When conflict get heated, try the SCUM way

As I write this post, we are in the middle of an 8-week series at Journey of Life (www.journeyoflife.org) on Resolving Everyday Conflict. The material we are using is primarily from a group called Peacemaker Ministries. (www.hispeace.org). It is really excellent stuff, but I thought that perhaps some people might like a different approach. So I offer you, here, the SCUM process when conflicts get heated:

S — Stop. Be aware that as emotions rise, things happen to human beings. Our judgment gets skewed. Our creativity narrows. Our temper takes us places we don’t want to go. The fight or flight reflex kicks in. Stop and then…

C — Calm down. Do what you need to do to calm down. This is often not just a five minute breather if the conflict has gotten heated. Studies suggest you need at least twenty minutes to move your physiology (your chemicals, arousal state, etc.) to a calmer place. So really do something different for a half hour instead of just taking five minutes to cool off a bit. After you have calmed down, make sure you…

U — Understand. Steve Covey says in “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” to “seek first to understand then to be understood.” So often people talk across each other and they haven’t taken the time to understand what’s really underneath the conflict. Person A should get an amount of time without interruption to share his or her position, including the motivations and emotions behind it, Then person B should ask questions and restate person A’s position, including motivations and emotions until person A agrees that person B understands what’s going on. Then reverse the process so that person A understands person B’s position, including motivations and emotions. Finally, once you understand each other…

M — Move with love. Creatively seek to find ways that both of your interests can be met. The Bible tells us to look out for not only our own interests but the interests of others. (Phil 2:4)

Sometimes sweet phrases fill the air with lovely fragrance as we walk together gently resolving our disagreements. But sometimes not so much. 🙂

SCUM might help you when things get heated. Maybe you and those around you can even agree to call “scum” on a heated argument. When someone calls “scum!” everyone agrees to stop, calm down for at least 30 minutes, work hard to understand the other’s interests and then move forward with love.