Conflict Management

During a morning session with my children, I said to them, "I have spent the last ten years providing you with training for your future. Yet in all those years I have never taught any of you to do wrong, but no matter what I do, you still continue to do wrong. Where is this behaviour learnt?" They replied, "Television, friends, relatives and school." Their response was no surprise, after all that is where I learnt also.

We experience conflict in every walk of life. Conflict is:

  • War
  • A clash of opposing ideas
  • A struggle
  • Disagreement
  • An inner struggle
  • An irreconcilable impulse, desire or tendency
  • Division
  • Discord
  • Rivalry
  • Hatred

Everyone that is alive today has only a few days to live, and our lives are full of trouble. Where does strife, discord, feuding, war, division and rivalry originate? Does it come from the atmosphere, the air we breath, water we drink, or food we eat? No my friends, they come from the desire that wars within us. There seems to be an irresistible and uncontrollable war that floods our minds and causes it to operate as a battlefield. Is your mind a war zone? Are you at peace with everyone and yourself?

Sometimes the war in our mind continues for hours, days, weeks, months, years and in some cases a lifetime.

Some of us have been hurt by friends, strangers or relatives and we never forgive them and probably never will. Every time we think about the hurt they caused, our feelings and hatred are relived, even though the incident took place over ten years ago.

Hatred is something I do not possess, because hatred is a disease that is too much of a burden for me to bear. When you hate someone, you are the one carrying that disease in your mind and heart. It eats away at you like cancer. It seems to have a life of its own by taking hold of you, its victim, causing you to do things that you may or may not want to do. The person you hate may be ten thousand miles away and you may not have seen that person for the last ten years, or the person may even be dead. Yet the hatred is still alive and as real to you as the time s/he hurt you.

With this disease inside of you, you begin to snap at your spouse, children, friends and work colleagues. At times you are irritable, miserable and find it hard to cope.

Some have even lost their jobs, friends and loved ones. It is therefore easy to understand how hatred causes more damage to the person carrying the hatred, than the person who is hated. Stop hurting yourself. It is more beneficial for you to forgive and love than to spend many miserable years with hatred eating you away.


How do you deal with conflicts in your home? How do you deal with conflicts in your organisation? Do you deny that you have conflicts? Do you try to hide it? Do you blame others? Do you become angry, frustrated and depressed? See conflict as a challenge to your ability and a stepping stone to achieving your goals, then take responsibility and immediate steps to resolve them.

One of the most powerful conflict management and decision making techniques was taught to me by a Mr Len Holmes. I had the honour and privilege to sit at the feet of Mr Holmes for three years. During that time I became qualified as a training specialist and learnt many other skills. Mr Holmes and I worked together within the community to build, from nothing, Europe's most prestigious and largest multi-million pound community centre of its kind. It now stands today as a memorial to what individuals can achieve with no educational background or finance if they agree on a vision and work as a team. This book is full of techniques that we used to build that centre, which incidentally was launched by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. I have used this simple and powerful technique for over ten years and have never experienced failure and sincerely believe I never will. This technique can be best remembered using the memory aid, FACE RAP.




Conflict is like a tree that begins to grow from a single seed. In good moist ground and sunlight it grows slowly and matures fully grown into a tree, that produces fruit in abundance. If you cut away the branches and destroy the fruit, the tree remains alive, with the potential to reproduce branches and bring forth further fruit. If you cut down the stem of the tree and leave the root, the tree will still grow. To destroy the tree you must first locate the root - the fault and "root" it out completely. Only then will the tree die.

Fig 1.1 represents a minor conflict that was not resolved, but was left to grow and mature, producing negative fruit in abundance. The fruit of war, division, murder, hatred, lying, adultery and many more. Notice also that such trees are firmly rooted in the ground, spreading their roots far and wide. Not only is it difficult to locate the root of conflict, but conflict that is left to grow are mountains to destroy. Think how much easier it is to cut down a small plant in comparison to a fully grown tree.

When you recognise conflict, locate the root cause immediately and destroy it. Do not let it mature and produce ill-fruit in abundance and more importantly, if you let the sun go down before you resolve it, you may regret it. Become like a detective in a criminal enquiry. First, you would need to ask questions, listen, round up all the facts; second, examine the evidence; finally, solve the case.

Many show off their achievements, PhD's and other qualifications, yet they cannot find and destroy the root of their own conflict.

Conflict Management

Fig 1.1 "Has your conflict grown out of control?"


The appearance of conflict is in fact the symptom. Symptoms indicate that something is wrong. How did this conflict come to your attention? Was it something you saw, heard, felt, smelled, or tasted which gave the indication that something was wrong? What was the sign and how did it manifest itself? Maybe it was the look on your partner's face, or cry of your child, the scratch on your car, the pain in your stomach, the swelling on your hand, the flood in your bathroom or your child's school report. The appearance or symptom tells you that something is wrong. The appearance is the fruit or branches of the tree, it is not the root of the tree.

All professionals such as doctors, police, probation officers or arbitrators use the appearance as motivation to locate the real root cause of conflict. By treating the symptom you are only temporarily relieved. Now that you have investigated and are absolutely certain something is wrong, listen with empathy and be genuine, accepting, trustworthy, encouraging and sensitive.


There seems to be always someone or something that causes discomfort. At this stage your job is to find out who or what it is. A group of people or an individual perhaps? Was it the storm, or simply the rain or lightning? Was it the government or your organisation? By locating who or what causes the conflict puts you in a better position to find the motive and root of the matter.


Conflict carries with it "an effect". Sometimes the effect is minor, but on other occasions it can be quite severe even deadly. Ask yourself:

  1. What effect has this conflict had on me, my family, friends, colleagues, the community or even the whole nation?
  2. If I were to leave this conflict unresolved, what effects would it have on my family, friends, colleagues, the community or even the whole nation?
  3. Would today's conflict that remains unresolved cause tomorrow’s conflict? Yes!

A wise man once wrote, "Never let the sun go down while you are still angry." Before the day is out do your very best to resolve the conflict. "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." Today we can see the effects of the actions of others as it destroys individuals, families and communities. Are you a part of the solution or a part of the conflict?

There is conflict that has taken place in some countries that has affected human beings worldwide.


At this stage you need to identify who is responsible for taking the appropriate action. The responsibility is dependent upon the type of conflict and may rest with more than one person. If a child is not performing well in his/her studies the responsibility may rest with the teacher, parent or even the child. Once the responsibility has been realised, the next thing to do is to take action.


You have now become like a judge who has listened carefully and patiently to the prosecution and the defence. You have asked questions, weighed up all the relevant facts and taken into consideration the evidence. You have listened to all the witnesses and are now fully enlightened about the whole situation. You are now in a position to take action.

But first! Brainstorm ways in which you could resolve the conflict. Then evaluate each idea, choosing the best one. Trust your judgement, you will know what is best. From time to time review your actions to see if this was the right choice, if not change it if you can. Finally, ask yourself, "What lessons have been learnt as a result of this conflict?" "What mistakes have I and others made?"

Do not allow this learning opportunity to pass you by. After all, you want to prevent it from happening again, don't you?


"Prevention is better than cure." "Better a fence at the top of a hill than an ambulance at the bottom of it." These well known words are used often by my partner Michael Wilson, as he teaches delegates on the SCHOLAR training programme. How can I prevent this conflict from ever happening again? Look for ways to prevent this conflict from ever recurring. To continue to make the same mistakes over and over again is a sign of negligence, incompetence and bad time and self management.

"This is the fourth time that I have fallen on this slippery floor!"

Case Study

A fifteen year old girl worked with her father on a one year work experience programme and one afternoon at 4pm was told by her father to go straight home. Upon his return from a meeting at 5pm he noticed that his daughter had not left yet. Angrily he asked her, "Mas, why haven't you gone home?" She replied, "I had stomach problems so before I left, I had to rest." Her father looked at her as she wiped her nose with tissue and thought, maybe she's right. Again, she was sent home. One week later the father received a telephone call from a dear friend, who informed him, "Did you know that your daughter was raped last week?" After questioning the friend, he realised that this incident took place at his work place on the same day that he had sent her home, between 4pm and 5pm. Let us examine this incident in the light of FACE RAP and see just how well it works.


The father lived and worked with his daughter but he could not search for or identify the root cause, because there was no appearance. The appearance or the symptom must first come to the surface. With the knowledge received from his dear friend he decided not to make any assumptions but to call his daughter into a meeting. He used skilled questioning, patience, active listening and controlled his feelings. Eventually his daughter admitted that she was sexually abused by a male friend. The father concluded that had she gone straight home, or if she did not follow the male friend at his request, this may never have happened.

It must be noted that the father's conclusion was only based on listening to his daughter and not the male friend. By listening to the male friend one may get a completely different root cause.

To find the root of conflict, you must be like a skilled surgeon who has to gently cut the wounded patient open, in order to find and remove the problem. The father took several hours with his daughter before he could conclude what he felt the root cause was. The conclusion the father made must not be seen as the root cause of all such cases.


The appearance or symptom of conflict can be revealed through any of our five senses. In this case it was due to what the father heard, that alerted him to the problem. Throughout that week the daughter concealed everything from her family, making it impossible for her to receive the necessary support. If you refuse to ask for help, you will not get it. If you refuse to seek, you will not find and if you refuse to knock, the door of opportunity will remain shut.


Who or what caused the conflict to happen? In this case it was the male friend.


The effect of this incident upon the family was quite tremendous. It caused Mas not to trust men. Bitterness grew towards the male friend as other family members discussed what to do to him, if they found him! Time was lost. Mas was very embarrassed about what took place, she would often cry when she thought back over what had happened. These are just some of the many effects of the incident. When conflict arises, always ask the question, "What effect has this conflict had on me, my family or organisation?" Secondly, "What effect might this conflict cause if no action is taken?" The father felt that if there was no response to the conflict, then this incident could happen within another family.

Sometimes the effects of conflict can be positive. In this case Mas and her father were drawn closer together. When conflict arises, ask yourself another question, "What are the positive points to the situation, or what can I learn from it?" In most adversity there is usually an equal or greater opportunity if we have patience to look for it.


Who is responsible for taking action in this situation? First and foremost, it was the responsibility of the parents and daughter to decide what to do. Once the police were involved, the responsibility rested with the authorities.


After much consideration Mas and her parents agreed to call the police. The male friend was then arrested. He waited until the evening before the trial to plead guilty and was sent to prison for three years.


One may never be able to prevent this type of conflict from happening again. But learning from one's experience, the experience of others and becoming more knowledgeable and wiser is a great preventative measure. Mas and her father spent a great deal of time talking and learning from the conflict and from each other.

The beauty of this technique is that it is simple, very easy to understand and easy to use. The other advantage is that we all use it to some degree. By studying it more closely and applying it to your situations, will bring many benefits. Remember, you deserve the very best for the situations that you encounter. FACE RAP is probably the easiest and the best technique.

Errol A Williams ©

About The Author

Errol A Williams

I am an International Management Trainer with over 36 years’ experience. I have trained thousands of directors, managers, leaders, supervisors, and unemployed people. My passion is to coach one million students to unleash their unlimited potential through personal growth. I was co-founder and Executive Chairman for one of Europe’s largest multi-million pound community complexes, launched by HRH the Prince of Wales in 1988. For over 25 years I have visited, counselled, and ran training courses for UK prisoners. Currently I am a Senior Pastor and Regional Overseer who sits on the National Executive Board for the Church of God of Prophecy UK Trust. I have taught Systematic Theology for over ten years. I am married and have six children and six grandchildren. I am the author of “Pursuing Excellence”, “The Temptation Trap”, “Sowing For A Blessing”, “TIPS For Dealing With Difficult Conversations” and “Building A Dream”. During the 2010 general election I stood as a Parliamentary Candidate. I am a professional photographer, graphics designer, virtual services provider, and web developer. My hobbies include chess, squash, backgammon, and domino. (My Profile)

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


You need to be logged in to see your course progress.

Recent Videos


WishList Member

Powered by WishList Member - Membership Software

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x