6 Internal Prompts for Avoiding Potential Conflict

Published January 26, 2021

“I’d agree with you, but then we’d both be wrong.”—Russell Lynes

Did you know every person has a built-in, early-warning system that uses at least six specific internal prompts to detect potential conflicts?

Giselle Jenkins, Culture Consulting Director for BCWI, has leveraged 20 years of HR expertise with Christian organizations to identify six, valuable internal prompts to help you anticipate and even avoid needless, damaging workplace conflicts.

A few, simple questions let you personalize each internal prompt:

1. The Competence Prompt

You’ve worked for years to increase your knowledge and build your people skills. But then along comes someone who doesn’t respect your intelligence. If this prompts anger inside you, ask yourself:

  • What is in my past that could be tied to this prompt? Is there unresolved hurt or a lack of forgiveness?
  • Am I a continuous learner? How aware am I of what I don’t know?
  • Am I confident and comfortable working around people with better skills and more knowledge?


2. The Inclusion Prompt

Almost everyone desires to be wanted and seen as a valuable member of a family, a team, a partnership or a friendship. Being left out makes us feel less than, minimized and unappreciated. If this prompt describes you, ask yourself:

  • What in my past points me to this prompt?
  • Why might I not be included in something? Could there be a rational decision to not make me part of it, versus a negative reason?
  • Do I include all kinds of people in my decisions and my work? Do I model what I want?


3. The Autonomy Prompt

Life can often feel more comfortable when we can control things ourselves. Independence and autonomy allow us to choose to act according to our own style, preferences, timing and priorities. Creativity thrives under a less controlled environment; most people hate to be micro-managed. If you’re already nodding “yes,” then consider:

  • What in my past might be tied to this prompt? Was there a time when someone tried to control me?
  • What might be holding me back from feeling comfortable adjusting to a more reliant vs. independent approach?
  • Lack of trust is sometimes a reason people prefer autonomy. How can I grow my trust in others?


4. The Status Prompt

In the dictionary, status is defined as “position or rank in relation to others, e.g., the status of a father” or “relative rank in a hierarchy of prestige, especially high prestige.” Status also equates with responsibility: full-time status means we work 40+ hours per week. Status as a supervisor makes us responsible for the well-being of others. Fidelity to an institution gives us status, like points and special consideration. If you resonate with this, ask yourself:

  • Why is it important to me to have my status recognized and respected? Is it for a “noble” reason?
  • Reflecting deeply, what about me do I want people to see about who I truly am?
  • How do I treat people who have “no status?”
  • How could learning more about servant-leadership make me appreciate this prompt?


5. The Trustworthiness Prompt

Trustworthy people are honest, ethical, compassionate, empathetic, great listeners, have integrity and are reliable! The Bible tells us that being trustworthy grows our influence and gives us more opportunities. Who doesn’t want to be trustworthy? Ask yourself:

  • What life events in the past could be causing me to react strongly when I don’t feel trusted?
  • Are there people or situations I work with now that cause me frustration because of their lack of reliability and trustworthiness? Do I feel accused of the same thing?
  • Is there an area where I struggle to keep up and I might be rationalizing rather than accepting that I’m not able to live up to a standard? How might I address this?
  • Rather than react defensively when my trustworthiness is questioned, how might I ask good questions about how I can demonstrate I can be trusted?


6. The Integrity Prompt

Everyone has a moral compass base on their values and beliefs. Christians have their “guidance” clearly defined in Scripture. People with integrity behave according to their beliefs in action, word and deed. They “walk the talk.” Ask yourself:

  • How strong do I feel this prompt?
  • Do I react more to people who question the merits of my values, or those who question my adherence to my values? Why might that be?
  • What does Scripture say about our hearts and ability to see when we are off track?
  • Do I have two or more people in my life who can be proactive accountability partners to help me stay on a path that consistently aligns my actions with my beliefs?

In his letter to the Romans, Paul may have saved some of his best for last when he wrote, “So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding (Romans 14:19). Might these words translate into generous listening, clearer understanding, and deeper trust among your employees? The vote is unanimous: Yes! Unnecessary conflict need not apply.

About the Author
This is the author headshot of Al Lopus.

Al Lopus


Best Christian Workplaces Institute

Al Lopus' passion and Best Christian Workplaces Institute's (BCWI) vision is that the Church and Christian-led organizations set the standard as the best, most effective places to work in the world. BCWI is widely known for its faith-based staff engagement survey and organizational culture transformation initiatives. They serve to equip and inspire Christian leaders to create a flourishing workplace.

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