Bernie Mayer, one of the founders of the professional conflict management field and author of four best-sellers, has published his latest book with the American Bar Association and Jossey-Bass/Wiley. The Conflict Paradox: Seven Dilemmas at the Core of Disputes examines seven polarities that we often fall into as we try to make sense of conflict and respond to its challenges. Mayer suggests that the approach to resolve complex disputes is to move beyond these seemingly clear alternatives and to recognize that each element is essential to the other.
Approaches to Conflict
When in conflict should we cooperate and when should we compete? When should we be realists and when should we be guided by optimism? Do we insist on sticking to our principles or do we prepare for compromise? The toughest challenges in conflict arise from the polarized ways in which we view our choices about how to approach a dispute—choices that seem to involve two mutually exclusive paths, neither of which will get us to where we want to go. In The Conflict Paradox, Bernie Mayer argues that the real challenge is to find a new path that incorporates both approaches. These apparently opposing conflict practices need not be mutually exclusive—in fact, each is necessary to the other.
Dilemmas in Conflict
The Conflict Paradox poses seven dilemmas that permeate our thinking about conflict, whether a family crisis, a corporate dispute, or a geopolitical negotiation. Disputants often understand their choices as mutually exclusive and ask themselves the following:
• Competition or cooperation?
• Optimism or realism?
• Avoidance or engagement?
• Principle or compromise?
• Emotion or logic?
• Neutrality or advocacy?
• Autonomy or community?
The more fundamental challenge is to evolve beyond these polarities, which are not true choices but essential dynamics of human interaction. This book provides a practical approach for dealing with the paradoxes that underlie almost all conflicts. Case studies, reflective exercises, and other tools enable readers to discover points of contact between seemingly incompatible paths through conflict.
The Conflict Paradox is an accessible text, ready for application in the dispute resolution field. Readers will learn to accommodate contradictions, welcome complexity, and become more fluent in the paradoxical language of change. This book will challenge how you think about both conflict and social change, and encourage you to look at the dynamics of disputing in a new way.
About Bernard Mayer
Bernie Mayer, Ph.D., is an icon in the world of conflict resolution and a resident professor at Creighton University. With over a quarter century of experience in the field, he was a founding partner at CDR Associates, the internationally recognized mediation and conflict resolution organization, and originally trained as a psychotherapist. He has worked across the globe as a mediator, facilitator, teacher, trainer, dispute systems designer, and program administrator. His background spans family mediation, public and private sector consultation, environmental decision making, organizational conflict, and international mediation.
A true scholar as well as leading practitioner in the field, Mayer is the author of many works, including the following books:
- Beyond Neutrality: Confronting the Crisis in Conflict Resolution
- Staying with Conflict: A Strategic Approach to Ongoing Disputes
- The Dynamics of Conflict Resolution: A Practitioner’s Guide
- The Dynamics of Conflict: A Guide to Engagement and Intervention
- The Conflict Paradox: Seven Dilemmas at the Core of Disputes
Master Conflict Resolution
Learn from Bernie Mayer and other internationally recognized leaders in Creighton University’s Graduate Certificate and M.S. in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution programs. These programs prepare you for a specialized career in conflict resolution and allow you to apply what you learn to obtain leadership roles within a variety of industries. To learn more about our programs, call 866-717-6365 to speak with a Program Manager or request more information.