Unresolved workplace conflict wastes time, increases stress, and negatively affects business outcomes. But conflict isn’t the problem, mismanagement is.
Leaders unintentionally mismanage conflict when they fall into patterns of what Marlene Chism calls “the Three As:” aggression, avoidance, and appeasing. “These coping mechanisms are ways human beings avoid the emotions that come with conflict, but in the end it’s all avoidance,” says Chism. In this book she shows how to fearlessly deal with conflict head-on by expanding your conflict capacity.
Conflict capacity is a combination of three elements. The foundation is the Inner Game—the leader’s self-awareness, values, discernment, and emotional integrity. The Outer Game is the skills, tools, and communication techniques built on that foundation. Finally, there’s Culture—the visible and invisible structures around you that can encourage or discourage conflict.
Chism offers exercises, examples, and expert guidance on developing all three elements. Leaders will discover techniques to increase leadership clarity, identify obstacles, and reduce resistance. They’ll develop powerful skills for dealing with high-conflict people and for initiating, engaging in, and staying with difficult conversations.
Readers will learn that when they see conflict as a teacher, courageously face it, and continually work on transforming themselves, they can get the resolution they are seeking. They can change minds.
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About the Author
Table of Contents
Introduction: Conflict Is Not the Problem 1
Leaders have an opportunity to be a channel for chaos or a catalyst for clarity.
1 Conflict Capacity: Comfort Is Not a Requirement 17
Skills development that doesn't lead to embodiment is just a notch above entertainment.
2 Identity: The Price of Being Too Nice 39
The story that's been resolved no longer needs to be told.
3 Leadership Clarity: Staying the Course 59
Leadership identity is about how you see yourself, and leadership clarity is about how you see the situation.
4 Emotional Integrity: Anger Is Not the Truth 79
Think of blame as a shortcut for avoiding responsibility.
5 Environmental Impact: Structure Determines Behavior 101
Our perceptions and interpretations create structures of knowing.
6 Resistance Training: Working with High-Conflict People 119
Disruptive people will continue to be disruptive as long as no one has the courage to confront them.
7 Skills: A Blueprint for Difficult Conversations 141
The answers will come through the conversation, not before the conversation.
8 Responsibility: The Recognition of Choice 167
When you find your choice, you find your power.
Conclusion: It's Worth It 187
Study Guide and Book Club Facilitation 189
About the Author 207