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Stepping Stone to Right Relationship – When There is Conflict

Exceptions to Using This Document

  • When the conflict is with a staff member, meet with the staff member directly if agreeable to both parties or through the Ministry and Personnel committee.
  • If the conflict is with a decision made by a committee or Council then you should meet with the appropriate Chairperson to express your concerns.

Step 1.  Explore and Reflect

  • What am I feeling and why?
  • Are there personal issues from the present or the past that may be adding to my feeling of conflict and discomfort?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how important and urgent is it to me to solve this conflict?
  • Do I want or need to resolve this conflict?
  • Am I ready to talk about the facts and feelings with the other person?
  • You may want to explore your own conflict style. There are several available sites on the internet to help you with this.

Step 2. Personal Preparation for Discussion

  • Write down the facts, your concerns and feelings about the incident.
  • Try to set feelings of anger aside. Try to use “I” statements to clarify your own impressions of the incident or situation.
    • For example, “You never listen to anyone, and you’re not really listening to me now”, can be turned into “I feel that my concerns are not being heard”.
  • Identify what you think the issue or problem is.
  • What do you need to make it possible to resolve the problem?
  • Consider speaking with a mediator first (Go to Step 6), if you do not feel safe, OR to help you prepare for Step 3.

Step 3. Invite a Conversation

  • Let the other person know this is important to you.
  • Invite them to discuss your concerns with you or with a Parkminster mediator,*but be prepared that the other party may refuse your invitation.
  • Agree to meet at a time convenient to you both, in a quiet but neutral place.
  • Listen carefully to the other person’s side of the story, their concerns and what they need from you
    • For example, repeat their words back to them (“What I hear you saying is…”).  Ask questions to clarify information (“What did you mean when you said…”).  Don’t interrupt, let the person finish their thought.
  • Present your side of the conflict and your needs in a calm and orderly manner.
  • Be prepared to accept that there may be different points of view.
  • Seek to understand how the other person views the conflict and their point of view instead of getting what you want or seeking to win.

Step 4.    Agree on the problem

  • Discuss the current issue, not past issues.
  • Focus on the problem only, not the person’s character or personality.
  • Avoid attacking or blaming others for this conflict.
  • Together agree on naming the problem.

Step 5.    Brainstorm Creative Possibilities 

  • Try to shift from a “Winners or Losers” to a “Winners and Learners” mindset.
  • What are you willing to do to meet each other’s needs?
  • What next steps can you generate together?
  • What next steps seem most workable? Most satisfying?
  • Which next steps would improve the relationship?
  • If appropriate offer apologies, accept apologies and practise forgiveness.
  • Do you need to involve a mediator as a next step?  If yes, go to Step 6; if not, go to Step 7.

Step 6   Involving our Parkminster Mediators *

  • Call a mediator to set a time to discuss your situation personally, OR
  • If you are both agreeable to mediation then one of you can make the contact with one of the mediators. The mediator must be acceptable to both.
  • The mediators are listed below and their contact information is available in the church directory or the church office.
  • The mediator will discuss next steps with you.
  • Parkminster mediators work in twos, to increase effectiveness of mediation.

Step 7   Negotiating toward Resolution

  • After exploring and discussing your options, agree on solutions that meet both your needs.
  • Discuss how and when these solutions will be met.
  • Talk about what can be done to prevent this conflict from recurring.
  • Agree to check in with each other to ensure that there has been progress in solving the problem.
  • If the agreement is not working out, go back to step one, or consider involving a mediator (See Step 6).

Step 8 Acknowledge and Affirm 

  • Thank each other for meeting over a difficult issue and taking steps to right relationship.

* Parkminster Mediators: Roxy Linkletter, Ted Oldfield, Kathy Shortt, & Kevin Smith

Mediators will work in pairs. The initial mediator will discuss with you which other mediator should be involved.

This document is a work in progress.  Suggestions are welcome!


1. The Conflict Resolution Network  (Contains a wealth of resources!!!)

2.   5 Steps to Conflict Resolution by Erin Foord, OCDS.