In all relationships, healthy conflict is learning to RESPOND instead of REACT. It’s always better to have a conversation instead of an argument. Proverbs 12:18 says, “Thoughtless words can wound as deeply as any sword (Reacting), but wisely spoken words can heal (Responding).”
Responding is HEARING what the other person means instead of reacting to what they say. One must feel understood before they will ever understand.
So the goal of responding is a SHARED UNDERSTANDING. When you choose to acknowledge what the other person said before you counter with your opinion, you have a better chance of being understood.
If you want to UNDERSTAND more:
- Stay calm
- Stay open-minded (suspend preconceptions, assumptions, and your own needs)
- Don’t interrupt
- Don’t contradict (challenge)
- Don’t change the subject
- Avoid sarcasm
- If you don’t understand something, ask for clarification
- Stay away from fault or blame
- No put downs
- No comparisons
- Screaming and yelling never HELPS!
If you want to get HEARD more:
- Say “May I make a suggestion…”
- Say “Would you mind…”
- Say “What would really help is…”
- Say “Next time, could you…”
- Say “Could you help me with this…”
- Say “This is what I would like you to do…”
For further study if married, How to Act Right, When Your Spouse Acts Wrong by Leslie Vernick
For further study if single, Pursuing Peace – A Christian Guide to Handling our Conflicts by Robert Jones.
Ron Brenning, Marriage and Family Pastor