Handling Confrontation Well

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“What’s your problem *%#@$?” – a profound question. I’ve thought about it frequently. On this particular occasion, I had been trying to parallel park. The driver behind pulled up, wound his window down and asked me that question, before driving off very fast.

In many ways, he handled conflict well , getting 6 out of 7 steps right – He acknowledged it with clarity and passion. He took initiative quickly. He didn’t talk behind my back to other motorists. He spoke to no one but me. His summary was direct – there was no confusion of what he thought or felt. But he missed the last important step.

Jesus said “If your brother or sister sins against you, go and show them their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.”

Firstly “If…”. To be alive means occasional conflict which needs dealing with rather than running away from. Secondly Jesus says “you”. Whether the problem is your fault or the other person, as soon as you become aware of it, Jesus expects YOU to take responsibility for resolving it.

Thirdly “go” – approach, don’t avoid them. Avoiding conflict destroys friendships, marriages and families. Go straight away – although if you are getting madder and madder, don’t be like Jim Carrey –and get dumb and dumber. Cool off and then go! Ask yourself “Why am I angry?” and “what do I want?”

Fourthly no third parties, no phone a friend, no gossip. Go directly to the person involved and fifthly use sensitivity. Jesus said “between the two of you” – don’t embarrass them in public. Listen and talk to them the way you would like them to talk to you. Six is “show them” – be direct. Tell them what is wrong, how it made you feel and what you would like to see changed for the better of both of you.

Unfortunately, the driver that confronted me missed this last step – aim at reconciliation. “If he listens to you, you have won him over”. Aim to restore the relationship – rarely simple and never quick, but always worth it.

I wrote that article for our local newspaper’s thought for the week. It is basically a condense of a chapter from John Ortberg’s excellent “Everybody’s normal until you get to know them



Andy Moyle is a church leader and web developer. His biggest project is the Church Admin WordPress plugin and app. He also runs, mainly so he can eat pizza.