The best conflict management books

4 authors have picked their favorite books about conflict management and why they recommend each book.

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Leading Through Collaboration

By John P. Glaser,

Book cover of Leading Through Collaboration: Guiding Groups to Productive Solutions

A very personal look at strategies, mindsets and tools to create collaborative leaders and more collaborative organizations. John Glaser balances both theory and practical advice gained from his extensive experience as both an outside consultant and an internal leader, as school superintendent of one of California’s most prominent and successful school districts, Napa Valley Unified School District. John Glaser knows what he’s writing about.

Who are we?

Jim Tamm was a Senior Administrative Law Judge for the State of California with jurisdiction over workplace disputes. In that role, he mediated more school district labor strikes than any other person in the United States. Ron Luyet is a licensed psychotherapist who has worked with group dynamics pioneers such as Carl Rogers and Will Schutz.  He has advised Fortune 500 companies for over forty years specializing in building high-performance teams. Together they wrote Radical Collaboration and are excited to share this list with you today.

We wrote...

Radical Collaboration: Five Essential Skills to Overcome Defensiveness and Build Successful Relationships

By James Tamm, Ronald Luyet,

Book cover of Radical Collaboration: Five Essential Skills to Overcome Defensiveness and Build Successful Relationships

What is our book about?

Collaborative skills have never been more important to a company's success and these skills are essential for every worker today. Radical Collaboration is a how-to-manual for creating trusting, cooperative environments, and transforming groups into motivated and empowered teams. James W. Tamm and Ronald J. Luyet provide tools that will help you increase your ability to work successfully with others, learn to be more aware of colleagues, and better problem-solve and negotiate.

Radical Collaboration is an eye-opener for leaders, managers, HR professionals, agents, trainers, and consultants who are seeking constructive ways of getting the results they want.

High Conflict

By Amanda Ripley,

Book cover of High Conflict: Why We Get Trapped and How We Get Out

Amanda Ripley is a smart journalist and exquisite writer who knows how to weave a compelling tale. She spent several years studying mediation and conflict resolution, and visiting conflict research labs like mine at Columbia and Jon Haidt’s at NYU, in order to offer this informed, accessible book. Amanda is able to easily communicate the problem of what she calls “high conflict”, the opposite of “good conflict”, and steps we all can take to decrease the worst forms of these in our life. An excellent and useful book.

Who am I?

I have spent more than 30 years in my lab at Columbia University studying how seemingly intractable conflicts develop and the conditions under which they change. I'm a professor at Columbia, a social psychologist who has studied, taught, and written about conflict for decades. I'm also a mediator, facilitator, and consultant who has worked with divided groups and communities around the world. I direct the Morton Deutsch International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution at Columbia, where we run the Difficult Conversations Lab, an audio/video/physio “capture lab” where we systematically study the dynamics of divisive moral conflicts to try to understand when encounters over them go well and when they go terribly wrong. 

I wrote...

The Way Out: How to Overcome Toxic Polarization

By Peter T. Coleman,

Book cover of The Way Out: How to Overcome Toxic Polarization

What is my book about?

The way out of our current culture of contempt can be hard to see unless you know where to look.

This book will show you. It offers insights from leading research on how deeply divided societies can and do change. It will suggest what you can do – the actions, skills, and competencies that will help you navigate these times most effectively – as well as what to look for in groups and organizations in your community that are already at work making America more functional again.

Lawyers as Peacemakers

By J. Kim Wright,

Book cover of Lawyers as Peacemakers: Practicing Holistic, Problem-Solving Law

In contracting, lawyers are often the heavies that swoop in at the end of the negotiation with risk-averse and protective conditions that can delay or derail a strategic business relationship. This book is the top pick on my list because Kim Wright advocates for organizations (and lawyers themselves!) to make the shift to a holistic, problem-solving approach. I am a strong believer in a kinder, gentler legal involvement at the beginning of the negotiation designed to help contracting parties solve problems and issues jointly. Wright eloquently makes her case on why the shift is needed. After you read this book you too will see the need for the shift of focus away from traditional contracting paradigms.

Who am I?

I am an international authority for my award-winning research on the Vested® business model for highly collaborative relationships. I began my research in 2003 by studying what makes the difference in successful strategic business deals. My day job is the lead faculty and researcher for the University of Tennessee’s Certified Deal Architect program; my passion is helping organizations and individuals learn the art, science, and practice of crafting highly collaborative win-win strategic business relationships. My work has led to seven books and three Harvard Business Review articles and I’ve shared my advice on CNN International, Bloomberg, NPR, and Fox Business News.

I wrote...

Contracting in the New Economy: Using Relational Contracts to Boost Trust and Collaboration in Strategic Business Relationships

By David Frydlinger, Kate Vitasek, Jim Bergman, Tim Cummins

Book cover of Contracting in the New Economy: Using Relational Contracts to Boost Trust and Collaboration in Strategic Business Relationships

What is my book about?

Today’s business environment is constantly evolving, driven by digital transformation, globalization, and the need to create value through innovation. These shifts demand organizations view contracting through a different lens – one of aligning interests and mitigating risk. Contracting in the New Economy provides a profound yet straightforward five-step approach for developing formal relational contracts that help parties create a flexible contract framework that continually aligns interests. The book is a must-read for anyone developing contracts. As Oliver Hart, Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences, writes in the forward, “It is rare that theory and practice converge, but this (book) is one occasion they do.” Contracting in the New Economy will help you put relational contracting theory into practice for your own relationships.

The Anatomy of Peace

By The Arbinger Institute,

Book cover of The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict

Whether we are dealing with interpersonal or intergroup relationships it is easy to slip into an oppositional perspective when it comes to others. Regardless of what the sources of difference are, this book provides insights that can help anyone communicate more productively and lead successfully. I also love the narrative style in which the insights are imparted.  

Who am I?

I have been a Professor of Communication Studies for decades and I strongly believe that the quality of our communication is inescapably tied to the quality of our lives. For me, communication and intercultural experiences have always been marked by serendipity. Serendipities are unexpected finds or discoveries that eventually turn out to be insightful, pleasant, and stimulating even when they are difficult at the time. My time interacting with others in different regions of the U.S., Europe, and Asia has provided for surprising, scary, joyful, and frustrating experiences that have been full of serendipity. I hope that in reading these books you will also harvest serendipity. 

I wrote...

Among Cultures: The Challenge of Communication

By Bradford Hall, Patricia O. Covarrubias, Kristin A. Kirschbaum

Book cover of Among Cultures: The Challenge of Communication

What is my book about?

We, as humans, are at heart storytellers. This book is grounded in the idea that people make sense of their world through a process of choosing and telling narratives to themselves and others. We use stories and commentary to explain the challenges of intercultural communication. Each chapter begins with a guiding question and a narrative that illustrates a particular intercultural challenge and provides context to discuss ideas for understanding and navigating the multicultural world in which we live.

The book explores the nature of culture, the role of identity, worldviews, and values in communication. It illustrates challenges in both verbal and nonverbal communication and investigates the nature of conflict, prejudice, and how to deal ethically and effectively with differences in a wide variety of settings.

Anger Management Workbook for Kids

By Samantha Snowden,

Book cover of Anger Management Workbook for Kids: 50 Fun Activities to Help Children Stay Calm and Make Better Choices When They Feel Mad

Anger is so often protecting something tender underneath. When we teach children to dig deeper, to be curious about their angry feelings, we offer them a path to emotional health and better relationships. While many anger management programs (for kids and adults) neglect the nuances of anger’s protective function, this book delivers insightful lessons and activities to help children dig deep. The colorful layout and bright illustrations capture children’s interest even as they learn about this difficult topic. A great resource for turning on the calm and curious part of the brain that we are all working hard to help children develop.

Who am I?

My super-power is making brain science accessible and entertaining for children and adults alike. I am living this out as an author, mental health counselor, and the founder of BraveBrains. In addition to training parents and professionals, I have the joy of sharing my passion and expertise through podcast appearances, blogs, and articles. The lightbulb moments are my favorite, and I'm committed to helping people bring what they learn home in practical ways. I write picture books because the magic of reading and re-reading stories light up the brain in a powerful way. But don’t worry…I always include some goodies for the adults in the back of the book.

I wrote...

What's Inside Your Backpack?

By Jessica Sinarski, Joanne Lew-Vriethoff (illustrator),

Book cover of What's Inside Your Backpack?

What is my book about?

Zoey Harmon just wants to feel light-hearted and carefree. Unfortunately, she keeps getting weighed down by pesky “books” in her backpack, like Worry and Shame. Much to her surprise, she’s not the only one! Zoey learns that the adults in her life deal with these difficult feelings too! Luckily, they have some bright ideas that can help her set aside the books she’s not meant to carry! Will it be enough to help her with the biggest book of all?

While there are no quick fixes for all of life’s complex problems, What’s Inside Your Backpack? highlights some of the ways we can nurture resilience in body and mind.

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