People in the throes of conflict often feel at sea, not knowing what to do. To whom should they turn? Lawyer, social worker, minister, mediator or friend? Sometimes it’s just not clear from whom parties should seek help. Self directed conflict triage is often a difficult process.
Triage, or the process of sorting, often requires expertise and knowledge. Expertise both in unpacking the dynamics of a conflict and expertise in who can help both play a necessary role. Take, for example, this story of an interpersonal conflict at work.
Betty sits isolated from coworkers. It seems to her that nobody in the office wants to work with her. Sure, her coworkers will work with her when they have to, but given the choice her coworkers actively ignore her. It all seemed to start after last year’s Holiday Party. Betty can’t figure out what happened, only that it was after the Holiday Party that things started to go dreadfully wrong. Today, she sits with her sandwich, alone at lunch, wondering how things became so dysfunctional. When she started at this job, only a couple of years ago, she seemed to fit in so well. That seems like a very long time ago now.
Working with Betty requires unpacking that story. Digging more deeply into the details of what happened, what relationships were like in the past and how they are now. A triage of her problem may well reveal the dynamics of a shared problem, such as mis-communication. Or, it may show other potential problems. Is this the case of workplace harassment, for example? Is mediation a good solution? Or, are other solutions better? The process of conflict triage is helped by problem solving for 1 (PS1). A PS1 facilitator can work with Betty, in this instance, to pick apart the dynamics of the conflict to better determine some good next steps for her. Helping Betty better triage can help to improve the outcomes, and help to reduce the negative consequences of conflict.