Guest blog by Darren Adwalpalker, Senior Pastor, South Bay Church of God, Torrance, CA

Principle six: Step down the voltage. 

As I was leaving the church recently, I noticed the electrical substation across the street. Signs are posted all around it with this warning: voltage 9DANGER

Keep Out!

Hazardous Voltage Inside.

Will shock, burn or cause death.

I’d just been through a difficult conflict and reflected on how being in conflict resourcefully is similar to the way an electrical substation processes electricity.

A substation receives high-voltage energy and transforms it into low-voltage energy—which safely powers our homes, heating, lights and lives.

Just as the raw energy entering the substation has the power to cause harm, so the raw emotions we experience in conflict have the power to destroy relationships.

Here’s my four-step process for “stepping down the emotional voltage” that’s often present in conflict. After a recent difficult conversation with someone who told me they’d be leaving the church, I opened my computer and worked through these steps:

1)      What happened?

  • What was the nature of the conflict or disagreement?
  • What was said?
  • What were the other person’s criticisms or complaints?

I try to write these down as objectively as possible.

2)      What are my raw emotions?

  • Here, I allow myself complete freedom to feel my emotions and capture them in writing as honestly as I can. I might write that I felt hurt, angry, let down, frustrated or sad.
  • I write down any judgments I’m carrying and the stories I was making up about myself or the other person. Such stories might be “Perhaps I’m not a good leader” or “That person is being selfish.” What’s really important here is honesty. We seldom give ourselves permission to express the raw emotions we’re feeling. Once we do, we’re a step closer to turning that raw energy into something helpful, not harmful.

3)      What’s closer to the truth?

After writing out my raw emotions and any stories I’m making up about the situation, I’m able to think much more clearly.

  • I can then step back and look at the situation more objectively.
  • I’m able to more clearly see my contribution in the conflict without having to own it all myself.

4)      What are my next steps?

  • After this process, I’m now ready to consider my next steps. Perhaps:

A follow up conversation.

Prayerfully releasing it to God.

Writing a letter to express gratitude.

The next time you are in a difficult conflict, work through these steps and see if you can “step down the emotional voltage” into something useful.