Technology writer and consultant David Micah Kaufman reviews the book Resolving Conflicts at Work: A Complete Guide for Everyone on the Job by Kenneth Cloke and Joan Goldsmith. Kaufman reviews book’s theme of seeking resolution to conflict at work instead of settlement.
While we all seek harmony at work, conflict is inevitable. The challenges of the complex modern American workplace naturally create issues and disagreements. A book that I use in my practice is Resolving Conflicts At Work : A Complete Guide for Everyone on the Job by Kenneth Cloke and Joan Goldsmith. The book, which is subtitled, “Eight Strategies for Everyone on the Job,” offers excellent guidance for anyone dealing with conflict. It is a good primer for supervisors and executives who need to manage employees who get into conflicts (which is everyone).
An important theme that runs through the book is the need to seek resolution of conflicts as opposed to settlement. According to the authors, “Superficial settlements often lead to silence, sullen acceptance, distrust, and renewed hostilities.” Resolution, in contrast, “leads to learning, change, partnership, community, innovation, increased trust, and forgiveness.”
The book also effectively uses the concept of an iceberg as a metaphor for conflict. “Each deeper layer of the iceberg of conflict represents something that does not appear on the surface,” but adds meaning to the existing conflict. Additionally, Cloke and Goldsmith point out that conflict can actually be constructive â€“ helping us make organizational changes and/or move the enterprise forward. Unfortunately, the book’s advice is sometimes hard for those in midst of a conflict to fully appreciate. The book is most effective when individuals can consider its advice outside of the stress of conflict.
David Micah Kaufman is the founder of BIGGER PIES! â€” a boutique professional services consulting firm in San Francisco â€” and a regular contributor to HR Insight and HRIT. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (415) 272-8115.