Remember that conflict has a series of stages and that the pre-conflict stage is when an issue may be brewing, but you're not really aware of what it is. Then, of course, there's the actual conflict stage, and the post-conflict stage when things are resolved.
Within the conflict phase, the first stage is often the feeling of discomfort that something is wrong. Following discomfort is the incident stage, where something either minor or major happens to bring the conflict out in the open. Next is the misunderstanding stage, which leads to tension. The more misunderstandings there are, the more tension there is. This tension can ultimately result in crisis.
The crisis stage of conflict is where things have really come to a head because the parties cannot communicate effectively. They may even act intentionally to harm each other, and they hold strong negative views of one another. This is therefore a pretty serious stage of conflict.
Read the scenarios below and imagine yourself in these situations. How would you likely respond or try to resolve the conflict?
There’s been tension when you've had these conversations, and now things are heating up. In particular, you feel as though the teenagers have been bringing in some kids from outside the neighborhood that make the neighborhood feel less safe. You're not the only one in the neighborhood that's concerned, but you live closest to these neighbors. When you woke up this morning, you discovered that someone sprayed graffiti on your garage. Now you know something has to change because this was a deliberate act to deface your property.
- The music is loud.
- The parties tend to be messy.
- They don't clean up after these parties.
Remember that conflicts can escalate and de-escalate between the stages depending on what is done to try to resolve the conflict during any one stage.
In general, it's good to resolve a conflict in the earliest stage possible. Crisis is the most difficult stage in which to resolve a conflict, but it can be done. Keep in mind, however, that it may require outside help to resolve a conflict if it has reached the crisis stage.
EXAMPLEYou and some of your other neighbors decide to try and set up a community mediation. You're aware of a mediation program, and you think that might be the way to go. Bringing in a third party may allow you to talk to the new neighbors about these issues and restore some harmony within the neighborhood.
EXAMPLEAfter your father’s fall, you call your siblings. You might say something like, "I'm going to call the doctor today. Let's all meet with the doctor and talk to him about what might be best." You are going to bring in a medical resource. You could also involve someone that the family trusts as a mediator to help you all have a conversation to resolve the conflict.