“Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.
Conflict is inevitable, and it is the way in which we handle it that makes or breaks a situation or relationship. We believe that conflict can best be managed when all perspectives are heard, and we use a process of disciplined reflection to uncover the roots of conflict and its effect on those involved. Because everyone is given a chance to be heard, he or she feels more invested in resolving or managing the conflict. Servant-leaders manage conflict by:
• honestly exploring the true sources of conflict;
• asking questions and being willing to be changed by the answers;
• summarizing and restating positions;
• accepting people even when disagreeing with positions;
• taking care that the group’s highest needs are being served;
• looking for learning opportunities; and
• understanding that conflict is normal and expected when working in a group and helping others understand this to reduce anxiety and fear related to conflict.
To help understand a conflict better, ask yourself the following questions:
• What was the visible conflict about and who was involved?
• What do you believe was the real source of the conflict?
• What might you have done to address the conflict if you had understood the source differently?
For more about conflict and servant-leadership, consult the Gabriel Center’s curriculum, Becoming a Servant-Leader.
Mark Elberfeld, President