A large part of negative escalation is the insistence on advocating for a perspective, not with courage, but with obstinance.
The moment of truth is revealed when, through such negative escalation, we become trapped in a paradigm of our own making, between the relationship we have with reality through our own perspectives, and the relationship with reality that the other party has.
That dynamic tension—between two different views of what is the reality in a conflict scenario and what is not—drives forward negative escalation. Parties in conflict often throw up their hands and proclaim later on “I had no other choice.”
But this is a statement said so often that it is no longer in the provenance of a lie, but it goes into the area approaching truth. Parties in conflict genuinely believe that they have no choice but to escalate a minor communication issue into something larger for three fundamental reasons:
They feel powerless and impotent in the face of the situation, the other party, or the atmosphere of the conflict.
They want an outcome that they either feel they can’t get, or they feel that they are “owed” but are being blocked in pursuing, or they feel as though their options are limited because of inherent issues they bring to the conflict that have nothing to do with the material nature of whatever is going on.
They are full of the desire to be right as well as possessing the will to make the outcome come to pass that they favor.
So, they escalate negatively.
The way out of this is to dive further into the relationship with the other party in conflict. But many times, we don’t want to…
-Peace Be With You All-
Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: firstname.lastname@example.org