Topic 3: Conflict Stages

The conflict begins to form when the differences between the parties are clearly defined and the representatives of the different parties “take a side”, ie. they are clearly aware of what in their situation, position or relations distinguishes them from the representatives of the “other” side.

If no mechanism is found to resolve the conflict in the first stage, it begins to develop and worsen. The parties in the conflict become hostile to each other. At this stage, they move from “us and them” to “us and the enemy.” At this stage, the conflict can become destructive and even forms of violence can take place. Positions are hardening and demands are growing.

A stagnation stage, the parties behave as if at war. Each side perceives the other as an aggressor who bears all the blame for the conflict. Each party is of the opinion that it is right and that only its claims are justified. At this stage, three different scenarios are possible:

  • a stalemate in which each side is ready for battle;
  • readiness of one side for battle;
  • exhaustion of strength and resources on both sides.

When the conflict reaches a situation where both parties are dissatisfied with the state of affairs, they can enter the process of seeking an agreement. At this stage, the parties come to the conclusion that this is a problematic situation, the solution of which depends on themselves.

Conflict resolution involves making compromises or finding creative solutions, often after heated arguments. Compromises, however, rarely lead to a solution that makes both sides feel good and lays the groundwork for good future cooperation. That is why it is good to develop cooperation and creativity skills in order to be able to find out favourable solutions for both sides. Conflict resolution should focus on the causes of the conflict in order to prevent or reduce the risk of future conflicts. The parties in the conflict must work together to achieve this result.

At the stage of working together, the agreement reached must enter into force. The parties in the conflict must work together to develop new rules for their future relations. They must also accept the past and come to terms with the differences.