Have a Nice Conflict: How to Find Success and Satisfaction in the Most Unlikely Places
January 2012, Jossey-Bass
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Have a Nice Conflict
Everyone has to deal with difficult people, whether they are argumentative, anal retentive, smothering, or just plain annoying. Perhaps these are even some character traits we see in ourselves. While it’s a universal truth that everyone wants to be understood, some just don't have the tools to communicate constructively.
Have a Nice Conflict: How to Find Success and Satisfaction in the Most Unlikely Places (Jossey-Bass; 978-1-118-20276-0; e-book available: January 2012) by Tim Scudder, Michael Patterson and Kent Mitchell is a fable that sheds light on how conflict really works – how to recognize its initial stages, how to navigate it better to diffuse a situation, and how to understand the values of the other person to better frame your point of view.
Have a Nice Conflict begins with the story of Sales Manager John Doyle who is passed over for a promotion - once again. Leading up to this point, he had also lost two direct reports, who cite his abrasive style as a reason for leaving. Dealing with this setback, John seeks to learn about the three stages of conflict and how he reacts to each. By recognizing his own trigger points, as well as those of other peoples, he becomes able to better navigate terse situations.
Have a Nice Conflict provides guidance for moving beyond conflict to enhance relationships, including a five step framework for having more productive conflicts that result in stronger relationships:
- Anticipate: Anticipating conflict starts with having a better understanding of the people you’re dealing with and how their view of a situation might differ from your own. When you respect a persons’ unique vantage point, you’re better equipped to steer clear of their conflict triggers.
- Identify: There are three basic approaches in conflict: rising to the challenge (assert), cautiously withdrawing (analyze), or wanting to keep the peace (accommodate). When you are able to spot these approaches in yourself and others, you are empowered to handle conflict situations more productively.
- Manage: Managing conflict involves creating conditions that enable others to manage themselves out of the emotional state of conflict. But it’s also important to manage yourself out. Managing yourself in conflict can be as easy as taking some time to see things differently.
- Resolve: To create movement toward resolution, we need to show the other person a path back to feeling good and valued. When people feel good about themselves, they are less likely to feel threatened and are free to move toward resolution.
Equipped with this new understanding of how other people interpret and react to conflict, John soon finds all the relationships in his life – both at work and at home – improving.
Conflict will always be a fact of life. Have a Nice Conflict is a valuable tool for anyone to understand and take control over conflict.