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Positive, proactive stimulation of conflict means you get to pull things out from under the rug, switching on the creative juices towards a solution.

By contrast, dormant conflict can fester, growing bigger and more explosive on a one-way ticket to conflict crisis, all the while remaining hidden, until it’s too late to extract much value.

The fact is: conflict is never stagnant.

Even when latent, it flows back and forth through diversions, meetings, holidays, priorities, reshuffling, self-development, resignations – under the influence of friends, family, colleagues and all kinds of external forces. It is worth consciously tracking the contributing factors to conflict escalation. The way that conflict escalates determines how it should be managed.

Conflict will escalate negatively under certain conditions, with potentially destructive outcomes.

A number of elements play a role in negative escalation. For example:

  • Entrapment
    You’re in a situation where the only recourse is to exert your power or rights.
  • Multiple Issues
    The conflict is complicated by more than one problem. A third party or mediator may be necessary to see the wood from the trees when conflict is disturbed by this kind of complexity. The increasing force of the conflict leads to escalation.
  • Past Grievances
    Past grievances feed into and make current conflicts worse.
  • Selective Perception
    Allowing rigid views to affect what is or isn’t acceptable.
  • Negative Attribution
    You’re completely “convinced” and unwilling to move because the other party is ‘wrong’, no matter what.
  • Partialisation
    Ignoring the big picture. This is likely to lead to the complications typical of multiple issues because problems are not being resolved holistically.
  • Stereotyping
    Similar to partialisation; this time putting people in to boxes. This is difficult to overcome because you are not open to exploring the needs of the other, limited by your opinion of what you think they are.
  • Victimhood
    Wallowing in self-pity and hurt, not interested in resolving anything because there is ‘nothing to talk about’ as the lone victim and target of the conflict.

Understanding the source of the escalation of conflict is a starting point to explore the de-escalation of that conflict.

Boxes are for objects, not humans.

~ Abhijit Naskar

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