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It is obvious that in an environment where there are people, there are always misunderstandings and disagreements. Deborah Smith Pegues in her book Confronting without Offending: Positive and Practical Steps to Resolving Conflict, tried to use biblical approaches to conflicts, analyzed her own experiences and conducted research in an effort to explain what solutions people should think of to handle difficult situations. This work seeks to show how to find the strength to continue relationships instead of breaking them up because, in situations of disagreements, affected parties may not come together and discuss an issue. Therefore, Deborah Smith Pegues in her book, suggests good and appropriate communication strategies that ensure one-on-one discussion and a solution regarding an issue. She does so by outlining the effective techniques that are compassionate in nature for handling conflicts. She also outlines strategies that are practical in nature and can facilitate conflict resolution. In addition, she mentions the various ways in which personality differences affect discussions and outlines the ways of minimizing defensive strategies. Defensive strategies are in most cases employed by people who are guilty but do not wish to admit their mistakes. Deborah also expounds on the various ideas of facilitating and encouraging cooperation. It is important to note that the book gives readers the necessary tools for successful resolving misunderstandings at home, work or even in other social situations.
The book has four parts. The first part deals with confrontation whereby it acts as a bridge to harmony. In this part, Deborah Smith Pegues tells about the goals of having a confrontation and explains the biblical teachings on how to deal with misunderstandings before they become out of control. She continues in this part to state that every offense in a relationship has the potential of causing a permanent breach. This is the reason why she defines confrontation as the act of having the affected parties coming together face to face in an attempt to solve an issue. She expounds on how one-on-one discussion concerning an issue can be used to facilitate cooperation in case of a disagreement. In the second part, she expounds on how biblical examples can be used as a strategy of management of conflict. In this section, she attempts to explain the various biblical styles of resolving conflicts. Some of these styles include the dictatorship, which emphasizes the “do things my way” attitude. It also includes the accommodator style that emphasizes the “have it done your way” attitude. The other styles involve the abdicator style that emphasizes the “runaway” attitude, and, finally, the collaborator style that emphasizes a mutually agreed solution. The author explains that all these styles are applicable depending on the situation in question. Part three of the book gives the strategies for facilitating effective confrontation. These steps include preparing oneself for the encounter, accepting one’s own problem, speaking out the right words, listening to someone else’s explanation, negotiating the future tolerable behaviors, and, finally, releasing the offender. In the fourth part, the book deals with the whole issue of confrontation and various ways of handling personality temperament. Attempts are also made in this section to explain how personality profile helps an individual to understand the strengths and weaknesses associated with natural behavior in confrontation. Pegues (2008) explains how an individual’s personality can be a great hindrance in an attempt to resolve misunderstandings.
When I was reading this book, it just reminded me of an incident with my mother when we were in total disagreement to a point that we could not talk to each other. I remember this happened during one of the December holidays when my friends and I organized to attend an overnight party at one of my friend’s home. However, my mother has always believed that as a student who is still under her influence, I should never go out and spend the night somewhere else other than at home. About one week before the party day, I informed her of my intentions to enable her to give me time to explain what the party was all about. At that time, I was expecting several questions about the party from her. Initially, she agreed to let me attend the party, but the last day before the party she changed her mind and denied me the opportunity. She claimed that she was not certain what kind of guests would go to the party, and she was afraid that something bad might happen to me. I tried to convince her but she could not allow me to go, and, finally, she yelled, “attending the party is at your own risk; once you do that, don’t come back to this house”. Those words hit me so hard that I just decided to forget about the party and stay at home. As a result, I just decided to keep quiet and never talk about it again, and from time to time, as she did anything, I could hear her saying, “foolish young people trying to explore life by attending overnight parties”. Such words really hearted me as I was neither able nor willing to confront her at that moment.
Indeed, the book is good as it teaches us to handle issues by confronting individuals in the proper way without offending them. However, there are two major issues that I do not agree with. The first one is its target of Christians only and the second is its encouragement to confront people other than encouragement not to dwell on the past. The book emphasizes the biblical values, which is clear evidence of it targeting Christians only. As such, the main concern is what will happen to non-Christians? Is it that non-Christians should not read the book? If non-Christians read the book, of what benefit will it be to them? This is so because they do not know the biblical values. In my option, this book is somehow biased in favor of Christians only. This shows that if Deborah Smith Pegues could incorporate both the non-Christian and Christian values and styles in facilitating issues resolution, the book could be better than it is at the moment. It is also worth noting that the book emphasizes confrontation as a strategy of resolving an issue in the right way. However, in real life, the majority of individuals have been taught that confronting somebody whenever there is a misunderstanding is not a good thing. Instead, it makes you be far apart from one another. Therefore, it may not be a good piece of advice to confront somebody, especially in situations where the affected parties are proving difficult. Deborah Smith Pegues in her book should have mentioned alternative strategies in situations where the affected persons are not willing to have a dialog or no one is willing to confront or face confrontation. I believe that this way, Deborah Smith Pegues would have been able to attract more readers of her book.
In every occasion, whenever there are disagreements or misunderstandings, it is important to find a solution. This will help ensure that the affected people heal over time, and those mistakes that led to the misunderstanding never to be repeated again. In my case, I have always had a problem of not having enough courage to confront somebody whenever we have a misunderstanding. This is due to the traditional ways that we have been taught, according to which we should not confront somebody but, instead, accept, forget them and move on. However, after reading this book, I can now comfortably confront somebody in the right way without offending anyone. The main issue that I normally have is with my mother who does not like having me away from home, claiming that she is not sure of my safety outside the home. From the book, I have picked an idea of how important it is to confront an individual in the right way whenever there is a misunderstanding. When we are on holiday this year, I will make an attempt to request my mother to allow me to attend an overnight party with my friends. It is expected that she will not agree with my request, i.e., confrontation. First, I will request some time to express myself about the issue, and also, I will give her time to explain whatever the negative perception she could be having with me being away. Some of the steps I will follow when confronting her include, firstly, a request to attend an overnight party because if I go against her wish as such, it will create a misunderstanding. Hence, I need to prepare for the encounter. Secondly, I will accept the fact that she does not like having me away at night; hence, I will face the problem. Thirdly, I will tell her that indeed it is true that she is not sure of my safety away from home at night and I do not intend to disrespect her opinion. However, she should be willing to understand my point and allow me to have fun with friends with an assurance of my word of being back home early the following day. Furthermore, I would request her to speak on the phone with my friend’s mother to confirm that indeed there is a party in her house and that the safety arrangements are made. Then, I will listen to her options on that and make sure that we discuss my requests in the future to ensure that it does not repeat some other day. Finally, we will be in good terms as I believe that at the end of the confrontation we will find a solution that will be appropriate for both of us.
In conclusion, it is important to note that indeed confrontation as a strategy to solve an issue can be either good or bad. This depends on the approach employed by the affected parties. For instance, it can be bad if individuals confront one another with intentions of commencing a fight in case they totally fail to agree. As such, confrontation will be seen as being a bad approach. However, in a situation where confrontation is done in a proper manner and is followed by the relevant steps and styles, it can be as well a good approach that can be admired by the majority. Therefore, after reading the book, I strongly believe that confrontation in the right way is actually the best strategy of addressing a misunderstanding of any form or issue at work, at home, or at any other social place. It is normal to have misunderstandings, but they should be solved in the most appropriate and sober way.
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