The Emotional Stages of a Conflict

I think we’ve all heard about the various stages of grief, beginning with denial, and moving through anger, ultimately arriving at acceptance.

Some experts theorize that there are similar stages in some conflicts. For example, one party may deny that a marriage is over when divorce negotiations begin. You can’t even have a discussion about custody, visitation and who gets the house when one party to the marriage doesn’t accept that the marriage is over.

Similarly, in conflicts involving other adult family members, one party may deny that there is a problem, or even that they themselves are part of the problem, seeing the other party as wholly at fault. Even after denial lifts, parties may be invested in holding other people entirely responsible for the conflict, laying blame at their feet and refusing to move beyond two-dimensional “black and white” thinking.

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Emotions and Conflict

Emotions play a huge part in conflicts. That should seem obvious but when we’re in the midst of a conflict it may be hard to see and harder to understand the impact of our emotions. The emotions we ex