I had to make a tough phone call this afternoon because I knew the person on the other side was not going to be happy when I denied their request. I began to imagine the potential hostility I might receive when I told them “no”. I began to play out the conversation in my head, forming responses to their attack. I created strong defenses for each possible accusation.
The problem was that I was posturing myself for an unfriendly conversation. They would certainly sense my defensiveness as soon as they answered the phone. I had already created a situation that would inevitably lead to conflict.
Fortunately, I caught myself before I dialed the phone. I began to consider their circumstances and developed empathy for the stress they must be under. I built up my compassion for their unenviable position,
Then, I called with a posture of understanding rather than one of defensiveness.
When they answered, I immediately shifted into sympathizing for their situation. I apologized that I could not help them and asked if I could pray for them. The call ended with warmth and appreciation rather than frustration over being told “no”.
Now, it’s over and done rather than becoming a pressure cooker of frustration (for them) that could explode sometime in the future.
You can solve conflict before it starts. Do not engage others until you have compassion for them and empathy for their situation. When you can do that with honesty and humility, you will become an outstanding “conflict avoider”!
Thanks for listening.