Four Stages of Conflict Resolution

This morning I participated in a meditation and Dharma session at a local Buddhist meditation society and listened to a very thoughtful and provoking address on conflict resolution. In the past year I’ve noticed that my approach to conflict (and its eventual resolution) has dramatically changed. Be it a shift in perspective or different resources I have available to me, it has definitely changed for the better and I am beginning to be more mindful of when I am practicing meaningful conflict resolution. I hope that these stages will help you recognize your abilities to reconcile the differences that present themselves in your daily life and that you will be able to apply them as needed.

Stage 1 – Pacification. There is an attempt made at pacifying a conflict, otherwise known as a “heart-to-heart” or some sort of method by which one party attempts to address the situation. Usually done by “talking things out,” this step almost always reinforces a relationship by establishing a connection or bond that revolves around trust. It is in this stage that the relationship between the two individuals grow deeper.

Stage 2 – Mediation. There may be insufficient communication between the two conflicting individuals; therefore, a third-party mediator may be required to help both individuals address said conflict. This can be via counselor, psychologist, friend, clergy, arbitrator, etc, but it is preferred that mediation be conducted by someone who does not have a vested interest in said relationship. An objective point of view is necessary to help evaluate the conflict, but not place value on either individual’s opinion.

Stage 3 – Magnetization. One individual within the conflict changes the situation in such a way that compels the other person to take action. In this stage, ultimatums or interventions may reasonably take place. A drastic action that creates a schism in the relationship will push the resolution in one of two directions. Much in the same way that magnets work, this will either bring the two individuals closer together or tear them apart. In this case, it is safe to say that there is no middle ground.

Stage 4 – Destruction. Either one or both individuals choose to destroy the aspect of the relationship that causes conflict. This does not necessarily mean that the two individuals walk away from each other entirely. This stage of conflict resolution highly depends on both of the individual’s emotional quotient. The most emotionally mature individuals may be able to permanently separate their overall relationship from the root of conflict. In this case, the conflict is resolved but the relationship (either actualized or imagined) remains intact.

How have you been successful at conflict resolution? Do any of these steps apply to you?

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Special thanks to Ken McLeod for the discussion after this morning’s guided meditation at Against The Stream.

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3 thoughts on “Four Stages of Conflict Resolution”

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