Focus on the Family

Tips and Tools for Healthy Conflict Resolution

Conflict is everywhere – in your home, workplace, church and community. Your response could make or break the relationship.

by Mary J. Yerkes

Do you find yourself at odds with a close friend? Is a co-worker trying to undermine your credibility with your boss? If so, you are not alone. Opportunities for conflict are everywhere—in your home, workplace, church, and community. Your response could make or break the relationship.

Pamela Conrad understands the difference a biblical response could make. Several years ago, she received a letter from her mother-in-law that contained "20 years of pent up anger." She had just buried her 35-year-old brother who had committed suicide and was recovering from pneumonia. Unable to reach her mother-in-law by phone, Pamela sat down to write her a letter. "I prayed it would be constructive and that I could rise above the hurt and anger to address her concerns and fears," explains Pam. The result? "Today we are friends," says Pam. "This was a hard turn-the-other-cheek lesson for me, but it had a wonderful outcome."

Author and Christian counselor Leslie Vernick works with people like Pamela to resolve conflict in their relationships. She instructs clients to pray, prepare, and practice. "Pray about it," says Vernick. "Pray for wisdom, humility and the right words. Then prepare." She suggests they write out what they want to say and practice saying it over and over again. "One of the things I tell people when they're practicing is to rehearse in their heads ways things could go wrong," she says. This way, when you hit a bump in the conversation, you're prepared to steer the conversation back on course.

Tips for Biblical Conflict Resolution

Skill and practical tools for resolving conflict are important. But, according to Ken Sande, author of The Peacemaker—A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict and president of Peacemaker® Ministries: "As important as practical skills are, the focus always has to be on motive. If our desire is to honor Christ, everything else will follow."

Keeping that in mind, here some practical tips, gleaned from professional conciliators, that can help you resolve personal conflict:


1Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend, How to Have That Difficult Conversation You’ve Been Avoiding (Grand Rapids: Zondervan0 2005), 51.