Conflict Triangles

23 Jun

The Conflict TriangleiStock_000012812885blog

We’ve all done. Instead of talking to the person with whom we are in conflict, we reach out to someone else – a third person.  Hence the name … conflict triangle.

It seems like it’s a good thing to do. It’s comfortable. But is it really a good move?

The third person can try to be supportive and listen sympathetically, but he or she doesn’t have full knowledge about the situation.  It probably feels safer to talk to the third person but is it just an easy substitute for working on the issue directly?

The existence of this triangle can actually lessen the likelihood that the conflict between the two people will get worked out.

If all the person does is to listen and help to sort out the issues and feelings, then it might not be so bad. But it’s important to realize that the third person can’t fix the problem just by listening.

And what if you are approached to be included in a conflict as the third person? What should you do?

  • Don’t be the savior for someone else’s conflict.
  • Avoid being a sympathetic listener to criticism.
  • Encourage the people in dispute to work it out between themselves.
  • Realize that exiting the triangle as soon as possible is a good strategy.




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