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How Society Re-Opening Could Cause Anxiety & Conflict

Whilst ‘freedom day’ on 19th July will have been the cause of celebration for many as the government lifted all legal coronavirus restrictions, it will have also been the cause of panic for some.

It’s important that we recognise this and at ADR we’ve been on the front line and witnessed it first-hand.

The clinically vulnerable have their concerns, as do others who believe that this has all come too soon in the midst of the ‘third wave’ of the virus. Then there are those who have suffered with conflict, with neighbours or in the workplace for example, and the thought of everything going back to normal comes with overwhelming concern.

What we’ve observed

It’s true that we saw a rise in tenant disputes among our housing association partners during the lockdown, particularly during the first lockdown, as we were all forced to stay at home. For many this became a new normal and now the thought of going back to our pre-pandemic life can cause anxiety for similar reasons. It’s a big lifestyle change. Change can cause anxiety which can then lead to more new conflicts.

We’ve seen that when people feel anxious they are generally less tolerant, so there is the expectation that we will see another rise in disputes as people get back to normal, just like we did when we went into lockdown. It’s the opposite situation but as we’ve said, it comes with similar concerns and therefore we expect a similar outcome.

Everyone is different

Every aspect of the pandemic can be the subject of debate amongst people. From lockdowns, to vaccines, to government policy, everyone has their opinions. Some stronger than others.

What will people expect of each other?

Will people expect others, neighbours, etc. to return to normal the same way as they are? Whether that’s cautiously or briskly straight back into living life like we used to.

Will people judge others for their personal approaches and beliefs? For example, wearing a mask or not. Having friends and family round or not.

Do people understand know why not everyone is confident to jump straight back into socialising and going out? Could it be that they have a relative or someone in their house that they are still concerned about getting Covid?

Are people making judgements without understanding other people’s perspectives?

As you can see, there is a lot of basis for potential conflict here so it’s important as people that we be empathetic of others’ situations and perceptions.

It’s important that as an organisation you understand this and have processes in place to help people and deal with conflicts as they do arise. It’s important to plan for an increase in disputes.

How things could develop

At the moment we are very much at the beginning of our journey back to normal despite the end of restrictions. Mentally and behaviourally it’s the beginning and there will be a lot to get used to again. This will take different lengths of time for different people.

As things progress new issues will present themselves. Right now there is so much uncertainty and anxiety that will lead to more conflict, but as we move forward and we see the effects of our freedoms more practical issues could arise too.

Will Covid case numbers continue to rise?

If so, will there be people blaming others such as neighbours who they’ve witnessed behaving freely and having house parties etc.?

Will such gatherings lead to noise disturbances and other grievances between neighbours?

Covid cases aside, will seeing more of our neighbours, especially during the summer, bring previously unresolved conflicts to the fore again?

There’s going to be different challenges along the way as we progress from the restrictions. The main thing now is to recognise this early and be prepared.

How can mediation help?

Our Conflict Coaching service and being a listening ear was so important for people at the beginning of the pandemic and we are starting to see the same trend now.

Help is at hand.

Conflict Coaching involves us working one-to-one with individuals as third party mediators.

This service empowers your tenants to take responsibility for their conflicts and find a resolution, therefore they don’t have to involve you in future issues. As we’re an independent party, you can simply pass each case to us as you see fit.

Be prepared for more new conflicts, talk to us today. Call us on 01772 954602.

We’re also currently offering free 1-hour mediation consultations. See how you could get more from mediation and book your review today by emailing

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