Education Week: Emily Taylor speaks on conflict

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Emily Taylor speaks at BYU Education Week. (BYU Continuing Education)

Emily Taylor, assistant director of BYU’s Center for Peace and Conflict Resolution at BYU Law School, shared insights on how to recognize and resolve conflict in her virtual Education Week address.

“Each of us is on a different trajectory, but there are universal human needs, and there are very tangible and practical things that we can do that will allow us to find peace in this life,” Taylor said.

She compared conflict to two people bumping into each other in the middle of a busy road. She taught that conflict is natural. “Because we are unique and mortal, meaning we are fallible, we make mistakes. We don’t have perfect information. We experience bumps with each other,” Taylor said.

Taylor said conflict is usually caused by unmet needs. She shared a story of her husband not attending their child’s preschool graduation, because to him it seemed to be an insignificant event. This caused conflict within their marriage. After some time thinking, Taylor realized that her frustration came from an unfulfilled need of being together, not so much stemming from the event itself.

“I’m hammering in the idea that needs drive most of conflict and conflict resolution. If we can do the work to identify our needs and then also do the work to identify what other people’s needs are, we are going to be so much closer to coming up with solutions,” Taylor said.

To find solutions to conflict, Taylor gave examples from the ministry of Jesus Christ, who showed mercy to all while avoiding contention. “We will not always be reconciled to those we have grievances with, but we will seek so to do, to be like the Savior,” Taylor said.

The feeling of peace is something sought after during conflict. “Most of us want peace. it’s a universal desire,” Taylor said. She shared suggestions for avoiding conflict from President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: show concern for others, control words spoken, bridle the passion to speak contentiously and humbly love God.

It is important to accept that conflict cannot be completely avoided. “Rather, what we need to be careful of is contention, and that is a choice,” Taylor said.

“The Savior said, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall see God.’ And they shall see God and everyone around them because they will understand that each of us have divine needs that are given to us from long ago,” Taylor said. “As we learn to get along with each other, we are able to build what our Heavenly Father desired for us: that His children would get along.”

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