Applying the Stages of Constructive Conflict Management

Applying the Stages of Constructive Conflict Management

COM 325 Communication & Conflict


It is inevitable that we will deal or manage our way through conflict every day. Conflict is when two or more people have opposing views on a situation, task or assignment. Perspectives and opinions vary in such a way that may not be conducive to finding a solution unless understood and handled correctly .

Identify and describe the five stages of a constructive conflict process

Conflict management is a communication behavior, a skill that can be developed. You must know the five stages of the conflict process. Prelude, this is what makes the conflict possible. We identify all the variables, who is involved, the relationships, interested parties and bystanders, and the physical and social environment of the situation or conflict. Trigger event, this is what puts the ball in motion, the cause. This is when one party perceives they are in conflict with the other party. Initiation stage, this is when one party initiates the conflict by nonverbal or verbal means they may withdrawal or disengage, or they may choose to talk and express their opinion. Differentiation phase is when the two parties engage in conversation to identify and work through the conflict. Resolution, this is the outcome of the current conflict and becomes part of the prelude to the next .


I was very ambitious and looking to develop and advance within my career. I had a good working relationship with my manager. We had been peers before his promotion, and we were close. We both knew he was in line for another advancement that would take him out of state. He assigned me tasks and was very specific about what I needed to do to be ready to fill his position when he left. For several months I worked hard and believed I was ready. He called me into his office so that we could discuss my progress.


He told me I wasn’t ready. He complimented me on my hard work but quickly moved to the opportunities I had missed. He told me that it was my position to take but I had failed, and he was now going to recommend someone else.


It felt like a shot to the heart, how could my friend betray me? I shut down and disengaged from the conversation, I stopped hearing his explanation and stopped caring. I was mad, I told him I disagreed and that I worked my tail off, and deserved the opportunity.


My boss snapped back, we argued back and forth momentarily, him attacking and me defending. We both realized our conversation wasn’t productive, so we calmed down. We then had an honest conversation about what I had done well, what opportunities I still had. We talked about the areas I had failed in, and we talked about the areas he failed me in.


We apologized to each other, and we both admitted our wrongs and to our missed opportunities. We worked on a plan that would focus on my development and how to create future opportunity. Looking back on this situation, I understand his position.


We went through the five stages of the constructive conflict process, prelude, trigger, initiation, differentiation, and resolution. We didn’t see eye to eye throughout the whole process, but once we realized we were not making progress, we began to utilize open communication. We were considerate and conscious of what we were saying, we worked together, collaborated and we solved the conflict .

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