Book Review: Conflict 101

Handling conflict is one of the most difficult things a leader has to deal with.  Unfortunately, conflict in the workplace is inevitable. 
  • In fact, research shows that 42 percent of a manager's time is spent addressing conflict.  And, over 65 percent of performance problems are caused by employee conflicts.
Managers new in their leadership role typically have had little to no training on how to deal with conflict.

Fortunately, in Susan H. Shearouse's new book, Conflict 101, you can learn:
  • How conflict is created
  • How we respond to conflict
  • How to management conflict more effectively
Shearouse explains that even though conflict is inevitable, it can lead to both growth and progress.  "There is little progress that is not preceded by some kind of conflict," says Shearouse.

I found particularly helpful in the book the definitions of the following five different types of conflict and then how best to deal with each:
  1. Problems to solve
  2. Disagreement
  3. Contest
  4. Fight
  5. Intractable situation
Also helpful are the "consider this" questions asked of the reader in at the end of each chapter, along with the list of "homework" to do's.

Shearouse does a good job of teaching effective ways to:
  • Confronting conflict at the earliest possible level when it's easiest to resolve
  • Become more aware of how different people deal with conflict
  • Have the courage to admit mistakes
  • Rethink anger
  • Foster compromises and collaborations
  • Keep a sense of humor and sense of empathy
  • Build trust among coworkers
  • Harness negative emotions
  • Encourage apologies and forgiveness
  • Use a solution-seeking approach
  • Say what needs to be said   
Shearouse has served as Executive Director of the National Conference on Peacemaking and Conflict Resolution and on the Advisory Board of the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University. Her clients have included the US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Note: Thanks to the author for sending me an advance copy of the book.


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