9 steps of conflict escalation (part 1)

The 9 escalation levels

Phase I
The conflicting parties are aware of the tensions and contradictions and make efforts to solve them rationally. Failed attempts at solutions contribute to a deepening of the tensions. Despite this, each side makes efforts to work with the opposing party to overcome the conflicts. Cooperation and competition are present in equal measure.
Level 1: Tension and solidification
The standpoints solidify during the discussion. The conflicting parties often close the doors to the outside and their standpoints become firmer.
Level 2: Polarisation
Before the conflicts began, the differing standpoints created creativity and motivation. Now they are becoming extremely fixed and polarised.
Level 3: Confrontation with actions
The parties can no longer reach or convince each other with words. Therefore they just do what they themselves think is best and present the opposite side with completed situations. In this phase, “self-fulfilling prophecy” mechanisms start to take effect.
Phase II
Level 4: Image and formation of coalitions
Each party develops a particularly positive image of their own side and a negative image of the other side.
Level 5: Open attack and loss of face
The parties question the moral integrity of the opponent. They “unmask” each other, since each party is now only able to recognise negative aspects of their opponent’s personality. The opposite party in each case becomes socially isolated to a large extent.

 Level 6: Threat strategies
The parties want to force each other to give way and make demands. If these are not met, an oppressive action or sanction is announced which will cause significant damage.
Phase III
As the escalation has developed, radicalisation has taken place. It’s now all about the loser’s pattern of action (loser versus loser), There is nothing left to win.
Level 7: Limited destructive strikes
Threats turn into actions, in order to prevent the opponent from carrying out his threat. Initially, only the means with which the threat could be carried out is destroyed
Level 8: Destruction of the opponent: fragmentation
The conflicting parties each destroy the opponent’s potential – irreplaceable parts are removed from machinery, for example. The opposing party is damaged to such an extent that regeneration seems almost impossible.
Level 9: Destruction and self-destruction

The opponents see no way back. The whole confrontation is aimed at final destruction. Both parties are completely prepared for this, even if it also means self-destruction. As they go down, they still enjoy the triumph of seeing their opponent go down with them.


Part 2

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