Conflict

Raise Your Hand if You Hate Conflict

Raise Your Hand if You Hate Conflict

Back in 2015, Matt and I took a trip to visit Lakewood Church in Houston, TX. After hearing many opinions about said church and pastor (both negative and positive), we decided to hop off the gossip train and check out all the hearsay for ourselves.

Visiting that church was such a life-changing, healthy experience for us that I decided to blog about it afterward. 100,000+ views and multiple shares later, I found myself asking my husband to shut down the comment section on the website.

In a matter of hours, we were called everything from false prophets to undercover church attendees who were paid to ghost write an article. I had no idea who these people were. They knew nothing about me outside of content in the blog.

Still, I was sick to my stomach for days thinking about the fact that there were people in this world who disliked or even hated me, and I couldn’t do anything to change their opinion.

After asking Matt to disable the comments, I remember lying in bed with the covers over my head. I was disappointed in myself for the lack of courage and resiliency present in my life.

While most would take pity, my reaction more sense in the grand scheme of this not being a one-time event, for the sick feeling deep in my core wasn’t new or adverse. Rather, this sinking sensation had become like an unwanted friend; it was the same familiar companion that came around anytime I had a conversation with someone that involved opposing views.

While my psyche could blame it on the blog, I knew this is who I was on the inside all the time – someone who was afraid of any type of conflict. My initial instinct to conflict was always to first run and hide, similarly to what I was doing at the time under a heavy comforter in a dark room.

Last week, Matt described three categories of people that we all fall into when it comes to conflict. If you’re like me and can raise your hand after description No. 1 (people who try to run from conflict), then welcome to the club.

It’s a non-confrontational party where problems find no solutions and leaders don’t grow in their capacity, yet we all remain unoffended and passive. Sounds great, right? (Some of you are probably screaming, “Yes!”)

In my mind, conflict was always associated with anger. Conflict meant broken relationships. Conflict was connected to a power struggle. These connotations had stemmed from a plethora of examples in my past.

While all true examples, they were not healthy examples. Though unaware of it at the time, staring at the ceiling that evening was the start of my journey toward health in conflict.

Unwilling to allow things to continue the way they were, here are the practical steps I took to gain courage, confidence and competence toward resolving peace with others.

The $30 Phone Bill That Forever Changed How I Handled Conflict

The $30 Phone Bill That Forever Changed How I Handled Conflict

After a few weeks of training I was finally transitioning to the “floor.” Oh yes, … the floor.

The floor was where we made money. As a “sales consultant” for one the largest technological companies, my job was simple in theory. All I had to do was push products on the sales floor and make the company money (which in turn makes me money).

I grabbed my iPad from the back and swung open the door. I glanced up at our T.V. screen which had a list of people waiting for a representative. I approached the next customer who we’ll call Bob for this story.

I approached Bob. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous – this was my first customer interaction on the clock after a few weeks.

“Hey Bob, my name’s Matt – how can I help you today?”

“You idiots went up on my phone bill from $29.43 to $30.02.”

“Okay! Let me check that out for you.”

“Hurry up. I’ve been here for 10 minutes. You people are always so slow.”

The next 30 minutes was eventful. His increased charges were due to a government telecommunication tax that effected everyone who owns a cell phone.

I explained this to him in detail, but he wasn’t satisfied. My patience quickly wore off as I glanced over his account and noticed he had $125 of bill credits every month because he was an “accelerated customer” (he complained a lot).

I looked at Bob and said, “You know, most people pay $150-200 a month for a plan like yours. You should be grateful to pay $30! That’s not normal today.”

Apparently, I misspoke. Bob cussed me out for being arrogant and rude. He proceeded to tell me he saw a phone online he can pay $10 a month for and have unlimited data. Being facetious and knowing he had no idea what he was talking about, I fake smiled and said in a condescending tone – “Man, that sounds great. You should totally do it!

Bob caused a scene, left our store, and despite much chuckling coming from my peers who heard the whole exchange I quickly found myself in a meeting with our manager.

At this point in my life, I had recently transitioned from a full-time ministry job. I wasn’t all that likeable as a person and, in fact, I hated people (for the most part). I handled this situation of conflict just like I would at my previous job.

I arrogantly told an individual they were wrong and waited for them to get over it. Yeah, that’s not ideal in life – or you know, in a church setting. I chalked up my conflict resolution skills from my upbringing – “I’m from Boston. We’re all rude.”

Let’s be transparent here. I still do believe I was right most of the time, but my approach was off. My pastor frequently says this – “You can tell me anything, you just have to approach it the right way.”

On the first day on the floor, I was brought down to the reality that the way I handled conflict was deeply flawed.