Managing Conflict

Where conflict is likely to arise, and how to deal with it.

Potential Areas of Conflict

Expectations: Each person arrives with different sets of expectations of what will happen or not happen in this small group.

Personalities: As much as we would like to avoid it, there are certain personalities that do not mix. All are coming to the group with different needs, interpretations, history, and personalities. We can't expect them to always get along well just because they are Christians.

Participation Patterns: Quiet and dominant group members need to be handled individually as best you can. Use all possible leadership skills to draw out others.

Meeting Formats: Study, prayer, and fellowship are basic areas. You may hear the phrase, "We need to …" Agree with one another early in the group's life what the general purpose of the group will be. Write this into a covenant. Be open and direct with any change.

Leadership Skills: Some problems, especially with specific personalities, may be beyond your skills. Someone may not agree with a leader's style. Try to adjust as much as possible (within reason), but be open. And be a leader.

Administration Details: Who will do what? What about time and length and place of meetings? What about other details, such as child care? Work them out!

Attempting to Deal With People in Conflict

Recognition: "I sense you are upset." "We need to deal with this difference of opinion." Conflict cannot be dealt with until it is recognized and brought into the open.

Personalization: Do not place blame; instead, put people at ease. The easy way is to attack people rather than deal with the actual problem. Make problem solving natural for the group. Expect it and welcome it as an element of growth.

Clarification: Define the exact nature of the problem and openly ...

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