a forum for discussion, opens doors of dialogue to not only  discuss the issue but hear the other side. The goal of this discussion is to think win-win, as we engage in dialogue, we must always ask how can my views be heard and how best can I hear the views of others.

Thirdly, sometimes, resolving conflicts requires a fresh pair of eyes in the situation, that is why Jesus recommended to bring a third-party into the mix. We have to be open to criticism and not short-sighted to ignore the voices of others. Although difficult, resolving conflicts requires that you put yourself in the other persons shoes and check your perceptions about the other group or person at the door.

In conclusion, to change relationship dynamics, we have to change ourselves, this is daunting task as we are weak in the flesh, however this is where God comes in. In our weaknesses, His strength is made perfect, God will fight for you even when you feel displaced, even when you feel like you are getting the short end of the stick.  Pray for Gods wisdom, His patience and most of all that His love rules in your heart after all there is no conflict resolution without love. So this is just a short list from a long list of things to do, would love to hear your response.

Blessings to your day.