Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Continuum of Responses to Conflict

Whenever humans interact for a lengthy time period, conflict will arise. Sande presents a continuum of responses to conflict, which fall into three basic categories.

In the center are the Peacemaking responses: Overlook, discussion, negotiation, counseling, mediation, church discipline. These are obviously the desired responses that we should learn to utilize.

Some people resort to Escape responses: denial, flight, and (the ultimate escape) suicide. The most common Escape response is to deny there is conflict and pretend there is nothing wrong. The second most common Escape response is flight. At first I thought "flight" only applied to people who ran away and abandoned their families. But, there are lesser forms of "flight" which are seen every day in families. Working late. Retreating to your room to read for hours a night. Going out with your friends. Joining numerous groups to have something to do every night and avoid going home. Developing hobbies that keep you occupied, and therefore disengaged from your family.

On the opposite end of the continuum from the Escape responses are the Attack responses: assault, litigation, and (the ultimate attack) murder. Most common are the verbal assaults, then physical assaults.

Escape and Attack responses are almost always dangerous to relationships. Thus, we should choose Peacemaking responses.

This post was inspired by the book "Peacemaking for Families" by Ken Sande.

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