February 1, 2012
News & Opinion: Have a Nice Conflict
Have a Nice Conflict landed on my desk the same day that I happened to watch a current episode of Sesame Street with my son that features Mother Goose and her struggle to write a new rhyme because she had run out of conflicts to inspire her. As with all Sesame Street skits, there is a lesson to be learned. Conflict happens, and while the drama of a good conflict can be sensational (or rhyme-spirational), it's important to learn how to work through them to maintain good relationships between friends. It struck me that day that while we are taught from an early age how to deal with conflict--everything from a friend breaking a toy to handling the playground bully--it's not an easy thing to master. Whether we are 6 or 46. So it is that we still very much need books like Have a Nice Conflict. Few people are really good at dealing with conflict. Possibly because conflict comes in all shapes and sizes. And even if you are someone who handles conflict well, you may be dealing with a friend or coworker who does not. Because conflict is, at it's roots, emotional, and as with most things, emotions often get in the way of logical resolution. In Have a Nice Conflict, the authors, Tim Scudder, Michael Patterson, and Kent Mitchell of Personal Strengths USA, tell the story of John Doyle, a sales manager who was going places until his interpersonal style--described in the book as abrasive, which worked well in making sales deals but not so well internally--begins to work against him. When his team starts to abandon ship, and he is turned down for a promotion, Doyle is encouraged to see a "conflict doctor" named Mac. As you may have guessed from the above description Have a Nice Conflict is a business fable. "Although this tale is pure fiction, the situations were inspired by our real-world experiences in personal and organizational development--and life in general." Underlying Doyle's story are "the practical ideas of relationship awareness theory" with the goal of not only resolving workplace conflict, but also enabling people to "reduce the amount of conflict you experience in your life." The story begins with John Doyle having a very bad day. Not only is he passed over for promotion, but his top sales representative has surprisingly resigned. John had already had one of his top performers leave several months earlier, and on that same very bad day, he found out that he, John Doyle, was the prime reason that person had left. He learns from a respected customer that "the lifeblood of any organization is people. Our lives in general are all about people. You got conflict in your life? You're choking off your blood supply." That same customer also hands John a business card that reads, "Have a Nice Conflict" and includes a phone number. Enter Dr. Mac who will act as guru to John Doyle as he learns a lot about improving his people skills. What happens next is best left between the covers of this book, a book that not only tells a fast-paced and genial story, but also includes such unique additions as John's Notebook, Dr. Mac's Statement of Philosophy, and the Character Assessment Results (lots of helpful graphs and graphics) that explain the Strength Deployment Inventory assessment that the authors know so well. If conflict has you tied in knots, Have a Good Conflict is certain to help you understand the motives, behaviors and perceptions of the people involved and how they change when conflict rears its head. Perhaps it won't be resolved as quickly as those in nursery rhymes, but certainly this book will lead you closer to a happy ending.
About Sally Haldorson
Sally Haldorson's job as 800-CEO-READ’s General Manager is to make 800-CEO-READ a great place to work for our employees, and a consistently high-performing customer service organization for our clients, authors, and our partners in the publishing industry. In addition to her General Manager duties ensuring collaboration, integration, and quality, she reads, writes, reviews, curates, and edits for the company. Helping craft The 100 Best Business Books of All Time used parts of both skill sets. Outside of work, she is most likely to be found hitting a tennis ball around or hanging out with her boys (husband, child, dog) at home.