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Have a Nice Conflict: How to Find Success and Satisfaction in the Most Unlikely Places

ISBN: 978-1-118-20276-0
240 pages
January 2012, Jossey-Bass
Have a Nice Conflict: How to Find Success and Satisfaction in the Most Unlikely Places (1118202767) cover image
How to successfully navigate and prevent conflict

From the publishers of the popular Strength Deployment Inventory, Have a Nice Conflict follows one man's fight to rescue his sinking career. Sales manager John Doyle would consider his career a success—he's his company's top revenue driver, and his take-charge attitude gets the job done. However, when he is passed over for promotion—again—after losing two direct reports, who cite his abrasive style as their reason for leaving, John is forced to reassess how he approaches his relationships. With the help of Mac, an expert in the art of Relationship Awareness Theory, John learns the three stages of conflict, and how he reacts in each.

Once John recognizes his own values and trigger points, as well those of other people, he becomes able to better navigate terse situations, express his points in a way that resonates for other people, and even avoid conflict altogether. 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.

  • Reveals a practical understanding of how conflict really works
  • Shows how to recognize its initial stages of conflict, how to navigate it better to diffuse a situation, and how to understand the values of the other person to better frame your point for them
  • Provides guidance for moving beyond conflict to enhance relationships
  • Includes a five-step framework (anticipate, prevent, identify, manage, and resolve) and tools for locating conflict triggers in ourselves and others

Anyone can profit from the tools in this book to understand and take control over conflict.

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ix

ABOUT THE AUTHORS xi

Introduction 1

The Fable 3

Letter from John 199

John’s Notebook 203

A summary of learning

Dr.Mac’s Statement of Philosophy 219

A philosophical approach to learning as written from the perspective of Dr. MacWilson

Character Assessment Results 227

SDI assessment results for the characters featured in John’s story

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Tim Scudder, CPA, is the chief executive officer of Personal Strengths USA and has consulted with the organizational development, training, and human resources departments of many corporate, government, education, and not-for-profit organizations. He is also the author of several experiential training programs.

Michael Patterson, Ed.D., is the vice president of business development at Personal Strengths USA and an adjunct professor in the doctoral program at Pepperdine University's Graduate School of Education and Psychology. He began his career as a U.S. Army officer and then spent twenty years in a variety of sales, marketing, and training roles in the pharmaceutical industry.

Kent Mitchell is the vice president of communications for Personal Strengths USA. He is also an award-winning playwright and copywriter, and for nearly ten years, ran an advertising design agency in the Los Angeles area.

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“A must-read for anyone who wants to master the crucial skill of preventing and navigating conflict.”
—Joseph Grenny, coauthor, Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High

“If you want to recognize conflict sooner, resolve it quicker, and get better results, read this book!”
—Chuck Maisch, president, Süd-Chemie Inc.

“With a powerful message that's certain to improve your relationships at work and at home, Have a Nice Conflict is not only a wonderfully fun read, it's also a solidly credible one. Read, learn, and enjoy.”
—Jim Kouzes, coauthor, The Leadership Challenge; Executive Fellow of Leadership, Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University

“With Have a Nice Conflict, the authors have captured the music and drama-and sometimes humor-of real-time conflict, as well as a road map for how to manage and avoid the conflicts we find ourselves in everyday.”
—Hile Rutledge, CEO and owner, Otto Kroeger Associates; coauthor, Type Talk At Work

Have a Nice Conflict clearly details how to prevent, manage, and resolve personal and professional conflicts. With sound advice for those desiring to build partnerships with a positive win/win outcome, this is recommended reading for every member of your organization.”
—Donna L. Crisp, rear admiral, U.S. Navy (ret.); CEO, Crisp Atwood Group

“A great introduction to knowing yourself and collaborating effectively with others. It's also a good read; you won't be able to put it down.”
—Michael Maccoby, author, The Leaders We Need: And What Makes Us Follow

“The authors seek to empower readers to become masters of their own conflict and control their own lives. Have a Nice Conflict is a powerful read for anyone who wants to be able to diffuse life's conflicts more effectively.”
—The Midwest Book Review

“In telling the story of John Doyle, Have a Nice Conflict gives us an everyman who faces the same conflicts-large and small-that each of us experiences every day at home and in the workplace. Enter Dr. Mac, a combination of Marley's ghost, Yoda, and Peter Drucker to guide John-and us-through critical lessons in how to recognize, categorize, and deal with these conflicts. Within the context of an easy-to-read, enjoyable story, the authors provide valuable lessons that everyone who manages or works with people should know.”
—Mark Allen, professor, Graziadio School of Business and Management, Pepperdine University; author, The Corporate University Handbook

“This book gives a positive and easy-to-remember methodology to deal with conflicts, both large and small.”
—Peggy Thurmond, former CFO, McGladrey Capital Markets

Have a Nice Conflict does a superb job of distilling key personnel concepts into a succinct format that will be of great benefit to managers and employees alike. This narrative volume presents the enduring management principles of psychologist Elias Porter in an eminently sensible and approachable way. The authors use a case example to illuminate fundamental concepts in a manner that is both compelling and readable. A definite addition to the personnel management bookshelf.”
—Morgan T. Sammons, dean, California School of Professional Psychology

“With many of the latest popular business books, I fail to make the link from theory to the practical application of their contents, but because of the storybook format and application to relationships beyond business, the link from theoretical to practical in Have a Nice Conflict was obvious. Once I began seeing myself in the behaviors of one of the main characters, I couldn't put it down. Have a Nice Conflict heightened my understanding of Relationship Awareness Theory and kindled a desire to learn more!”
—Jonathan McGrael, director, training and development, Arbor Pharmaceuticals

“A gem! This book is packed with secrets for resolving conflict and attaining success. Read it now!”
—Mike Song, coauthor, The Hamster Revolution: Manage Your Email Before It Manages You

“Turning conflict into opportunity is a blend of skill and art best not left to learning by trial and costly error. The authors brilliantly take you through John Doyle's personal and professional journey. I found myself putting the insights to use the same day I read the book!”
—Ron Campbell, president, Center for Leadership Studies, Situational Leadership

“The best learning comes from stories, and you will not want to put this story down. The book is well written and full of good wit, with memorable Relationship Awareness Theory throughout.”
—Susan M. Hahn, president, Swan Consulting Group, Inc.

Have a Nice Conflict is the perfect resource to use in working with student groups, faculty, and staff. The authors weave the theory and its practical application in a wonderful and humorous story. As the student disciplinary officer of the college, I find it also a helpful tool in mediating conflict to a successful outcome for all parties involved.”
—Nikki Schaper, associate dean, student services, MiraCosta College

“This engaging book wonderfully illustrates skills that will help you turn the conflicts of your daily life into seeds of positive change-and it shows you how to do it!”
—Tony LoRe, CEO, founder, Youth Mentoring Connection/Urban Oasis

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January 23, 2012
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: 

  1.  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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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