2 - Prepare For Conflict

Build a Better Bridge

In the previous section, we established the fact that conflict is unavoidable, but can be a beneficial step toward growth. Now, Jeff speaks about preparing for conflict before it happens. In part 2, he walks through ideas on laying the groundwork now for productive conflict later, as well as knowing one’s own tendencies in responding to conflict. When we know our tendencies, we can manage our natural responses so the conversation can be productive.   

The first step in preparing for conflict is to invest in our relationships well so they are strong enough to weather the storms of conflict when they arise. 

We can build better bridges with others by investing emotionally in someone else’s story, values, and life. When the heavy load of conflict comes, the bridge we’ve built will hold strong. 

Jeff said that when two people are in conflict, the relationship’s history emerges. What are some examples of how past interactions could influence a present conflict?
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In what ways could you invest emotionally in your relationships now to build a track record of respect and care for the future? How could these investments bolster the dynamic of trust when future conflicts arise?
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It is through emotional investment, authentic vulnerability, and the building of relationships that we lay the groundwork for constructive conflict in the future.  

Know Your Tendencies

In this next video, Jeff explains the neurobiological flooding process that occurs during conflict when the brain floods with stress hormones. Every person has a distinct type of distress response.  

It is important to understand how you naturally react when in conflict.  

What is your default response in conflict? How do you typically react?
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Think for a moment about how conflict might look when two people with different types of natural “flooding” reactions are involved. What might the dynamics be between a “Lion” and a “Possum?” What about a “Rabbit” and a “Deer in the Headlights”? How does being aware of different reactions give you more compassion for others during conflict?
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It is helpful to understand that each person has a default response when engaged in conflict. Often, these responses differ from person to person. 

Managing Your Natural Responses

Now that Jeff has explained the neurobiological flooding process that occurs during conflict, he discusses what it looks like to manage your natural responses so you are able to have a helpful conversation and see from the other person’s perspective. 

As Jeff asked at the end of the video, has anybody ever been harmed by how you’ve managed conflict? What happened?
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Proverbs 17:14 (ESV)

14The beginning of strife is like letting out water,

so quit before the quarrel breaks out.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

What are your personal “warning signs” that alert you to the fact you are in a high risk situation, in which a quarrel may break out?
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What tools could you use to de-escalate a flooding response before it hijacks brain function? How might you heed the warning of Proverbs 17:14, and “quit” before the quarrel breaks out?
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It is wise to manage our default responses in order to have the most fruitful and respectful conflict possible.