Drawer Trigger

Approaching Conflict Conversations

1. Tension Development 

Here, there is often a feeling of "loss of freedom" in a relationship. Steps to intervene include an emphasis on communication. The following steps can be applied:

  • Initiate dialogue
  • Reflective listening: message, feedback, confirmation/correction
  • Honest communication: honest feelings, accurate and specific behaviors, how behaviors impact issues and relationships

2. Role Dilemma

Sometimes there are changes in a relationship that cause tension. Here, problem solving can be an effective tool in addressing those changes. Some steps to take could include;

  • Initiate opportunities for people to communicate, involving all parties or reps in conversation
  • Assess what the problem is
  • Negotiate disagreements by looking at options
  • Decide on option and work it through
  • Covenant internal commitments to agreements reached

3. Injustice Collecting

When we "injustice collect," we often justify our own positions while attacking others at the same time. Sometimes checking our interior motives is the best tool we can use. One might look at the following:

  • What are my attitudes/motives?
  • Review communication from tension development and problem solving from role dilemma
  • Focus on issues -- establish ground rules

4. Confrontation

If conflict is not handled in the early stages, confrontation can erupt. One must take seriously the goals, desires and feelings of others as important to them even though you might not agree. Here, one must go back to an issue and problem solve.

5. Adjustments

The final stage in conflict must be adjustments in order to end confrontation. Internal commitments must be made to keep agreements by all parties. Some questions to ask include the following:

  • What have we learned about ourselves, relationships, our group, our org?
  • What would we do differently next time?
  • What are the tension points that are signals for us?


Norman Shawchuck, How to Manage Conflict in the Church, Vol I and II