Shulist Scale Of Conflict


Think | Act


One in a series of Leadership Articles to cause you to think and perhaps to act. Read other articles.

Some time ago a few colleagues of ours were sitting around and talking with us about the various scales we have for reference. These include the Beaufort Scale (measures wind speed), Mohs Scale of Mineral Hardness, The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, and others.

Given our regular ill-informed state, and the fact that drink was on the table, we got into an argument over what makes up the four types of scales (it turns out that the four are nominal, ordinal, interval, and ratio and you can read about them here). The argument ultimately led us to opine that there was no scale of conflict.

In a more sober state we thought about this problem for a few months and eventually came up with something that might work. It seems to us that there is a mathematical increase in the participants of a conflict and we thus need to match common descriptions of conflicts events with an appropriate level to make sense in common language. So to jump again into the abyss of potential criticism here is our effort at correcting this deficiency;

Shulist Conflict Scale

Category Conflict Description Alternative descriptions Behaviours
1 Brouhaha Hubbub, Commotion, Ruckus A broad reaction to something that is disagreeable. Generally it is manifest in public comments, conversational sidebars, commentary and complaining at the water cooler or in the lunch room. Rarely does the object of frustration become involved.
2 Disagreement Discord, Dissent Generally involving no more than two people. Can involve harshly spoken words usually at conversation level. May involve the "silent treatment" if the parties know each other well.
3 Altercation Controversy, Dispute, Wrangle A serious disagreement that is usually contained to two parties but may involve their law firms. The level of irritation is significant and may result in heated conversation or silence for decades if the parties cannot resolve the differences.
4 Kerfuffle Tiff, Quarrel, A disorderly outburst. Might involve more than two parties. Often will have loud voices and muffled threats. Usually occurring in public places.
5 Fracas Row, Scrap, Will involve multiple parties often taking more than two sides. Shouts and loud references to questionable lineage and threatening gestures and hand signals. Often accompanied by close body contact and in your face actions.
6 Donnybrook Fisticuffs Generally starts with two individuals and usually draws in more (perhaps up to 100), and escalates to a physical contact activity where inanimate objects are used as weapons and blows may be struck. No prior planning or organization has occurred. Black eyes and broken fingers are generally the only damages.
7 Melee Rumble, Brawl Two or more groups take part in a fist swinging, weapon wielding fight. Generally organized in advance. Serious injuries can be inflicted and generally outside constabulary are needed to quell the anger.
8 Battle Struggle Two or more factions mobilize trained combatants and meet in battle using military weapons. At the individual level there may be no disagreement. Generally associated with disputed territory, religion or philosophy. Usually contained to small land area.
9 War Jihad Two or more countries or belief systems raise significant armies and wage battles over vast spans of the world. Uninvolved citizens injured or killed in the conflict are considered collateral damage.
10 Armageddon,   The final battle between good and evil.

Scale Type

So what type of scale is this? Well we think it is a ratio scale. The conflicts increase in intensity (as measured by the potential number of people involved) but have yet to determine the actual math that would work. At a category 2 conflict two people are involved, at a category 10 conflict the whole world is involved.

Your opinion?

We’d look to our loyal readers to provide opinion and criticism too, so feel free to comment.

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