Tip #12: Address the Perception of Threat

May 31, 2021by Jeremy Pollack

This week’s conflict resolution tip is about the importance of addressing the perception of threat when in conflict.

When we experience conflict within ourselves and with others, sometimes we find that the conflict stems from a place of threat perception. This threat is often directed towards one’s basic psychological needs or goals. For example, an employee may think their manager is micro-managing them because they notice the manager taking control over their responsibilities. If we dig deeper, we may find that the employee feels their sense of autonomy is threatened. Due to this, the employee may think the manager does not think they are competent or does not trust them to do their job.

When conflict like this occurs, it is important to address the perception of threat. For the manager, it is helpful to ask clarifying questions to the employee that dig deeper into what they feel is being threatened. In our example above, the manager would find that their employee feels a lack trust in their relationship. To address this, the manager can simply state, “I do trust you and I think you are able to do your job well.” This mitigates the employee’s perception of threat and reassures them that they are actually seen as trustworthy and competent by the manager. After this, the manager would need to think about how they can change their actions to reduce possibility of threat perception in the future. All of this being said, if you want to build peace in your life, consider how addressing the perception of threat may help reassure people that they are not being threatened. This is a very helpful conflict prevention and conflict management tool for anyone, whether in the workplace, within ourselves, or in any interpersonal conflict we encounter.

Jeremy Pollack

Jeremy Pollack is the Founder and CEO of Pollack Peacebuilding Systems.

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