Plate tectonics describes the scientific theory of how the earth is continuously reshaped by the ongoing movement of small and large plates constituting the earth’s surface. It’s nothing we can easily observe with the mere eye as the movement happens very slowly.
What we can observe are the results of these movements which lead to earthquakes, volcano eruptions, and the formation of mountains. In all of these cases, something is emerging that has not been there before. All of these effects are expected, but as it never is known when they will happen, everyone hopes that they’ll happen later or be easy to handle.
It’s the same with conflict. People communicate with one another and do so in a cautious manner. When feeling at risk to share information they will let keep it. Whereas a lack of empathy may lead to less sharing of the compassion and understanding needed to create a safe environment. People sense that something is happening, that the atmosphere between them is shifting. And yet, it takes a lot of time to realize what is happening and what it means.
Things change when a “crisis” appears, that is the effect of the plate tectonics becomes visible.
As the crisis appears, all the participants suddenly shift their risk tolerance and search for ways to deal with the conflict.
It is a moment that obliges everyone to focus on the situation at hand and search for a way out. It is a moment where the reasoning preventing people to establish a cooperative communication isn’t relevant anymore following the shift of risk tolerance.
The problem of not acting has become evident.
It is part of the human condition to believe that things will work out.
Crisis tell us that this isn’t always the case.
The choice humans have, is to address the situation and the conflict whenever they sense that it might be forming. There is no need to wait until things come out of control.