When Crisis Management Becomes Conflict Management - Deepstash
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Crisis Turns Into Conflict: Key Takeaways

Crisis Turns Into Conflict: Key Takeaways

The psychological toll of the pandemic has challenged workers and managers in a variety of ways.

As we head into the third year of the pandemic, a new issue has sprung up: “splitting,” a mental defence mechanism that allows us to tolerate difficult and even unbearable emotions by seeing someone or something as either heroes or villains, good or bad, “with us” or “against us.” This can result in tension and conflict.

Leaders need to focus on three areas: identifying splitting triggers in themselves, spotting splitting behaviour on their teams, and focusing on reuniting and reintegrating relationships.


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The Split

The Split

Splitting is a mental defence mechanism that allows us to tolerate difficult and even unbearable emotions by resorting to black-or-white thinking. We identify others as either heroes or villains, good or bad, “with us” or “against us.” This frees us from the burden of having to face our own shortcomings and missteps while allowing us to cast our opponents as purely and fully bad, instead of looking for nuance and common ground. 


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Understanding the Big Split

Understanding the Big Split

The Big Split is a multi-layered mental conflict. Behind it lies a complex psychological cocktail: delayed gratification, feelings of injustice, and a race to fill the emotional vacuum created by years of living with restrictions.

For leaders, the point is to recognize that this phase is not a collective sigh of relief and a joyous reunion, but rather one filled with conflict and confrontation


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When The Pandemic Hit

When The Pandemic Hit

  • In March 2020, when the pandemic emergency became clear, many of us felt an energy rush.
  • Leaders became the best version of themselves.
  • Then, a regression phase hit: people got tired, lost their sense of purpose, started fighting about the small stuff, and started to neglect their relationships.
  • Next came the recovery phase, where we started to move out of the lull.
  • This phase was filled with lots of new ideas, and we saw friends, family, and colleagues embracing the new future.
  • However, the slow recovery tested our resilience.


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Understand and Monitor Your Own Triggers

Understand and Monitor Your Own Triggers

Realizing when you are falling prey to splitting, whether a little or a lot and taking note of what triggers you to react in out-of-character ways is a good first step.

A few instances of "bad behaviour" is not the same as deeming someone a "bad agent." The key is to reject absolutes and categorical thinking.


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Spot Splitting Behavior in Your Teams and Intervene

Spot Splitting Behavior in Your Teams and Intervene

Call out splitting behaviour as soon as you notice it playing out.

In order to resolve differences of opinion, instead of letting them fester, leaders can scale up the frequency of team meetings but shorten their duration drastically.


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Aim to Reunite and Reintegrate Your Relationships

Aim to Reunite and Reintegrate Your Relationships

  • Leaders must emphasize that it isn’t shameful to experience splitting and that it’s okay to direct time and resources to resolve the fundamental conflicts.
  • To offer perspective, leaders should fully understand colleagues, employees, and peers by letting them talk about the turmoil they’re going through, and then search for long-term and constructive ways to move forward
  • Building mutual support, remember that a strong emotional connection between teammates, teams, and stakeholders last a long time.


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Learning every day how to efficiently work remotely. Ups and downs.


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