Conflict can be about choice. Conflict can be about values. Conflict can be about perception. But how often do we mis-read the signs of whether conflict is over?
Confusing ceasefire with stalemate. People may bite their lip and choose not to argue. It doesn’t mean they agree with you. Perhaps they’re just thinking of a way to break the stalemate to their advantage.
Confusing ceasefire with the opposition choosing to leave the battlefield entirely. New start-up companies uncover what they see as market opportunities to exploit. Sometimes, there’s a good reason why no one’s exploiting that market. A parent might think their toddler has stopped screaming because they’ve given in. Instead the child has taken the initiative by crawling off to explore the wider World.
Confusing ceasefire with running out of your own ammunition. If you’re in charge, watch out for this one with your ‘troops’. Ammunition in this case might be budgeted funds, information, inertia or bodies on the ground.
Confusing ceasefire with winning the battle, but losing the war. Not all ceasefires are created equal. In peacetime, letting the debate (the clash of values, or disputes about the facts) run its course all the way to the the final stage, might be far more productive that shutting it down prematurely.
Confusing ceasefire with being drawn forward into an ambush. The opposition hasn’t left the battlefield, it just looks that way. Beware. Look for corroborating evidence.