When the pressure is on to decide what course of action to take in response to a conflict situation, unintended consequences are guaranteed to happen.
When those consequences happen, parties often frame them in terms of “accidents” or we try to dismiss them by appealing to ours (or the other party’s) “best intentions.”
The other mistake we make is we try to plan for those consequences. To compound our mistake, we try to do it after the fact, hampered by cognitive dissonance, hindsight biases, and the desire to avoid pain at all costs.
But in the end, all planning to mitigate outcomes is really guessing, and all guessing is speculation.
Too many folks in a conflict would rather react first and accept the consequences later than to plan to respond in a conflict regardless of the consequences.
Too many folks are too concerned about planning for the consequences, not of their own behavior and actions, but for the consequences of the other party’s behavior and actions.
But this is a fools’ errand at best and blinkered at worst. The best advice on avoiding this type of planning came from the Civil War General, Ulysses S. Grant, it is better in a conflict to be less worried about that which is going to happen to you, and be more worried about what you are going to do to the other person, in the conflict.
No person can foresee all consequences (intended and otherwise) that might happen because of their actions.
The best way to mitigate the impact of unintended consequences is not to plan for their arrival.
The best way to mitigate the impact of unintended consequences is to execute your plan.