Working Through Stages of Conflict

Identify the Five Stages of Conflict

As mentioned before, the conflict stages to be used in this project include:

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At the Underlying Conflict stage, there is potential for conflict, but it has yet to fully develop. Underlying conflict can exist for a long period of time before any conflict arises. Certain conditions and factors can contribute to underlying conflict. Some of these conditions include: different communication styles, differing interests, role/structure conflict, or diverse goals. Oftentimes, one side or both sides of the underlying conflict do not realize there is an issue until a “triggering event” occurs which can lead to an actual conflict. If underlying conflicts are discussed and communicated when first identified, they can often be resolved before the conflict escalates.

The Conflict Development stage is when the underlying conflict emerges as an actualized conflict. This stage is usually triggered by an event or emotion that causes a conflict to arise, from which conflict can continue to escalate and develop over time. In this stage, conflict can become polarizing and other people are often drawn into the conflict and start taking sides. According to conflict theorists Dean Pruitt and Jeffrey Rubin, a major shift that occurs when conflict escalates is that the tactics used by the two sides move from light to heavy tactics. Light tactics are persuasive and try to find ways to please the other party. On the other hand, heavy tactics are forceful and divisive, and can result in power struggles which make the conflict both more heated and more difficult to resolve.

Conflict Stalemate occurs when the conflict has escalated to a point where no one can win, but neither side wants to back down. At stalemate, neither side wants to move from their position and a resolution can seem impossible. Moving on from this point is difficult for a lot of people. They don’t want it to seem as if they are giving in or losing face. Also, if the conflict escalation affected the relationship of the two parties, it can be difficult to reconcile.

Conflict Resolution is where the conflict eventually moves out of the stalemate stage and both sides are able to come to an agreement to resolve or settle the conflict. It may be either side that sees the need to compromise and both sides start to negotiate or resolve the conflict. This can be achieved through various methods and tools. It is important to note that the conflict can be settled without it being resolved. Resolving conflict takes into account the root of the conflict and the underlying causes while resolving to avoid this conflict in the future.

In the Reconciliation stage, both sides work to repair the relationship between the two parties and reconcile their differences. At this stage, the settlement or resolution is implemented and both sides try to work together to move on from the conflict. If relationships have been impacted because of the conflict, it can be a long road to reconciliation.