Editor’s note: This post has been excerpted from our newest Bible study: Relate. Knowing, loving, and forgiving the people in your life. Check out threadsmedia.com/relate for more information.
The effect of conflict on you and your relationship is impacted by 1) how much that person means to you, 2) the source of the conflict, and 3) how both of you respond. When we face conflict with a coworker, it can be an annoying and persistent burden until we deal with it. But when a spouse or loved one hurts us, it can be heartbreaking.
Psychologists have concluded that everyone responds to conflict in one of three ways: move away (flight), move against (fight), or move toward (peace). Here’s how those three reactions break down:
1. Move Away
The flight response is an attempt to avoid conflict by withdrawing from the situation. Some characteristics of this response include blame-shifting, denial, avoidance, ignoring, and postponing conflict.
2. Move Against
The fight response is a defensive, self-protective response where the motivation is to protect yourself by getting what you want. Characteristics include insults, gossip, aggression, and competition.
3. Move Toward
The peaceful response is also the healthy response, where the goal is restoration and harmony. The good of the relationship is more important than self protection. Characteristics include communication, accountability, mediation, accommodation, collaboration, persistence, and compromise.
Now think about how you’ve handled conflict lately. Which of these three responses is your natural reaction to conflict?
Have any circumstances led you to react differently? Why?