What is the first thing you look for when walking into a conflict?
I always want to acknowledge that there are many different thoughts and emotions in the mix. There are various perspectives on any event or conversation and it’s vital to name this with people: None of us see things in exactly the same way and the only one who has the monopoly on truth is God!
I am always trying to see what is going on in the network of relationships. It’s not helpful looking for the ‘single cause’ or the ‘problem’ person as conflict always happens in relationship.
In general terms, are their differences between the way women and men deal with conflict?
I wouldn’t want to offer any generalisations as so much depends on the context. However, I would say that personality is very significant.
In your opinion, how would you rate clergy at dealing with conflict?
Again it would be unhelpful to generalise. As with all things, some clergy are superb at dealing with conflict whilst others are busy adding to it! What is important is that all clergy recognise the reality that they will frequently find themselves in situations of conflict.
Can you suggest some good self-care in the midst of conflict?
It’s important to remember that you are not the Saviour of the world. Know what you have to take responsibility for and what is not your responsibility. Having someone outside the situation who will simply listen to you and your feelings is important. Don’t allow the situation of conflict to be the lens through which you look at everything else in life. Keep it in perspective and don’t allow it to dominate every hour of every day.
Spending time with God to simply ‘be’. It’s not always easy to let God be God when in the midst of conflict!
What priorities guide you when seeking a resolution?
If I am helping others seek a resolution then it is important to remember that it is their resolution and not mine. I am not there to fix it – I am there to enable people to hear one another and to provide a framework within which they can agree a way forward.