Adventist Leaders Learn to “BreakThrough” Conflict

By Taashi Rowe

Breaking through conflicts was at the heart of a recent training session for Columbia Union leaders. Organized by the Columbia Union Conference and held at the Chesapeake Conference in Columbia, Md., the meeting brought together more than 40 leaders from across the union, including those from Seventh-day Adventist schools, healthcare institutions, local conferences and churches.

The daylong session, called “BreakThrough Conflict,” was led by husband-and-wife team Peter and Susan Glaser, who both hold doctoral degrees in communication. They said the proper handling of conflict can actually improve relationships.

“Rather than avoid conflict, we see it as a key organizational variable,” Susan said.

Peter added, “As leaders we must seek out conflict and move into the middle of it with skill. At the end, we can have a problem solved and relationship strengthened.”

The Glasers walked the leaders through several steps for approaching conflict, and then divided the group into teams of three to practice these newly acquired skills.

Dave Weigley, Columbia Union president, saw the conflict training as a key. “We live in a world where effective communication is necessary in understanding how we each process life,” he said. “Conflict in communication is typically inevitable, and how we handle that conflict can mean building relationships or weakening them.”

William Jackson, vice president for marketing and recruitment at Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Md., found the session quite useful. “It made me aware of how communication can improve and overcome conflict,” he said.