How does one deal with conflict? A question all of us must face in our daily lives because conflicts are a part of life. We encounter people we don’t like because they rub us the wrong way, express opinions we find reprehensible, or exhibit behavior that we find rude. Whether in the workplace, at home within the family, in our neighborhoods, we will encounter situations of conflict.
Many, if not most of us, choose to run away from conflict, not addressing the issues involved. We naturally do not like confronting people we have a problem with and would rather ignore the issue. But we oftentimes don’t ignore but gossip and whisper behind the person’s back. And we like it when we get other people on our side of things to feel the same way about the person we don’t like or with whom we have issues.
In the gospel today, Jesus gives us the best advice on how to handle conflict and situations in which we feel wronged by another individual. First, talk to the person directly, a form of confrontation that can either be productive or harmful, depending upon how one confronts. If done well, usually things work out. If not, and it’s important enough to your well-being, talk about it with another person, getting a different perspective. Have a dialogue with the person again. It might be necessary to carry it further by bringing it up to a person who is in a responsible position within the community.
If everything fails, and you're dealing with a situation that is not illegal or life threatening, treat the person as though they were an outsider... create psychological distance with the individual. Sometimes it may be having as little contact with the person, even if that person is a part of your family. It’s a part of life to be involved in situations you have no control over and results will not get any better. Prayerful distance might be the best result.
Running away from conflicts is rarely the solution. If anything, things usually get worse. Admit the problem...pray... confront... get another opinion... pray...confront again... if it doesn’t work... distance... pray.