Stages of Conflict and How Conflict Can Make Us Feel

Certificate II in Hospitality – dealing with conflict at work or at schoolStudying a school-based traineeship in hospitality will teach you how to deal with conflict situations.

Conflict generally moves through five (5) identifiable stages, depending upon which point the conflict is – either resolved or avoided. As conflict escalates, it can produce a range of feelings from mild annoyance to considerable stress and turmoil. As issues move through each of the five (5) stages, they become more difficult to resolve, and the likelihood of experiencing difficulties in the workplace and personally becomes unavoidable.

Stage 1


Stage 2


Stage 3


Stage 4


Stage 5


Stage 1: Unease

Conflict usually begins with that uneasy feeling that makes us uncomfortable. Often you feel uneasy after something someone said or how they said it. Other times it is something that happened, and we feel vulnerable and awkward. It isn’t necessarily a serious incident, but something that niggles at us. For example, someone may have invaded our personal space, made a joke about our culture or the way we speak/look/work, or spoken to us in a tone that we felt was inappropriate. Depending on how we deal with our feelings determines whether this turns into an “episode.”

Stage 2: Episode

An episode is more intense and is likely to result from an unsatisfactory exchange between the conflicting parties. It can leave us feeling upset, even angry. For example, we may have tried to explain our discomfort yet the person repeats the joke or comment, but this time in front of our colleagues or a customer. Or it may be an entirely different incident but between the same people, however the unresolved conflict noted in step 1 has intensified the emotions. Again, dealing with the conflict now can prevent it from increasing into a complete misunderstanding.

Stage 3: Misunderstandings

Once conflict has arisen, both parties may find it difficult to maintain objectivity, and begin to attribute blame and ill-feeling toward the other person. These thoughts may be accurate; however, they may also be false, after all there are two sides to every story. We are likely to expend considerable energy thinking, worrying and fretting about the incident. If the conflict is not dealt with soon, one or both parties may begin to experience considerable stress.

Stage 4: Stress

Unresolved conflict can cause great anxiety. This anxiety can lead to negative feelings, and even to hostility towards another person who may or may not be aware of the problem. They may also be anxious about the situation, and it may also begin to affect the workplace and our life at home.

Stage 5: Crisis

When conflict increases to this level, the situation becomes untenable; we are unable to function effectively, either with the other person or within our work environment. The conflict can seem almost impossible to resolve, thus creating even further personal and professional stress. It is likely that further episodes will result, and then we will find ourselves in a cycle that is increasingly difficult to break.

Learning to manage conflict in the early stages will contribute positively to our working relationships with those people with whom we come in to conflict. It will also reduce stress levels and help to develop our interpersonal skills. However we handle conflict, we shouldn’t ignore it and hope it goes away! While we may feel uncomfortable, our customer or colleague may feel even worse! It is important not to take conflict as personal affront, but rather to look on it as an opportunity to improve communication between people.

Undertaking a school-based traineeship in hospitality will help you deal with conflict, both at work and at school.