When two people come at an idea with differing perspectives it can cause conflict. Obviously, marriages have conflict, co-workers have conflict, siblings face conflict, even friends endure it sometimes. The key to working through these, of course, is communication. It is a complicated topic: we communicate with our words but also our tones of voice, facial expressions and eye rolls, types of laughter, shoulder hunches, arms crossing, busy hands, etc.
In the South, it is common to greet just about everyone you come in contact with, strangers, friends and enemies alike. If not with words, most people will communicate with a tip of their head, or a small smile. It still surprises my kids when someone doesn't say, "Good morning" right back to us, as it is the norm here in NC.
When Phillip sits in the bus driver's seat he can use his role to greet every person with a polite hello and give a kind goodbye when they exit. I think this is one of his favorite parts of the job. There have been a few days when people who are consistent riders do a double take to see if they are getting on the right bus since friendly Phillip is not their normal bus driver. Cordial, face-to-face greetings seem to be sadly less common in these fast-paced, smart-phone driven days.
Conflict can sometimes arise if a rider feels lost and frustrated, needing quick answers, and as a new driver, Phillip has been humbled at not being able to answer the questions about scheduling very effectively or as efficiently as he would like. This provides a chance to communicate quickly, "I am sorry. I don't know."
"I am sorry," are such simple, powerful words. We don't have to have it all together all the time, but to be gracious in an instant where we would like to be given grace goes a long way.
I wish this was my default way. In conflict, when I do take time to pause and gentle my voice in order to address an issue with a family member, or a student, it makes the conversation so much sweeter, and so much more effective. It takes a lifetime to learn how to regularly, "speak the truth, in love" (Ephesians 4:15). Honesty, kindness, and graciousness in communication are the quickest way to change conflict to calm.
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