Okay, I just tweeted, “The desire to win gets in the way of healthy dialogue.” That is a paraphrase from the book: “Crucial Conversation Tools For Talking When Stakes Are High”. Out of all the thoughts I’ve seen, heard or read this month, this one has struck a cord with me.
In my work I deal with policy writing, conflicted individuals, politicized debate, stereotypes, and conversations with various levels of potential conflict. The tensions or potential tensions continue into relationships with family, neighbours and friends. Fear is behind all of this.
We will never see and end to tension. I think some believe that somewhere in the past or somewhere in the future, even before Jesus returns, that there will be a time of no stress, no conflict, and no infighting. That kind of self-talk will drive us bonkers. At some point we need to realize and accept that conflict will always be with us … ‘until death do us part’.
If we are only observers of others in a squabble, it may be easier to see through to the individuals’ motivations. That is not always the case. We become experts at hiding our real motivations … the outcome we really want. It is this desire to come out on top and win that complicates us in a battle. When we ourselves are in an argument, we usually convey only aspects that help our side. Our own desired ends may even be hidden to ourselves. Perhaps we just want validation, affirmation, or an action that will help us get to another goal we have for ourselves.
Scripture says that ‘the heart is deceitful’. Perhaps we should acknowledge this more readily. We are often blind to what is stirring the pot, what is making us agitated, or what gets us riled up. Looking back each one of us can see the plots where we were on the wrong side of a discussion. That would be several times over for me personally.
May God help us to see more clearly where we need to repent, apologize, calm down, grant grace, and start from scratch. God says we are to love our enemies. If we could even get a small slice of that in our hearts in conflicted situations, we could likely come out honouring God more and living with outcomes more easily.
Your co-worker in the conflict,