Conflicted: How Productive Disagreements Lead to Better Outcomes

Conflicted: How Productive Disagreements Lead to Better Outcomes

by Ian Leslie
Conflicted: How Productive Disagreements Lead to Better Outcomes

Conflicted: How Productive Disagreements Lead to Better Outcomes

by Ian Leslie


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Drawing on advice from the world’s leading experts on conflict and communication—from relationship scientists to hostage negotiators to diplomats—Ian Leslie, a columnist for the New Statesman, shows us how to transform the heat of conflict, disagreement and argument into the light of insight, creativity and connection, in a book with vital lessons for the home, workplace, and public arena.

For most people, conflict triggers a fight or flight response. Disagreeing productively is a hard skill for which neither evolution or society has equipped us. It’s a skill we urgently need to acquire; otherwise, our increasingly vociferous disagreements are destined to tear us apart. Productive disagreement is a way of thinking, perhaps the best one we have. It makes us smarter and more creative, and it can even bring us closer together. It’s critical to the success of any shared enterprise, from a marriage, to a business, to a democracy. Isn’t it time we gave more thought to how to do it well?

In an increasingly polarized world, our only chance for coming together and moving forward is to learn from those who have mastered the art and science of disagreement. In this book, we’ll learn from experts who are highly skilled at getting the most out of highly charged encounters: interrogators, cops, divorce mediators, therapists, diplomats, psychologists. These professionals know how to get something valuable – information, insight, ideas—from the toughest, most antagonistic conversations. They are brilliant communicators: masters at shaping the conversation beneath the conversation. They know how to turn the heat of conflict into the light of creativity, connection, and insight. 

In this much-need book, Ian Leslie explores what happens to us when we argue, why disagreement makes us stressed, and why we get angry. He explains why we urgently need to transform the way we think about conflict and how having better disagreements can make us more successful. By drawing together the lessons he learns from different experts, he proposes a series of clear principles that we can all use to make our most difficult dialogues more productive—and our increasingly acrimonious world a better place.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062878564
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/23/2021
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 303,181
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Ian Leslie is the author of two acclaimed books on human behaviour: Born Liars: Why We Can’t Live Without Deceit and Curious: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends On It (“Rich with insight and answers”, San Francisco Book Review). He is a regular contributor to the New Statesman, the Economist/1843,  the Guardian, and the Financial Times.

Table of Contents

Prologue: The Interview 1

Part 1 Why We Need New Ways to Argue

1 Beyond Fight or Flight 9

2 How Conflict Brings Us Closer 24

3 How Conflict Makes Us Smarter 46

4 How Conflict Inspires Us 70

Part 2 Rules of Productive Argument

5 First, Connect 87

6 Let Go of the Rope 105

7 Give Face 124

8 Check Your Weirdness 141

9 Get Curious 163

10 Make Wrong Strong 172

11 Disrupt the Script 184

12 Share Constraints 199

13 Only Get Mad on Purpose 209

14 Golden Rule: Be Real 223

Part 3 Staying in the Room

15 The Infinite Game 231

16 Rules of Productive Argument Summarised 250

17 Toolkit of Productive Argument 252

Acknowledgements 258

Notes 261

Bibliography 267

Index 276

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