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The Incident Stage of Conflict

The Incident Stage of Conflict

Author: Sophia Tutorial

Identify representations of the incident stage of conflict.

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You're upset. Something has happened. There's been an incident, and clearly, you're in the middle of a conflict. I'm Marlene, and in this tutorial today, I'd like to look at, with you, at the incident as an actual stage of conflict.

Now there are many ways to model the stages that conflict goes through, and we're going to be focusing on one way of modeling the stages of conflict. But I think it's important to note that all people who discuss conflict really recognize there are three broad phases and describe them in a similar way.

And these stages are the pre-conflict stage, where you're not quite sure that there's anything wrong. Things might be brewing, but you're not aware of it. Then there's conflict, and within conflict, the very first stage might be that feeling of discomfort you get when you feel like there's something-- something's wrong. You're not quite sure what. It's that vague sense of discomfort.

Then we have the incident, which we'll discuss today. And, of course, the very last big phase is post-conflict, once it's resolved. But let's go back and look at incident, the incident stage of conflict. The incident stage of conflict is that stage of conflict in which parties become aware of each other's roles and needs not being met through a concrete occurrence in their relationship.

For example, you're at work and there's been a lot of new projects going on, and they've recently hired some new people. You've been asked to do a little bit of training or mentoring of one of these people. And you are a little-- you feel a little bit uncomfortable with the way this relationship is going, and there's been a team meeting. And this person that you were training speaks up and voices an idea as his own idea and gets credit for it. Everybody is quite impressed with this idea that he's come up with, and it was your idea. Now you feel really betrayed and like you're not getting the credit you should be getting at work.

Or you recently have had to work a little extra, and because of this, your 9-year-old doesn't have a place to go after school. In order to save on daycare, your husband has suggested, well, you know, my sister can take care of him. So you felt a little uncomfortable, because things are a little loose over at your sister-in-law's but, you know, fine.

You've dropped him off over there after school, and that seems to be working out in terms of saving money. But he just came home and was talking about a video he was looking at, and you would never allow him to look at a video like that. Now you know that this incident has happened, and you're not comfortable with her providing this after-school care for your son.

Now at first, you might minimize. Sometimes there's a tendency to minimize an incident. Oh, he didn't really mean to take credit for the idea. Maybe he didn't realize what he was doing. Or I don't know-- maybe somehow they watched the video, and she didn't intend this. It's not happened before. You might try to minimize.

But still, the incident affects the relationship, and it lingers there. So the conflict could begin here, or it might actually have begun back in the discomfort stage. Conflicts can escalate and de-escalate between stages. It's best, however, to resolve the conflict at the earliest possible stage.

So for example, if it's this stage, the incident stage, you could, perhaps, go to your co-worker or this person you've been training. Maybe you're going to go and say, let's have a cup of coffee. I want to talk with you about something. And share that you were a little uncomfortable how his remark hit you in the meeting and how you took it. Actually, bring it into the open at this stage.

Or you could talk to your sister-in-law. Maybe you need to revisit a conversation about what you expect when your son is over at her home. So this would be the time to try to resolve the conflict, because it's easiest to do at the earliest possible stage. So thank you for being part of this tutorial. I look forward to seeing you next time.

Terms to Know
incident stage

The stage of conflict in which parties become aware of each others' roles in needs not being met through a concrete occurrance in their relationship