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The Crisis Stage of Conflict

The Crisis Stage of Conflict

Author: Sophia Tutorial

Identify the characteristics of the crisis stage of conflict.

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Things have come to a head, and you feel like you're in crisis. The conflict has gotten to that point where it's a real crisis. I'm Marlene, and I'd like to talk with you today about the crisis stage of conflict. But before we move into crisis, let's step back and look at the various stages of conflict.

There are many ways you can discuss the stages of conflict, but everyone agrees that there are basically three major stages-- pre-conflict-- that's before the conflict emerges. Perhaps something is brewing, but you weren't aware of it. Then there is this whole conflict stage, followed by post-conflict, and that's the stage after conflict is resolved.

So let's look at the stage of conflict here. You notice it can start with discomfort, that vague feeling that something's wrong, which could lead to an incident, major or minor. Now things are in the open, followed by misunderstanding. And that could lead to tension. The more misunderstandings there are, the more tension there is. And finally, we have crisis. This is the stage of conflict where things have really come to a head.

Now conflicts, these stages of conflicts can change. And things can escalate or de-escalate up and down through these stages, depending on what is done to try to resolve the conflict during any one stage. But let's look at this stage of crisis for a moment, and I'd like to define that. The crisis stage of conflict-- that is the stage of conflict in which parties cannot communicate effectively and act intentionally to harm each other and view each other strongly negatively.

So it's a pretty serious stage of conflict. Now, in general, it's good to resolve a conflict in the earliest stage possible, and this is the most difficult stage within which to resolve a conflict, but it can be done. You certainly can resolve a conflict at this stage. Let's look at an example of a crisis stage of conflict.

In your neighborhood, there's been some changes. There's been a couple of neighbors that have moved in, who have large families. They come over on the weekends. They have teenagers. Teenagers play loud music. It's starting to get on the nerves of other people in the neighborhood. I know that they live right next door to you, and you've had a few conversations with them about this.

The music is loud. They tend to be messy. They don't clean up after these parties. And there's been tension here when you've had these conversations, and things are heating up. In particular, you feel as though the teenagers have been bringing in maybe some kids from outside the neighborhood that it just doesn't feel safe in this neighborhood anymore. And you're not the only one in the neighborhood that's concerned, but you live right next door to these neighbors.

Well, you woke up this morning and discovered that one of those kids had sprayed graffiti on your garage. Well, that's it. That's it. This is a crisis. Now you know something has to change. That was a deliberate act to deface your property. So that's one example of the crisis mode.

Another example could happen within a family. You and your siblings have been discussing what to do with your dad. He's older. He's been living in the family home. You and a couple of your siblings feel that this is not safe, and it's probably time that he move into a care facility. He doesn't want to go, but you're thinking maybe the time has come.

And now you went over to visit him and check on him as you usually do, and you found that he's fallen. He's fallen, and the stove was on. Well, this is a crisis. Something has to change.

So in both these situations, you can step in to try to resolve the conflict at this point. With your neighbors, you've decided-- and you've talked to a couple of other neighbors here, and you decided, you know, let's see if we can set up a community mediation. You're aware there is a mediation program. So you've decided that might be the way to go. Bring in a mediator. See if there's a way you can talk to your neighbor about these issues and restore some harmony among neighbors.

With your father who's fallen, you call your siblings and say, let's-- I'm calling the doctor. Let's all meet with the doctor and talk to him about what might be best for dad. So you're going to bring in a medical resource. And perhaps you'll bring in a clergyman, someone to help you have that conversation at this point and resolve the conflict. So thank you for being part of this tutorial. I look forward to seeing you next time.

Terms to Know
crisis stage

The stage of conflict in which parties cannot communicate effectively and act intentionally to harm each other, and view each other with a strongly negative perspective.