Sunday, April 22, 2012

Book Review - Conflict Resolution Smarts

Conflict Resolution Smarts: How to Communicate, Negotiate, Compromise, and More

By: Matt Doeden
Publisher: Twenty-First Century Books
Publication Date: January 2012
ISBN: 978-0761370208
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: April 21, 2012

Seldom a day goes by when we face some sort of conflict in our lives, but when the conflict involves another person or group of people, resolution can oftentimes be difficult. When this book defines the word ‘conflict’ it means that it “is a disagreement between two or more people or groups.” Sometimes when we are in the throes of a disagreement, it seems that resolution is impossible, however when “handled properly, conflict can be a positive thing, with results that benefit everyone.” In this book you will learn how to approach conflict and bring it to a resolution in a number of ways, particularly through the use of proper communication.

There are many places we encounter conflict, including at home, school, and on the job; essentially, “anywhere people want the same limited resource conflict can arise.” Have you ever had a fierce disagreement with someone only to find out that it was caused by a simple misunderstanding? It happens all the time. If we don’t learn to listen properly or communicate in ways that others can understand, conflict will arise when we least expect it. Conflict is a process that starts from a simple seed and escalates. When this happens, people react in an assortment of ways from domination, avoidance, to attempting to manage conflicts that arise.

When faced with conflict there are different approaches or strategies we can use to effectively resolve our differences. Strategies we have available to us include “competition, compromise, accommodation, arbitration, mediation, and collaboration.” You will receive an overview of each one of these, perhaps even finding a solution if you are facing some sort of conflict. Of course the “ultimate conflict management strategy is collaboration,” but that’s not always possible. You’ll also learn about expressing yourself, proper communication, checking your emotions at the door, using “cooling-off’ periods, thinking about what you say, you will learn how your parents can help, communication in different realms of your life (home, work, online, school), and you’ll learn many more things about “conflict resolution smarts” that will help you live a better life.

The material is very well researched and written in such a manner that doesn’t come across as preachy, but rather exudes a tone that a mentor might use to help a young person. Many adults could take a few pointers from this book as conflict travels with us through life. As I read, I kept thinking that this would be an excellent guide for a teacher to read and discuss with students. An example of a conflict between two best friends is discussed in the beginning of the book and is occasionally referenced. There are full-color photographs, USA Today articles and “Snapshots,” and numerous informative sidebars scattered throughout these pages. In the back of the book is an index, a glossary, a selected bibliography, and additional recommended book and website resources to explore.

Quill says: This is an excellent guide that will help teens to understand conflict and learn how to deal with it.

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