Have a Nice Conflict: How to Find Success and Satisfaction in the Most Unlikely Places
January 2012, Jossey-Bass
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.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS xi
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
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.
—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
—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
—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
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.