For Conflict Resolution, Switch Your Focus
“Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.” (Philippians 2:4-5 NLT, second edition)
When you meet someone to resolve a conflict, you first have to confess your part of the problem. Then, you need to listen for the other person’s hurt and perspective.
We think we argue over ideas. But we actually argue over emotion. Any time there’s a conflict, somebody got his feelings hurt. Somebody felt abused. Somebody felt slighted. It’s not the ideas that cause the conflict. It’s the emotion behind the idea.
Hurt people hurt people. The more people are hurting, the more they lash out at everybody else. People who aren’t hurting don’t hurt others. People who are filled with love are loving toward others. People who are filled with joy are joyful to others. People who are filled with peace are at peace with everybody else. But people who are hurting inside are going to hurt others. They’re going to lash out.
If you want to connect with people, you must start with their needs, their hurts, and their interests. If you want to be a good salesman, you don’t start with your product. You start with your customer’s need, hurts, and interests. If you want to be a good professor or pastor or anything else, you start with people’s needs, hurts, and interests.
Philippians 2:4-5 says, “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had” (NLT, second edition).
Are you often so busy trying to get the people you’re in conflict with to see your position that you’re not listening to theirs? You’re too busy speaking and not listening and, as a result, you move further and further away.
You need to intentionally switch your focus from your needs to their needs. Conflict resolution starts with the way you look at the situation. The word “look” in Philippians 2:4 is the Greek word “scopos.” It’s where we get the words “microscope” and “telescope.”
“Scopos” means to focus. The next verse says your attitude should be the same as that of Jesus Christ. You are most like Jesus when you’re focusing on the hurts of somebody else rather than your own.
There’s an old Chinese proverb that says, “Seek to understand before seeking to be understood.” When you’re focused on the other person’s needs and not your own, you’ll be able to get a better understanding of the situation and move forward with resolving your conflict.
Talk It Over
- How did Jesus set an example for us for how to look out for others’ interests?
- What are some ways that you can practice showing concern for others’ needs?
- How do you need to prepare yourself before you go into conflict resolution so that you are prepared to listen and focus on the other person?