Constructive Conflict Solutions
Enhancing professional and personal success through conflict competence

List of Resources

Recommended further reading on Conflict
Case Study James H.

Recommended further reading on Conflict

CPP, (2008) Global Human Capital Report. Workplace Conflict and how Businesses can Harness to Thrive.

Dana, D. (1999) Measuring the Financial Cost of Organizational Conflict. MTI Publications

Evans, S. & Cohen, S.S. (2000) Hot Buttons. How to resolve conflict and cool everyone down. New York, Harper Collins.

Fisher, R. & Ury, W. (1981) Getting to YES: Negotiating Agreement without giving in. New York, Penguin Press.

Fisher, R. & Shapiro, D. (2005) Beyond Reason. Using emotions as you negotiate. New York, Penguin Press.

Jones, T. S. & Brinkert, R. (2008) Conflict Coaching. Conflict Management Strategies and Skills for the Individual. California, Sage Publications.

Kilburg, Richard, R. (2000), Executive Coaching. Developing Managerial Wisdom in a World of Chaos. Washington, American Psychological Association.

McCorkle, S. & Reese, M. J. (2010) Personal Conflict Management. Theory and Practice. Boston, Allyn & Bacon

Runde, C.E & Flanagan, T.A., (2007) Becoming a Conflict Competent Leader. San Fransisco, Jossey-Bass.

Runde, C.E. & Flanagan, T.A. (2010) Developing your Conflict Competence. A hands-on guide for leaders, managers, facilitators and teams. San Fansisco, Jossey-Bass.

Slaikev, K. & Hasson, R. (1998). Controlling the Cost of Conflict. San Fransisco, Jossey-Bass.

Stone, D. & Patton, B. & Heen, S. (1999) Difficult Conversations. How To Discuss What Matters Most. New York, Penguin Press.

Ury, W. (1991) Getting Past No. Negotiating Your Way from Confrontation to Cooperation. New York, Bantam Press.

Ury, W. (2000) The Third Side. Why we fight and how we can stop. New York, Penguin Press.

Case Study James H.

James H. is a director of a large risk-management organization. His department includes a young team of underwriters all specializing in high-end professional liability coverage. Despite excellent results, HR has complained that the underwriting team in James's department displays strikingly high staff fluctuation. The reasons given by the departing underwriters show that James's temper, particularly in department meetings or in stress situations was causing many of these talented young underwriters to seek employment elsewhere. HR thereupon engaged Constuctive Conflict Solutions to help James deal with conflict differently.

Over a period of 24 sessions, James explored the meaning of conflict in his private life and in his professional capacity as a risk-management director. He used the last three department resignations as points of reference for the coaching process. He explored his natural responses to conflict, the impact of his responses on others and alternative responses that would meet his expressed desire to be a skilled leader within the organization. The central coaching process of supporting James in discovering the underlying drivers of his conflict profile was supplemented by conflict mapping, by conflict patterns, skills and strategies assessments which were conducted throughout the process at various intervals as well as a 360 assessment conducted early on in the process.

Through exploratory and powerful questioning, visualization and reflection, James was able to understand how he saw himself in a conflict situation, how much of his identity was perceived by him as endangered through conflict, how his conflict behavior was impacting the identity of others on his team and contributing to their decisions to leave the organization and what he could do to safeguard his identity while respecting the identity of others. James discovered that respect was the hook upon which a lot of his identity in a conflict situation hung. In demanding respect from others by losing his temper, he was losing their respect completely and finding his identity as a successful manager severely challenged.

The emotional perspective allowed James to explore why, from a purely emotional point of view, his response to conflict was regularly a loss of control and verbal abuse. The questions here were directed at how he experienced conflict emotionally (anger, depression, anxiety, fear, sadness), what triggered these emotional responses to conflict, what the effect of experiencing conflict in this way was having on himself and on his team and how these emotions were preventing him from running his department as he wanted to. Deep-seated fear of failure, of poor performance and of vicarious responsibility for the mistakes of those on his team that would implicate James as an incompetent leader, were uncovered as the emotions at the root of his irascibility.

The work on the perspective of power uncovered the discrepancy between the situation in which James found himself (losing staff and poor management skills) and the situation that he desired (to be well-liked and seen as management competent). It posed the question of what had to happen to create the desired outcome and what the effect would be on his management status and his position within the organization. The questions here focused on creating the outcome favorable to James in his role as managing director and head of a successful department. James discovered that his power as a manager lay in soft skills and in understanding his needs in relation to the needs of the others on his team. He also became aware of the fact that mastering these skills lay in his power. Through working on the power perspective, James was able to move from the perspective of power being wielded with a heavy hand from above, to an understanding of the potential of exercising collaborative and compassionate power without a loss of any hierarchical status.

Once James had uncovered his personal conflict pattern and style, had understood the emotional, identity and power issues surrounding conflict for himself as an individual and was aware of the changes he wanted to and could implement, he took on the challenge of drawing up an action plan surrounding his acknowledged lack of communication skills as well as a time-frame for completion. The HR department was asked to arrange communication skills training for James. After a month of practical exercises and recommended reading James returned to conflict coaching. The task that he now set himself, was to develop basic conflict strategies which would reinforce what he had learned and strengthen his position as a conflict competent leader. Together with the acquired communication skills and the supportive process of conflict coaching, James was able to set up a system of personal accountability that included regular personal reflection and self-care as well as monthly conflict coaching sessions. He has not lost a single team-member since 18 months.