Conflict does not come out of nowhere but proceeds from latent tension, develops into overt conflict, erupts into power struggle, and from there crosses the threshold of destructive conflict and violence. As Thirdsiders, our aim is not to suppress conflict altogether but simply to keep the trajectory of escalation below this threshold.
In a addition to being a perspective, the Third Side is a systemic approach to handling conflict. We have at least three major opportunities to transform conflict from destructive fighting into constructive change.
The first is to prevent destructive conflict from emerging in the first place by addressing latent tensions. The second is to resolve any overt conflicts which do develop. The third is to contain any escalating power struggles that temporarily escape resolution. What is not prevented is resolved; and what is not resolved is contained. The motto of the Third Side is thus: "Contain if necessary, resolve if possible, best of all prevent."
In difficult conflicts it's often not enough to use one mode. Many of these conflicts can best be transformed by using all three modes.