Practical ways to overcome divisiveness

To help avoid conflict, talk about something you have in common with someone, before you disagree with them. Say “we” before you say “you.” Angry people defuse when you continually respond to them with friendliness.

When someone offends you with words, a long pause before you speak can help in two ways. 1) It gives you time to think, and 2) It confuses them.

The unwillingness to find a compromise keeps conflict and divisiveness alive. Angry words are often irrational, irrelevant, and insincere–a flood of negative emotion, rather than what a person really believes. It’s better to bow out of a conversation than to allow yourself to be rude and demeaning.

Rude people provoke retaliation. Then get angry when it comes back at them. To insult people is to intentionally provoke and/or escalate conflict. To mock someone is basically asking them to retaliate against you.

When you’ve been hurt by someone, meditate rather than retaliate. Fresh insight can help you win without a fight. Sometimes the best response to a person’s hostile words is to surprise them with kindness.

Seeing conflict as a competition makes it difficult to find a fair resolution. As long as your pride is more important to you than conflict resolution, you’ll be at odds with people. To de-escalate a conflict, avoid making accusations and/or demands.

If you want people to respond positively to what you have to say, try saying it politely. Making demands tends to increase hostility. Politely offering suggestions helps to de-escalate it. Being persistently polite is pragmatic. It motivates people to respond positively to you.

To convince someone of something, you need to see from his perspective; to antagonize someone, you don’t. Learn to be kind, even when you don’t like someone’s attitude or appearance. Refusing to listen to the pain that drives someone’s anger, extends conflict,

Try this simple, yet powerful response to hostile words. Kindly say, “It feels like you’re trying to provoke me.” To over-react to someone’s words is to allow yourself to be manipulated by them.

Reactive listening is selective. It only wants to hear what will justify an angry response. Blame blows up friendly conversations. Attacking someone’s character will greatly increase conflict. People tend to get angry if they feel like you won’t consider what they have to say.

When you don’t feel a need to be right, it’s much easier to avoid angry conversations. A powerful way to de-escalate an argument is to use self-deprecating humor.

If you try to win an argument by demeaning someone, he will probably retaliate and escalate the argument. Resorting to hostility and disrespect is the sign of a poor negotiator. Trying to intimidate people rather than negotiate with them, is the way to surround yourself with continual conflict.

It’s better to use information and negotiation to find solutions, than to use accusation and anger to stir up conflict. If we take the time to logically think through disagreement, it can reveal concealed ways to heal our divisions.

A courageous, sincere apology is a powerful tool for de-escalating conflict. Consistent kindness is capable of turning an foe into a friend.

Depending on how you handle it, disagreement can lead to either conflict or creative solutions. Conflict can be handled either in a defensive, emotional way, or a detached, rational way.

It usually takes more courage to listen to people than it does to argue with them–to learn from them rather than correct them.

Words can escalate or de-escalate disagreements. Freedom of expression doesn’t mean the unrestrained escalation of angry words.

About Steve Simms

I like to look and think outside the box. In college I encountered Jesus Christ and I have been passionate about trying to get to know Him better ever since. My wife and I co-lead a non-traditional expression of the body of Christ in Nashville based on open participation and Spirit-led sharing. We long to see the power and passion of the first Christ-followers come to life in our time. I have written a book about our experiences called, "Beyond Church: An Invitation To Experience The Lost Word Of The Bible--Ekklesia" that is available in Kindle & paperback @ http://amzn.to/2nCr5dP
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2 Responses to Practical ways to overcome divisiveness

  1. Jon says:

    I seem to have been blessed with the tendency the take a long time to speak. Drives some to distraction.

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