Getting to Resolution Turning Conflict into Collaboration by Stewart Levine

According to Stewart Levine, "Many people have difficulty accepting that life is filled with surprises, conflict, disappointment, and unmet expectations. These things happen-consistently and predictably." It's easy to fall into the conflict is 'bad' trap and in his book, Getting to Resolution, Turning Conflict into Collaboration, Levine reminds us that conflict and problems are opportunities: "an opportunity to demonstrate your creativity."

First Levine provides readers with the tools. Similar to the models developed at the Harvard Negotiation Project which are the foundation of much of the work we do at Common Outlook, Stewart has developed a seven step model for resolution that is based on the idea of a win/win outcome.  The seven steps are:

1. Developing the Attitude of Resolution
2. Telling Your Story
3. Listening for a Preliminary Vision of Resolution
4. Getting Current and Complete
5. Seeing a Vision for the Future: Agreement in Principle
6. Crafting the New Agreement: Making the Visions into Reality
7. Resolution: When Your Agreement Becomes Reality

Then he deals with the mind set. For the tools to be effective you need to be genuine and there are ten principles Levine feels are essential to being genuine. He recommends we move from:

1. From scarcity to abundance. This principle will be familiar to those of you who have attended Common Outlook's workshops: there's more than enough for all. The pie can expand.
2. From wasting resources to efficiency.
3. From problems, issues and emotions to creativity.
4. From fostering conflict to fostering resolution.
5. From righteous bravado and posturing to vulnerability.
6. From short-term adversary to forming long-term collaborations.
7. From logic to feelings and intuition.
8. From secrecy to fully disclosing information and feelings.
9. From winning to learning through the resolution process.
10. From deferring to professionals to becoming responsible.

As he outlines each principle and step, Levine uses examples from both business and home. The examples not only show how to apply the techniques, they serve to remind us to put time into improving those most important relations: those with people we love. Don't leave all the good stuff at the office. As I read the book, I was reminded again of the importance of listening. "We need to tell our stories. We need to have others hear our stories. Winning is not the only thing; it is not everything."

At the end of each chapter, Levine includes a section he calls Reflections. He suggests activities to help reinforce the tools and techniques. My favourite was:

"Spend a day in silence, just listening to the stories in your surroundings. Put a sign around your neck saying, 'I'm not speaking today, just listening.' "

A Common Outlook recommended read.

This book review was written by Helen Latimer

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