Bosses Don’t Give Gold Stars: Address Conflict
When performance, reputation, budgets, and deadlines are all in the mix with your colleagues, you can count on experiencing conflict. The first thing you need to know about conflict on the job is that you don’t need to take it personally. Most of the time, you are disagreeing about a process, a task, or a function. This is not about you as a person, as much as it may feel that way. Keep your reactions (and later thoughts about them) contained around the particular issue and not the history of everything that’s ever happened.
The second thing you need to know is the Gospel empowers and equips us with the words and framework we need to confront people and achieve resolution. In fact, the conflict resolution process outlined in Matthew 18 is exactly the process you need at work:
If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church (Matt. 18:15–17).
The point is, go privately and directly to those who have offended you. Go with a genuine desire to understand their views and see the breach healed. Go asking questions, with the assumption you could be wrong. If you can’t reconcile on your own, get the next appropriate people involved. At work, this may be your boss or your human resources director, as appropriate. Only involve those who are or could be part of the solution. Then if that doesn’t work, you must appeal to the larger authority. But it should begin with the private conversation. Adding it to the gossip mill around the office, even to your best bud at work, is not seeking a biblical solution, nor does it protect your job.
What can be hard to understand is that, at times, conflict is a gift to you from your loving Father. It can expose your own weaknesses that He wants to correct. That is never comfortable, especially when weaknesses in the office are public. But if handled properly, conflict can lead to reconciliation and stronger working relationships.
Our natural tendencies to either go on the attack to defend ourselves or to retreat to protect ourselves never fare well. It takes calm courage to call out conflict, but it can produce amazing results. It takes maturity to look someone in the eye and calmly ask about the tensions or offenses without getting defensive. The spiritual bonus is that your humility can make a positive impact for the Gospel.
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