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We should consider Floger, Poole, and Stutman’s view on the numerous signs that parties are stuck in destructive cycles of escalation or avoidance behavior associated with the conflict the parties find themselves trying to work through. This guided interaction presents a facilitated interview that measures the application of theoretical constructs with applied logic.

In this vein, we must consider the tabular information contained within our text when identifying the numerous signs destructive to conflict resolution that either serve to increase conflict or avoid conflict. When considering the table, we recognize that a symptom doesn’t automatically signal the conflict is unresolvable; productive conflict can pass through periods of escalation, avoidance, constructive work, and relaxation (Folger et al, 2021).

When destructive cycles are recognized, certain interventions can be deployed to return the conflict to a healthy state. This can be coordinated by third parties to the conflict our prompt indicates we will explore in future tasks. Still, one known to the author is mediation or alternative dispute resolution. In these environments, a mediator, arbitrator, or other intervenor could be deployed to reroute conflict, stuck in avoidance or escalation loops, back to productive states.

In your experiences with other people, what signs have you relied on in determining when a conflict appears to be heading toward either escalation or avoidance?


Seeking Integration: Conflict Avoidance Interactions

Table 1.1 of our companion text to this course provides a layout of certain symptoms of avoidance and symptoms of escalation, each serving to derail conflict resolution strategies between the parties. Considering this list, we synthesize our experience in identifying the direction of escalation or avoidance in conflicts and what signs we have relied on to assess whether the conflict is still manageable (inside the integration phase) or has moved outside integration, reverting to the unresolvable stage.

In reflection, I consider the state of conflict between husband and wife, potentially on a regular basis, as I find myself in. I am the father of five boys and a mediator in Alaska. I have personally mediated over 100 cases, yet I find myself mediating conflict in my home with my boys daily. With over 15 years in the ADR and mediation, I still see myself avoiding this conflict.

The loop goes like this: Their mother, whom I have married twice, seldom goes into their rooms to inspect their living space. This is a product of her past, upbringing, and the autonomy she experienced in her youth. She had a parent who enforced rigorous cleanliness rules for her and her siblings when she was young. She grew to dislike the order while enjoying the cleanliness at the same time. I sense the issue was related to oversight or her stepmother telling her what to do. She questioned her stepmother’s authority, which resulted in an interaction loop, as described by our text.

Our text discusses this phenomenon well when considering how power is acquired and distributed through moves and countermoves in conflict interactions (Floger et al., 2012).

I should rightly be a cornerstone of this conflict, yet I have entered the bang-head-here arena more than once, so I have thrown in the towel by showing avoidance symptoms. My commitment to solving the problem is simple: Why should I care if they don’t? If I don’t have to see the mess, it isn’t my problem.

This interaction is a symptom of avoidance that deters the conflict transformation by prolonging the issue and avoiding the conflict altogether. When examining the table, I reflect on how my wife escalated the conflict. She frequently offers to escalate the dispute by using her power to support her position and presenting the same solution to the problem in support of her position: I’ll ask them to do it again, or I’ll take their cell phones.

Finally, in this conflict loop, I remove myself from the conflict, ignoring my duty to raise responsible, clean boys by quickly accepting any solution to avoid the issue altogether. I’m tired of dealing with it; I’ll eliminate the conflict by removing myself.

The result is more avoidance, according to the table in Figure 1.1: unresolved issues keep emerging in the same form (avoidance), and tension rises (escalation).

In my experience with this situation, I frequently rely on the sign that I am avoiding the conflict by either shifting responsibility for it to my wife or quickly accepting any proposed solution that resolves the conflict for the moment. It is clear to identify when this conflict can be managed and when it can’t. Vocal tones and inflection are considered; I observe the facial expression on my middle child’s face to understand that he has tuned out the conflict entirely to avoid it; I perpetuate avoidance by not raising the controversial issue itself (head in the sand phenomena), I hear name-calling by my boys blaming each other for why they’re being confronted with their behavior (escalation) which sometimes results in my wife saying that either one of the two subjects, are being assholes or the like.

Through these methods, I quickly assess and identify that the conflict is perpetuating and unresolvable, but does this mean, as a father, I should quit trying? This is the avoidance pose I have taken on the issue; accordingly, our text indicates that I am serving to avoid the underlying conflict, making it unresolvable.

In arriving at such recognition, what do you attempt when seeking to to move the conflict toward a point of resolution (in other words, to enter the integration stage)?


When this situation arises and conflict resolution is stalled, sometimes I find myself trying to work the conflict back to the point of resolution to reenter the integration phase. In this attempt, I usually explain to the kids and their mother why cleanliness is vital and why it is wrong to force one brother (younger) to serve the other (older) when it victimizes him and perpetuates the conflict between siblings and adults.

Occasionally, this reintegration is successful; frequently, it is not. Accordingly, my head in the sand to the issue is to avoid the conflict altogether, perpetuating it.

Establish an interaction parameter within the mediation landscape of your client’s


Conflict Loops: Resolvable to Unresolvable Interactive States

The loop between resolvable and unresolvable conflict rests on the party’s ability to keep interactions from approaching either avoidance or escalating states. With the conflict outlined, it is difficult to keep the parties on track, accordingly, resolution frequently fails, and power is exerted over the parties by a third party (me) I moved myself into that position by avoiding the conflict altogether and abstracting myself from the conflict.

This doesn’t work. Now, I have a basis for why. To resolve this problem, I must remove power from the issue and lateralize it before it becomes either plagued with avoidance or escalating behaviors and actions. Our previous discussion focused on why conflict becomes unmanageable or unresolvable. This study reveals why. In the case study discussed, conflict resolution breaks because the parties abstract themselves from it by using avoidance and escalation actions, accordingly, the conflict as unresolved.

Works Cited

Folger, J P, M S Poole and R K Stutman. Working Through Conflict (9th ed.). Taylor & Francis, 2021.

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