The term "winning conflict" does not mean winning every argument. Rather, we strive to "win" in conflict by achieving the best possible outcome. Let's look into the insights of Solomon in Proverbs and how he engages in conflict.
1. Understand the Potential Consequences of the Conflict. It is important to understand the possible ramifications of the conflict you are engaging in. After a bridge is burned, it is difficult to win back someone's trust or friendship. This does not mean that you cannot engage in confrontation, however, just be mindful of the possible outcomes that are at stake.
"A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city, and their contentions are like the bars of a castle" (Prov. 18:19).
2. Achieving the Best Possible Outcome for All Parties. The objective of conflict is not to be right or prove someone else wrong. It is to achieve the best outcome for all parties involved. So when you engage in conflict, remember that the whole goal of confrontation is to make things better, not worse.
3. Seek Counsel Before Engaging. If you're going to engage in conflict, it is a good idea to seek out advice from an outside source. Remember, you are just one side of the two-sided coin. So, be wise and seek counsel before you engage.
"Every purpose is established by counsel, and with good advice wage war" (Prov. 20:18).
4. Do Not Answer in the Foolish Manner of Your Attacker. Solomon tells us, "Do not answer a fool according to his folly, lest you also be like unto him" (Prov. 26:4). In other words, don't stoop to someone's level. If the other party in the confrontation attacks you with name-calling or other immature tactics, respond with maturely and if he/she continues to be aggressive then just walk away and let them reflect on their foolishness. We talk about this in great detail in our series Effective & Persuasive Communication.
5. Don't Reveal Confidential Information. In arguments, it comes naturally for us to use outside opinions as ammo to defend our point. These opinions of others are confidential. Breaking that confidence not only hurts your reputation and relationships but also will likely just stir up another conflict. Solomon states in Proverbs 25:9b-10: "Do not disclose a secret to another; lest he who hears it put you to shame, and your reputation be ruined."
6. Never Prolong an Argument. Naturally, we all look to get the last word in when arguing. This will only make things worse and cause the situation to escalate. Solomon says in Proverbs 26:20, "Where no wood is, the fire goes out, so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceases." Looking to get the last word in or get one more jab in on somebody just fuels the fire; without fuel, the fire will cease. Solomon also states in Proverbs 15:1: "A soft answer turns away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger."
7. Give an Unexpected gift. Giving a gift is a gesture that easily dissolves tension. One time, a former partner of mine had upset me to the point that I was ready to end the friendship. The next day, I walked into my office and on my desk was a gift wrapped with a red bow and a card with an apology. This quickly eased any anger I had and our friendship was right back on track. A simple gesture makes a strong impact.
8. Be Quick to Forgive. When someone has hurt us and we are given the opportunity to forgive them, be kind and loving. You will see that it's a far greater burden to hold hatred in your heart than it is to forgive the ones who have hurt you. There is not a more godly act than to forgive. The greater the hurt, the more we can forgive. The more we forgive, the more we build our character as men and women of God.
"Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins" (Prov. 10:12). Steven K. Scott (Steve Scott) is the founder and CEO of Proverbs Power, an educational program where he reveals the 15 strategies from Proverbs that propelled him into success. Insights and strategies that helped him achieve $3 billion in sales with Total Gym & the other companies which he either founded or co-founded. Steve is a gifted Bible teacher, speaker and consultant. You can check out his blog on Success God's Way and follow him on Instagram and Facebook. He is married to his soul mate, Shannon Scott, and they have seven children.
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