Can't we all just get along? Being a peacemaker

Being a peacemaker means actively making an effort to meet the needs of others, including making sure their voices are heard and opinions are respected.

Can't we all just get along? Being a peacemaker

Being a peacemaker means actively making an effort to meet the needs of others, including making sure their voices are heard and opinions are respected.
  • Being a peacemaker often seems most difficult when we feel threatened. We feel our own needs are being ignored. Keeping a healthy perspective on who we are, regardless of what others say or do, reduces defensiveness. Maintaining healthy boundaries reduces the need for any resentment. Working hard for positive interactions by focusing on the needs of others often eliminates conflict while developing a positive sense of self.

  • Stop fighting

  • Sometimes we disturb the peace by trying to defend ourselves or prove a point. It helps to remember that someone else's perception has no real power over who you are, so there is no actual threat. When others hold strong opinions, you still can hold your own.

  • One woman felt attacked at work by an inappropriate comment made by a colleague. She knew that comment was being spread around the office. She wanted to prove her colleague wrong, but knew that would just feed the drama. Instead, she chose to sincerely appreciate a positive comment made during a meeting that really did contribute to the team.

  • Empathize

  • Conflict often comes from deep-rooted sensitivities, or other strong emotions. Finding ways to intuitively smooth over differences and help others more effectively express themselves and meet their own needs resolves common sources of conflict.

  • A man struggled with a coworker who was very negative and short-tempered. Realizing the coworker was most often upset following leadership meetings, he approached the topic of improving the meeting dynamic. Discovering that the coworker felt ignored with ideas always shot down, the team instituted a new plan of allotted time for each person to ensure everyone could contribute.

  • Engage in dialogue

  • Seek common ground rather than noticing differences. See things from another perspective so that you can understand that person within his own context. Find ways to participate in shared activities.

  • In the film Deaf Jam, an Israeli-born Deaf poet joins creative forces with a hearing Palestinian poet for a duet performance of slam poetry. They found a shared venue through which to unite as poets while expressing distinct and differing experiences. This was a powerful experience for them and for those in the audience who learned about all four cultures.

  • Focus on others

  • Instead of attacking others or defending yourself, listen carefully to others so that they do not feel defensive or have any need to attack. Notice what needs you can meet for her, so she feels more at peace. Participating in activities with her or helping her in some way will neutralize the need for conflict.

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  • A boy dreaded going to practice because a teammate was mean to him about his bike. When he found out it was because that boy's bike had a broken chain he and his dad were able to help fix the other bike. This turned resentment into friendship. In the end, they began riding their bikes to practice together.

  • Trust

  • Peace comes from feelings of safety and well-being. If you are confident in whom God is and who you are, you can maintain this feeling by having good boundaries with those around you even when dealing with difficult people.

  • A girl dealt with a bully every day in her math class. Realizing that this bully was also a child of God, the girl changed her interactions. Anytime there was bullying she reported it to the teacher as instructed. Otherwise, she ignored the bad behavior. Anytime the bully did something positive she made sure to smile. This helped her separate the bully's behavior from whom the person was, and ensured that the only interactions they had were positive. This helped her get through math class without being afraid, and empowered her in healthy ways.

  • Being a peacemaker means actively making an effort to meet the needs of others

  • , including making sure their voices are heard, and their opinions respected. Making peace means seeing the other person where she is in her own context and being aware of her potential, even when her experiences are very different from yours. Making peace means letting go of defensiveness and resentment, instead finding a way to contribute to the life of another.

Emily Christensen lives with her husband in Oklahoma. Her Ph.D. is in marriage and family therapy and she is pursuing a second degree in Hebrew and Jewish studies.


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