Conflict costs businesses and individuals billions every year. Not to mention the heartache that spreads around the world as a result of corrosive and continuing conflicts, be they domestic or global. Whether you are a parent trying to get your kids to bed on time, someone trying to make a customer complaint about your mobile phone, a business person trying to get paid on time, a mediator working with an employee and their boss, or someone working in the United Nations, attempting to sort out world peace, Hoda Lacey's book offers you a practical and detailed guide to the strategies and tactics you might employ to move from a `dialogue of the deaf' through to resolution of conflict and long term co-operation.
Having worked with scientists, academics and musicians for much of my life, I have experienced a number of conflicts, mostly over ideas rather than the hand to hand variety, I'm pleased to say. Whilst conflict has value in encouraging innovation through the battle of ideas, all too often people confuse this with a battle over the personalities behind the ideas. This is when Hoda's depth of skill and experience comes into play as a professional conflict handler.
Differing perceptions and expectations are often behind much conflict in daily life and Hoda offers a variety of ways for recognizing and harmonizing these. Some conflicts are simple, but many become complex which makes them much harder to handle. One example was the time when I sponsored English eccentric cult punk rocker John Otway's attempt to organize a record breaking rock'n'roll world tour in the spirit of `Spinal Tap'. The project failed not because it was a bad idea, but because it ran out of cash due to poor execution of the strategy. Having invested a considerable sum of my life savings in the enterprise and put my heart and soul into the project, I found lawyers simply made the debt recovery problem more complex at greater cost. Had I known Hoda at the time, I should have engaged her to unpack the complexity and get to the heart of the dispute. It is situations like this that demand the use of a professional conflict handler.
Hoda's book offers a compendium of approaches to the resolution of conflict. It is well-researched, in so far as it stands on the shoulders of giants such as Charles Handy, Edward De Bono, Daniel Goleman and Anthony Robbins. She also uses personal examples that will help you set your own situation alongside ones that are similar. Storytelling and narratives can be more powerful than a spreadsheet in helping people to see connections between events and in moving from the present into the future. I also like the fact that Hoda acknowledges power as a feature of conflict and encourages us to work with it, rather than holding the assumption that we all belong to the `flat earth society' - a land where all have the same amounts and types of power. I have worked with huge power differentials in my time, sometimes achieving David and Goliath type results in conflict situations where it simply should not be possible to reach any sense of equity. Hoda provides insights into how you may level the playing field in such circumstances.