The Best Time To Resolve Conflict

A conflict’s greatest opportunity for collaborative resolution is usually near the time it first occurred (if such a time can be known) or at least nearer the time it first entered your awareness.

Sometimes, the triggering event is clear and memorable. Sometimes it’s elusive, building under the radar over time, brick by brick, small frustration by small frustration.

Either way, the sooner you address it after the raw initial pain and anger have passed, the better. You want the rawness to have subsided enough that people can bring their better selves to the conversation, but not so much time to have passed that the ongoing tension creates an escalating conflict spiral.

The center of a conflict spiral is known as “schismogenesis,” a fancy word for “beginning of the rift.” The spiral grows outward the longer the conflict goes untended, widening the divide, increasing the emotional distance, and sometimes also increasing the number of people involved.

Conflict resolution specialists like me often get the call many months or even years after the schismogenesis. It’s reasonable and understandable that the individuals involved and management want a reasonable chance first to engage, untangle and resolve the conflict before seeking outside help.

The trick is to recognize a spiral early and develop hallmarks in your organizational conflict management system that will help you know when to keep working at it in-house and when it’s more resource-efficient and effective to seek outside help.

I’ve helped conflicts years in the making get untangled and those involved begin to rebuild the trust relationships they once had. But it’s harder by orders of magnitude when you wait a long time before getting the right help.

Hope just isn’t a good conflict resolution strategy.

                        author

Tammy Lenski

Dr. Tammy Lenski helps individuals, pairs, teams, and audiences navigate disagreement better, address friction, and build alignment. Her current work centers on creating the conditions for robust collaboration and sound decisions while fostering resilient personal and professional relationships. Her conflict resolution podcast and blog, Disagree Better, are available at https://tammylenski.com/archives/… MORE >

Featured Mediators

ad
View all

Read these next

Category

Peace and Joy!

From the Real Divorce Mediation Blog of Nancy Hudgins and Debra Synovec Holidays can be a sad and stressful time for people in the midst of divorce………. but you do...

By Debra Synovec, Nancy Hudgins
Category

Just Launched A Dispute Resolution Blog? Here Are 6 Things Effective Bloggers Do

As a blogger who’s been at this now for over four years, I have been fortunate enough to know first-hand the impact of blogging on the way ADR professionals practice. ...

By Diane J. Levin
Category

Watch Out for the Non-Verbal Cues!

PGP Mediation Blog by Phyllis G. PollackOne of the latest blog posts from the Harvard  Negotiation Project notes the importance of understanding body language in negotiations. Written by the PON...

By Phyllis Pollack

Find a Mediator

X
X
X