Several days ago, Practical Stuff for Pastors: Dealing with Conflict released, and I have two copies to give away! Today’s blog includes an excerpt so you can enjoy a taste test. It’s not just for pastors! If you are in any type of leadership, you’ll find many helpful (and very practical) tips throughout the book. Whether you keep it for yourself or give it as a gift, all you have to do to be entered to win is leave a comment (on the blog or Facebook). I’ll contact the winners at the end of the week. (This is one of three books I’ll be giving away this week, so check back daily!)
Recognizing Red Flags
What are the best indicators that a problem is brewing? When you see one, what should you do? When is it better to quietly watch, and when do you need to quickly confront the issue? How can you understand the way conflict works so you don’t get easily frustrated and overwhelmed?
Red Flags That Conflict is Coming
No two conflicts are exactly the same. No single red flag is a guarantee that conflict is coming. You might see a combination of factors or one red flag that is powerful enough to indicate a firestorm ahead. When you keep these warning signs in the back of your mind, you’ll connect the dots earlier in the conflict process and be able to address issues more quickly.
- Consistently longer meetings. Long meetings might simply indicate many agenda items, or inefficient meeting management. However, when meetings consistently get longer, drawn out, and draining, it might be a sign of discontentment, which can quickly lead to conflict.
- Quiet disunity among leaders or volunteers. Sometimes things seem to go well during meetings, and the minutes reflect general consensus. However, when informal “meetings after the meeting” grow longer and more frequent, there is cause for concern. Support for dissenting opinions may quietly snowball until they become the main topic of conversations in and out of official meetings and committees.
- Lack of focus. When leaders spend their time maintaining status quo, conflict is often brewing under the surface. It might take a while to see problems, because most people like the relaxed coasting process. Eventually, someone will see the need to change and develop the courage to question the way things are going.
- A buzz of whispers. Everyone seems fine when they personally speak to you, but you notice glances and whispers. People begin to avoid you. Bad sign.
- Repeated questions and phrases. As people gather support for their cause, they repeat the same conversations with a variety of people. In your conversations with individuals, you’ll notice many of them using the same phrases or asking the same questions. This is a sure sign a small group of people have been stirring up others’ support and discontentment.
- Wide open back door. It’s normal to lose a few people and families from time to time. However, when you see a sudden increase in people leaving, including those who have been committed for a long time, you need to follow up and ask questions as to what issues they might have been experiencing.
- Key volunteers step aside. Some might tell you why they are resigning, while people who prefer to avoid conflict will quietly step down. Transitions are ongoing, but when there are spikes of resignations, be sure to investigate.
Excerpted from Practical Stuff for Pastors: Dealing with Conflict. Copyright © 2015 Group Publishing, Inc. group.com
(This chapter includes additional sections on The Process of Conflict, What Should You Do?, Red Flags for Avoiding Conflict, and The Green Flag of Conflict. Other chapters in the book include Understanding Conflict Styles, Moderating Disputes, Handling Prickly People, and more.)