Rain showers and scorching sun can be likened to conflict and difficult people. Disagreements or conflicting points of view can cause us to be at odds with each other to such an extent it feels like we’ve been caught in a major rainstorm or 100-degree temperatures. These are the times when the UMBRELLA approach to handling conflict and difficult people comes in handy. This approach will encourage you to take responsibility for your attitude and behavior, and act as a shield and shade to help you handle encounters with difficult people.
Make an attempt to understand the other person’s frame of reference. Deliberately search for insight and discernment. (Proverbs 10:13)
Manage conflict while it’s occurring. Look for the underlying concern. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted by minor spats or unrelated issues. (Matthew 15:18-19)
Try breathing slowly and deeply to regulate stress producing adrenalin. Control your anger and take a break when conversations get heated. (Proverbs 14:29)
Remain calm and adopt a non-defensive posture. The ability to be calm in the face of conflict will help you think more clearly and carefully. (Proverbs 10:19)
Go directly to those with whom you disagree or have a conflict. Avoid behind-the-back criticism. If this fails, then ask an objective third-party to act as facilitator in resolving the conflict. (Matthew 18:15-16)
Be quick to listen and when listening do so carefully. Check out what you heard before responding. Be slow to judge and speak. Avoid name-calling and threatening. (James 1:19)
Enter into each conflict situation with a learning mindset. Ask yourself, “What can I learn here? Do I need to change my behavior or offer an apology?” (Proverbs 23:12)
Conflict is a normal part of life, so accept that it will happen and most likely happen often. The people we find the most difficult are also those who offer the greatest opportunities for growth. (Luke 6:44-45)
Wherever conflict exists, no matter what its cause or reason, poor communication has played a key role. You are responsible for deciding how you will respond to conflict and difficult people. The UMBRELLA approach along with good communication will ensure that you don’t get wet or suffer sunstroke!