In recent days I have had my share of brushing up against chaotic and conflictual relationships between individuals or groups. What I have seen is messy, probably unnecessary and certainly painful but it got me thinking of the many ways that we can create unnecessary and painful chaos in relationships.

One. Triangulate with others instead of going to the source. When I share my issues about another person with anyone other than that person, I have brought them into my issue and often into an alliance with me against others. When you think about that, how crazy is that! It does not solve the problem but rather enlarges the circle of those who now have problems but who cannot solve them because their problem is a problem by proxy (actually our problem) but not theirs.

Two: Copy emails about conflictual situations to those who are not involved. Of course once you do that they are now involved and often others get inadvertently roped in. Why do we copy emails to people who have not business getting them? It is usually a power play or a way to bring in others to "our side" and it certainly enlarges the circle of mistrust, doubt and information.

Three: Sharing second or third hand information. Second hand information is not usually real information. At least it is often highly suspect because no matter what if it is second hand we don't know all the facts but just some of the facts. We ought not share what we don't know about another person's experience. 

Four: Going on a crusade against another individual or group. There are people who believe that they need to solve problems that they are not in a position to solve but they go on a crusade to do so anyway. I am not talking about a "whistle blower" situation but especially in Christian circles, taking matters into our own hands to take care of situations that are more likely the purview of a church or ministry board to deal with. There are many dysfunctional situations I may know about but do nothing about because they are not my purview to solve. 

Five: Planting seeds of distrust against another by sharing gossip or even "facts" that they can do nothing about. If people need to know, the right people need to know, not the wrong people. Too often we don't discriminate on that score. 

Six; Ignoring issues that we are in a place to deal with and the responsible person. Often, leaders who are conflict adverse don't deal with issues they know are problematic and therefore allow the dysfunctions to spill over among others. This is the source of much pain in the local church when leaders choose not to confront behaviors that are problematic.

Seven: Not telling people the truth. Truth should be shared graciously and only with the right people but if we have issues we need to share those issues in the right way and at the right time. Then we need to leave those issues with those who are in a position and who have the responsibility to do something about it. What they do is not my responsibility. Being honest with them is.

Eight: Demonize those who disagree with you or who are the objects of your unhappiness. It happens all the time in Christian circles. We divide the world into good people and bad people, righteous and unrighteous. Is life that easy? and which group would we be in? In this world view we are in whatever group someone else puts us in. Life is not that easy. Good and Godly people can do and say unfortunate things but it does not make them worthy of demonization.  We ought to be happy that Jesus does not see us that way.

Nine: Taking up someone else's issue as ours. Another form of triangulation. Your issues are yours and mine are mine. I can give you counsel or take your counsel but the issues are still either yours or mine. When I take up your issue, I get involve in conflict that is not my own. I am always ready to mediate conflict but I do not want to get involved in the issues of others that I cannot solve.

Ten: Being unwilling to be a third party to solve relational difficulties. "Blessed are the peacemakers" says Jesus. What would happen if every time we heard there was conflict we offered our services to seek to resolve the conflict rather than get involved in the conflict itself. The world would be a different place.

All of T.J. Addington's books including his latest, Deep Influence,  are available from the author for the lowest prices and a $2.00 per book discount on orders of ten or more.
  • Jan 17, 2015
  • Category: News
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