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May 3, 2021
An Escalation

A look into how conflict escalates:

  1. Observation
  2. Assumption
  3. Conclusion

First, we make an observation of behavior or outcomes. Then we make an assumption on why things turned out that way, or why people act the way that they do. Finally, we make a conclusion – this is the type of person they are, and nothing will ever change.

We primarily stick with our conclusions, because we like to be consistent.

So in a way, it’s an escalation of conflict, but it’s also an escalation of commitment.

The good thing is it works in reverse as well. We can de-escalate. We can reexamine.

If we start with our conclusions and work back to some assumptions we’ve made, we can get to the source of what we believe: our observations.

Do they line up with our values and worldview? Is there a different way we can interpret them? Is it possible we had our observation incorrect, which led to a wrong assumption, and a faulty conclusion?

It’s important because it’s how we relate to others.




*adapted from The science of productive conflict from Worklife with Adam Grant.