Response to Conflict - Lesson 4

Communication Skills for Resolving Conflicts

In this lesson, you'll explore the intricacies of conflict and learn how to effectively respond to it. You'll gain an understanding of the different types of conflict, their causes, and the strategies that can be employed to resolve them. Throughout the lesson, you'll be introduced to various communication skills, active listening techniques, and ways to cultivate empathy and emotional intelligence. Additionally, you'll learn about conflict resolution methods, such as negotiation, mediation, and arbitration, and how to prevent conflict by building trust, practicing effective leadership, and fostering a positive environment.
Chuck Coker
Response to Conflict
Lesson 4
Watching Now
Communication Skills for Resolving Conflicts

I. Recognizing the Importance of De-Escalation

A. Understanding the Origins of Conflict

B. The Role of Adrenaline in Escalation

II. Steps for De-Escalating Conflict

A. Active Listening

B. Acknowledging the Issue

C. Identifying Common Goals

III. Identifying and Handling Triggers

A. Truth Triggers

B. Relationship Triggers

C. Identity Triggers

IV. Techniques for De-Escalating Yourself

A. Labeling and Tabling Triggers

B. Practicing Self-Awareness and Self-Regulation

  • Dr. Chuck Coker invites you to his conflict response program, emphasizing conflict's role in personal growth and spiritual development, promising transformative change.
  • In responding to conflict, it is crucial to understand its origins and how it evolves as conflict is instrumental in a well-functioning team or ministry, but handling it can be daunting. Conflict usually starts with a misunderstanding that can cause anxiety to escalate, leading to a fight or flight instinct. Constructive conflict can be a powerful trust-building tool, but it is essential to identify conflict in its early stages to avoid it getting out of hand.
  • Conflict can be a team-building opportunity when well managed. To effectively manage conflict, recognize it as a communication breakdown that needs to be addressed, rather than avoided. Recognize that not all conflict can be resolved, but use it as a motivator for change. Building trust through strengthened relationships will enable you to manage conflict and achieve personal growth.
  • Through this lesson, you gain in-depth knowledge of five key conflict response styles, comprehending their motivations, strengths, and weaknesses, and how to navigate conflicts effectively using this understanding.
  • Gain knowledge about conflict types, causes, resolution strategies, and prevention methods to effectively handle conflicts in interpersonal, intrapersonal, and organizational settings.
  • Gain insight into conflict types, sources, and biblical resolution principles, while learning strategies like communication skills, problem-solving, reconciliation, and fostering a peaceful church culture.
  • Gain insight into biblical conflict resolution strategies, emphasizing active listening, empathy, and humility, and explore the vital roles of forgiveness and reconciliation in healing.
Dr. Chuck Coker invites you to his conflict response program, where he'll share his 35-year experience teaching conflict resolution and its importance in personal growth. Using the strategies adopted by major corporations across two continents, he'll guide you through understanding, resolving, and learning from conflicts. He aims to help participants develop into the individuals God intended them to be, all while drawing on scriptural examples. Joining this program promises transformative life changes and personal development.

Dr. Chuck Coker
Response to Conflict
Communication Skills for Resolving Conflicts
Lesson Transcript

[00:00:00] Well, welcome back. It's good to have you for this next section. So we've taken quite a journey so far about finding out where conflict starts, what it looks like and how it actually appears, and different behaviors and mindsets. But now that we know these things, the next step is how do we de-escalate conflict when it starts getting out of hand? Because if we don't know how to do that, we never get to the good stuff. Remember our saying conflict is good. It tells us when something is amiss. So let's focus now on how do we get the situation to just calm down a little bit? Well, difficult conflict is especially daunting when it comes to a position where it's hot. You know, the shouting match that erupts in your hallway, the employee or staff members who rushes angrily into your office. The nasty phone call or email from a colleague. You see, we can still learn a lot from these situations if we're ready, if we're prepared. But we first must de-escalate them so that we can actually figure out what the core of the problem is. So here's the steps that we want to follow. [00:01:42][102.2]

[00:01:43] First of all, we got two ears and one mouth. So what do we do? First, we listen. We actually dig into what is going on because let's go back to the whole concept. The first four of eight stages occurs in another person's mind before you even hear about it. So they are already escalated. Their adrenaline level is already up. And depending on their behavioral and mindset styles, they could be way up here. Or they could just be here where it's much easier to negotiate. So when we listen, regardless of how tense the situation is, the negativity in the environment or the behavioral style allows us to look for valid concerns. [00:02:45][61.2]

[00:02:47] Understand the situation from the other person's perspective. This is critical. Remember, self-awareness is understanding our self from another person's context, and self-regulation is being able to regulate the way that we proceed through that process. So if we don't look for valid concerns and understand from another person's perspective, it's not going to help because we can interrupt them. We have to let them get it out. And then once they've got it out, now's the time to ask questions. Let me tell you why. There are only two ways that you can answer a statement. You can either agree with it or disagree. But when you ask questions, you bring clarity to the situation. And when you bring clarity, you no longer have to try to persuade someone. You know whether this can become a collaborative situation. [00:04:06][78.8]

[00:04:07] So step number two is just acknowledge that there's an issue. Acknowledge the rift. It's okay to point out when a conflict has become personal, because if it is personal at this point, you have to think about something. You have to think about what elements of your personality may have actually caused it. And you have to be willing to say, I get it. You know, maybe I didn't say that right. Maybe I didn't use the right approach. But you use those questions that you're asking and the clarity that has actually been gained to minimize your words. And here's one thing that's very hard for all of us, especially if you're married, is to apologize. Yes, there was my fault. I know that's hard, but it's necessary because you only have one shot. That first shot that comes out is going to be the one that can begin to neutralize the anxiety, lower the heartbeat, and bring the cognitive ability back to a level to where you can actually use your brainpower to build a collaborative effort. [00:05:37][90.0]

[00:05:40] Third, we want to identify the common goals because when you work together with a person. You both are supposed to be headed in the right direction. And regardless of of what your ministry does and tries to accomplish, you're trying to accomplish the same things. So what are the common goals? You know, Joe, you know, Mary, we both want people to be saved. We both want to feed the hungry. We both want to do the things that are necessary to help the foster children program that we have going on in our church. So what have we got in common? Because people work together best when they find that common ground. But they have to listen to the other person and be able to articulate the common goals that you have. You know, we're both working towards this foster children's program. And yes, you're supposed to be screening the parents. But I interviewed those parents. So let's find a way that after you screen those parents, you help me identify some of the questions that I need to be asking and use their words. It's it's almost like you've got a high "I" in front of you. You're mirroring their behaviors so that all of a sudden now what, you become more acceptable to them. And you illustrate the fact that you are respecting their ideas and their comments after an apology, and you show that you're respecting their ideas and their comments, things are going to begin to de-escalate. You see the. Other person may not be the only one who needs some de-escalation. You might yourself. Because what? They came into your office, You got blindsided. Your adrenaline level went up, and all of a sudden, maybe it's you just needs de-escalation just as much as the other person. [00:08:16][156.2]

[00:08:17] So it's normal to get heated. It's normal to be defensive during a disagreement or argument. But you can't allow it to become counter-productive. You see heated reactions take us away from a place of wisdom. And isn't wisdom something that God has given us through our spirit if we ask for it? I think someone like Solomon or David said that. So why do we have them? And what can we do about wisdom? Well, first of all, we have to remember that conflict often makes us feel threatened. And that triggers that adrenaline level. So what we have to do is begin to identify what those triggers are, because those triggers cause emotional impulses that keep us from handling conflict constructively. So let's talk about some of these triggers that you're going to experience so that when they happen, you're not caught off guard. And folks, this is very, very important that you understand this, because if you do, it takes the angst out of the conflict process and it allows you to de-escalate much quicker. [00:09:59][102.0]

[00:10:00] So think about it this way. Let's talk about truth triggers. Truth triggers are actually set off by the content of the feedback that the person's given to you. Let me explain that. A truth trigger may happen when someone brings what a misunderstanding to you that has caused them to feel like there's internal conflict with you. And guess what? It may originate with the step one that we talked about in the conflict continuum. And that's a misunderstanding. So if it is set off by a misunderstanding, you can solve that almost immediately by saying, Could we take just a quick timeout because I want to explain something to you. I think that someone may have given you some misinformation. And if they have, I want to set the record straight, because if we can do that, then you and I are back on the same page. So would you share with me what that content was that was shared with you? And let's see if it's really as challenging as we think it is right now. [00:11:31][91.2]

[00:11:33] The second thing is there are relationship triggers that are actually tripped by the person providing the feedback. Now, let me give you an example of that. There are people, regardless of how much everybody loves Jesus and everybody's working together in the ministry, that we would just not have dinner with once a week. There are people that are extremely talented and that we respect, but they're not our best friends, and it becomes much more challenging if it's one of these people that is kind of at an arm's length rather than someone that is over at our house on weekends, or that we take vacations together. To quickly trip that trigger. So if it's a person. That. Is somewhat distant or that you don't have that relationship with. Then you may flare up a little bit inside. Now, I want to give you a statistic. The most important thing that you can do during feedback is understand that the information coming from someone that you may or may not like may not necessarily be detrimental. One of the things that I've discovered in the research that I did with DePaul University was the fact that a person's ability to coach or train or develop another person requires that they take constructive criticism from a person that they may not respect very much. So here's the thing. If God orders our steps and puts us in situations with people that we may not have as much respect for as our good buddies, it doesn't mean that the information that they are bringing to you is not valuable. So when someone approaches to you to bring back some of these triggers that you're not familiar with, that you're not real happy with, or that you may not have an opinion with, take a deep breath, count to ten and say, How can I help? What is the challenge that you're facing? Because they may already have a solution before they even open their mouths. [00:14:32][178.9]

[00:14:34] The third thing is identity triggers. Identity triggers. Help us relate to our own sense of self. And here is where that happens and challenges us the most. You said something to somebody. You taught this. You did that. And so all of a sudden, what happens? The old ego begins to kick in. And what we want to make sure that we don't do is allow our ego to overrule good and valuable information simply because they do not feel that we have done something properly. The other thing too, is as you grow and develop. In your spiritual walk, you have to become accountable. Because intimacy in Christ and in the Spirit can only come through accountability. So when someone approaches us and seemingly attacks our sense of self, there may be a reason behind it. And now you have a person that is literally displaying the love of God in a way to help you grow and develop. So you cannot get that anxiety level up simply because someone has brought something to your attention. That may actually help you grow. [00:16:22][108.1]

[00:16:25] So let's continue with our whole concept of de-escalating yourself. So when the conflict erupts, it's almost certain that one of our triggers is going to be activated. But it does not mean that those triggers need to dominate our response. So how do you deal with that? Well, the first thing is label it with what kind of trigger it is that's been set off and table it for just a minute. You have to identify what it is. Acknowledge the fact that it's a trigger that got your heart beaten fast and accept what is being said, whether it be truth or falsehood, and move on with the discussion rather than escalate the discussion. How do you do that? Well. Being an extrovert myself, I have found that if I just breathe and know that sounds very simplistic to you, but take a deep breath, count to ten and said, Lord God help me one Lord, God help me to breathe. And what happens when we breathe? Our heartbeat begins to calm down a little bit. And then when that heartbeat has de-escalated enough, you can say. Let me deal with this for just a minute and I'll get back to you on it. You won't have to wait long, but sit down and write it down after you breathe. Sit down and write what has happened. And here's what I assure you is that as you write you will begin to see perhaps the other person's side. You may see something that you missed or you may actually see a solution. How do I know that? Well. Studies have shown that the one thing that increases our intelligence the most is journaling and writing. When we write it down, we literally make our brains smarter. And if. After getting that down, you could do something that will help you even further. And that's go out and exercise. Walk. Run. Lift weights. Do something. Because what that does is that takes the natural physical tension out of your body and allows the brain to get back to a point to where you're reasoning in a way that is going to be helpful rather than hurtful. So. We have to know now based on our response style, how to de-escalate ourselves. [00:19:53][208.3]

[00:19:55] Not everyone has the natural predisposition to seek a win win situation. And you know what? That's okay. That is okay. No matter what your dominant or fallback response styles, you can learn to respond as a collaborative partner. Let me give you an idea of how to de-escalate each of the response styles and respond like a collaborative partner. So if you're an assertive competitor, don't deny your responsibility. So you know what? I was wrong. And you know what? An assertive competitor is the type of person that if they can get to this point, not only will they gain respect, but they will be able to respond much more quickly and find reasonable answers. Then after you do not deny your responsibility. Communicate instead of demand so that you can build an alliance with the other person. Because you want to avoid intimidating people because every psychological study illustrates that fear only works for a certain amount of time. Once the person has had enough, they quit and they go away. So trying to invoke fear in people is not going to work long term. And guess what? You may lose some of the very best people that you have in your ministry by trying to intimidate and be the winner in every case. Just take a break. Label it and table it. [00:22:05][130.2]

[00:22:07] Now let's move on to the avoiding appeaser. We know. That the avoiding appeaser is just trying to make people happy, keep it quiet and just fly under the radar. Well, quit trying to please everybody. God gave you knowledge. He gave you understanding, and he gave you some wisdom for a purpose. Take responsibility for what's going on, but also take into account your knowledge on the subject. It's valuable and if you don't share it, guess what? The rest of the team suffers. Come on, folks. Think about it. You're not dumb. You wouldn't be on the team if you were. And if you hold back and don't share the insight, wisdom, knowledge and experience, as well as whatever the Holy Spirit's telling you at that particular time, you are damaging other people, not just yourself. [00:23:26][79.1]

[00:23:29] Now let's move on to that compromising negotiator. De-escalating a compromising negotiator requires that that negotiator doesn't avoid the subject just because there's personal differences going on between the people. They have to be willing to deal with the issue. And you know what? It's okay. But if you don't deal with it, it will only get worse over a period of time. And the longer you put it off, the worse it's going to get. So take the time to reach a solution that gets rid of the issue. If you don't, the team is going to be malfunctioning and it's going to continue the storming process. So think about it this way. If you don't avoid the subject because of personal differences, you can reach that lasting solution by simply focusing on the goals of the team. That way you are not hurting the team and you're not putting something off that really needs to be dealt with. You are actually collaborating with the experienced people that are headed in the same direction that you are. [00:25:08][98.7]

[00:25:10] Now, last but certainly not least, we want to talk about the cooperative, accommodater and what they need to do. First of all, to avoid thinking of the subject as a lost cause. There are no lost causes. For God so loved the world that he gave us his son. For who? For the world. There are no lost causes. No matter what we think, no matter what we see, or no matter whether where we find ourselves, we can't let go of our goals. And that is to bring people through the ministry that you work with to a place and a position to where they possess the peace that passes, understanding we can bring them in because it is necessary. Don't just try to soothe other people's feelings. Get to the root cause. It's the problem with medicine today. We're treating symptoms. We're not getting to the root cause, and that requires accountability. So we cannot let go of our goals. We cannot avoid a subject or think that it's a lost cause. We have to do our research and see if it's reasonable and possible. Because all things are possible through Christ. So, our co-operative accommodater can be de-escalated if we remember that no one is a lost cause. We take those calls, especially with feelings are on the line. Because remember, 70% of the world is subjective. They want to know how to feel. They want to know how to experience. So we have to find causes instead of soothing feelings. It's like getting to that core issue and analyze if the direction that you're on will actually produce results. And results is what we're after. Because people of every response style need to be mindful of their natural instincts when a conflict first breaks out. It's only then that you can get the information that you need to decide on the best response to what's happening. [00:28:29][199.4]

[00:28:32] Now. When we think about de-escalating conflict with these different styles. I'm sure that you have questions. What are those questions? [00:28:44][11.7]

[00:28:46] Would you say that humility, having a humble spirit and truth aren't mutually exclusive, especially when it comes to responding as an elder or as a staff member, people that are bringing things to you? How important is it to not only to stand up for the integrity of your team as you're interacting with people, but also using this as a ministry opportunity to help bring along somebody that may have a misunderstanding or something where it's a situation where it's important for them to see what God's doing in the church, in your church, and in their life. [00:29:48][62.6]

[00:29:50] Absolutely. I think it's important that we go back to the Scripture and remember what was said is that God will what exalt the humble. Humility is the key. I've mentioned it before in previous lessons. 54% of a person's ability to grow and develop regardless of the truth triggers, whether it's truth, triggers, relationship triggers or identity triggers is to remember that a humble spirit is going to allow us to listen. Acknowledge the rift and identify the common goals that are there. This is love. It's that oil that keeps the machinery running. And love requires that we remain humble because we may be good at what we do, but we will never be God. We are in the learning process, the sanctification process while we were here. Otherwise God would have graduated us. So I think you've said the key word. It's humility. Based on our love for other people that will allow us to de-escalate any conflict. If we approach it humbly. The situations that you're talking about assume a conflict between you and the person you're talking to. What if, in situation number one, the conflict is with somebody else that is not present at the time? How do you deal with that as an elder or a staff member? Okay. If I understand you correctly, what you're asking is when conflict is brought to you and the person is not present who initiated the conflict, how do you deal with that? Yeah, I think the most important thing is to identify through the people that brought the conflict to you, where they stand. So what I would say is that I can understand your concern about the situation, and if I was in your situation, I would have the same questions that you're bringing to me now. [00:32:29][159.5]

[00:32:31] Here's what I'd like each of you to do. I would like for you to begin to identify, number one, what you feel the root cause of the core issue is with the conflict. Second of all, I would like for you to share why you think it is important and critical for me to address this. And third of all, if you feel that it is such an important issue, do you personally have any ideas or solutions that you think might be helpful as we address this since the other person is not here? And then what I will share with you is what I feel the role is that I might have played in initiating this conflict and give you my opinion of the solutions that you've presented and how we can resolve this collaboratively. [00:33:34][62.8]

[00:33:36] At what point would you think it's necessary to involve the third person? If this person. Has significant feelings, but they have not come to face you, they have literally brought it to someone else to deal with it may not be a core issue to start with, number one. Second of all, if they are not willing to face you with the situation and the conflict, it may be more of a distraction than a real issue. And if it is more of a distraction, I think that's going to come out in your interaction with the people that have brought that to you. However, if that does not solve the issue, then I think the people that brought this information to you must bring the other person in so that it can be identified, whether it is a true core issue or whether it is a personality issue. [00:34:48][72.5]

[00:34:50] In your experience and in your research thinking of conflicts that can't be solved, what were the major issues at stake but what kept it from being solvable? That's a good question, because unsolvable conflict is where the conflict is present to either dissolve a relationship, prove a point, or something along those lines. Normally, conflict that cannot be resolved is something that a person has a fixed mindset about and they are not there to solve the conflict. They are there to bring it to the surface and do one of several things either embarrass you, make it a bigger issue than it is, or whatever the situation might be. Unsolvable conflict is something that I have found in my experience to be something that is a problem going in that was never intended to be solved in the in the first place. [00:36:05][75.3]

[00:36:07] In other words, some people like conflict and they have no intention of letting it be solved. That's correct. You've got to think about a person that has a very high D and very individualistic coming into a situation. They are there to make a point more so than to deal with the conflict, and they want things done their way or it's the highway. You've heard that expression, I'm sure. [00:36:07][0.0]