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Miranda Writes: How to Be Good and Angry, Part 3




by Omar Miranda



For the past two weeks we’ve been dealing with the issue of anger. Today, as we finish up, we’ll learn how to manage conflict with others effectively. Before you can even think about approaching someone else to solve a problem, you must first have both self-control and self-knowledge. Many conflicts are made worse when, although meaning well, you attempt to solve a conflict without understanding how you feel about it.

I want to show you that as a Christian it is possible to be good and angry. The only way we can do that, though, is to learn to deal with our anger responsibly. God always wants us to deal with the things that make us angry. But we don’t have to lose our religion in the process. In Ephesians 4:26, 27 God lays out how it’s possible. “Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil.” Let’s break it down even more:

• God commands us to express our anger.

• God commands us to express our anger appropriately.

• God commands us to take steps to begin to resolve our anger before bedtime.

Let’s get really practical. Before we try to address any conflict, there are some realistic things we need to figure out:

1. With whom am I angry?
2. What should I do?
3. How should I deal with it?
4. When should I deal with it?

The answers to those questions will be in the last section. Everybody deals with conflict, but not everybody deals with it well. I’m sure you’ve watched your share of Cops episodes, haven’t you? Or even any daytime TV talk show. The airwaves are, unfortunately, littered with examples of people who don’t know how to manage conflict effectively. So I’d like to discuss ways by which we can do it effectively.

First things first, let’s define the word: conflict—a competitive or opposing action of incompatibles; an antagonistic state or action (as of opposing ideas, interests, or persons).

Now that we know the definition, let’s talk about the process:

Step One: Find the Right Time

I know it sounds silly, but you may need to schedule your conflicts. Don’t ever try to solve issues under these five conditions. They can be remembered by the acronym HALTS:

Hungry
Angry
Lonely
Tired
Sick

Step Two:
Set the Scene

If appropriate to the situation, agree to some simple ground rules: everybody gets to speak uninterrupted, no name-calling, no blaming, stay on subject, and if people get too upset, they can take a break. Make sure that others understand that the conflict is the problem, not the person, and that you’re trying to solve the problem because you care about having a better, more respectful relationship with that person. Emphasize the fact that you’re presenting only your perception of the problem. There are three guiding principles here: be calm, be patient, have respect.

Step Three:
Gather Information

Remember, listening is not agreement. Here you are only trying to identify the underlying interests, needs, and concerns. Ask for the other person’s viewpoint, and confirm that you respect their opinion and need their cooperation to solve the problem. Try to understand their motivations and goals, and how your actions may be affecting these. Also, try to understand the conflict in objective terms: is it affecting family relationships? disrupting family cohesiveness/togetherness/teamwork/decision-making? Be sure to leave personalities out of the discussion. Listening can help you see the conflict from the other person’s point of view. In others words, seek first to understand, then to be understood.

Identify issues clearly and concisely. Begin your statements with the word “I.” Use active listening skills, such as good body language (leaning forward slightly, making good eye contact, lowering your voice, and slowing down the speed of your speech). Paraphrase and summarize (repeat back what you heard the other person say to make sure you heard both the feelings and the facts).

Step Four: Agree on the Problem

This sounds silly, but often different underlying needs, interests, and goals can cause people to perceive problems very differently. You’ll need to agree to the problems that you’re trying to solve before you’ll find a mutually acceptable solution. Sometimes different people will see different but interlocking problems—if you can’t reach a common perception of the problem, then, at the very least, you need to understand what the other person sees as the problem.

Step Five: Brainstorm Possible Solutions

If everyone is going to feel satisfied with the resolution, it will help if everyone has had fair input in generating solutions. Brainstorm possible solutions and be open to all ideas, including ones you never considered before.

Step Six: Negotiate a Solution

By this stage the conflict may be resolved. Both sides may better understand the position of the other, and a mutually satisfactory solution may be clear to all.

There are really only three types of solutions:

• win-lose: one person wins and the other person loses (remember, the other person is not the problem).

• lose-lose: you both lose. Nobody wants this one.

• win-win: you both win. Everybody wants this one.

In the midst of this process, you may also have uncovered real differences between your positions. This is where a technique such as win-win negotiation can be useful in finding a solution that, at least to some extent, satisfies everyone.

Let’s show our fellow Christians, and non-Christians too, that there’s a better, happier, healthier way to live. Let’s seek to live our lives good and angry.
Until next time, remember these things: God’s way is always the best way. Life is full of decisions, so make yours good ones. Put God first in your life, and you can’t go wrong.

Feel free to contact me: you can e-mail me at omiranda@rhpa.org; or you can keep up with me on Facebook; or you can read more of my stuff on Miranda Writes, at www.insightmagazine.org.

In Christ,
Omar Miranda, editor, Insight Magazine

Omar Miranda is the editor/director of Insight Ministries and a Christian counselor and with more than 20 years’ experience working with youth in public and private middle and high schools. He’s married and has two kids. He enjoys teaching the youth at his church, reading, writing, gardening, and camping. He’s a recovering knucklehead who spent a lot of time in the past doing stupid stuff away from God. He’s been back with God for years now and is eager to share what he’s learned from his experiences by answering any questions you may have about life, the Christian life, Jesus, spiritual matters, and relationships in his column, Miranda Writes.
 





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