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I’ve seen a lot of conflict – couples in conflict, parents and children, church members. While in North Africa, I witnessed the first blows swung in a fist fight – between employees of a fast food establishment! If there is one universal in the human race, it is conflict – from Adam blaming Eve for the Fall and one of their sons murdering his brother – to Armageddon. One thing I’ve learned – and wish I had learned it a long time ago: the way I respond to the person who is angry with me will either escalate or deescalate the tension. A soft answer does turn away wrath. Ron Edmonson gives a no-nonsense, easy-to-remember response when you are backed into a corner. It comes from elementary school.

Stop

Stop and think. What is the best approach? What do you really want to accomplish? Based on that, how should you respond? The opening moments are always critical in any conflict. You can quickly back someone or yourself into a corner. Cornered people move into a self-protection mode, fail to react rationally, and the sense of what’s best is lost. It requires practice, but take adequate time to plan the best way to approach the other party. It may require you being silent when your prone to speak, but this one step often avoids much of the unnecessary and unproductive conflict. (As an example, Jesus took time to make a whip before driving the money changers out of the temple. John 2)

Drop

Drop the right to win. When you come into a potential fiery situation with a have-to-win attitude you cloud your ability to work for the best results. Self-centeredness always gets in the way of healthy conflict. Be humble and agree that you are going to do what is best, even if that means you don’t get your way. This doesn’t mean you give in to the other party, but the goal in conflict should not be to win personally, but to reach the best solution for everyone.

Roll

Roll out the best approach. I realize it takes two or more people to make this happen, but when one party is willing to do the first two it makes accomplishing the best so much more likely. Go into every potential conflict with a humble desire for the best solution to be accomplished. Avoid an unnecessary fire. Don’t come out swinging.

 
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