Many people think negatively about conflict and want to avoid it, while others want to exert power and win arguments. But conflict is a natural part of life that should be embraced, according to a new book on the subject.
“Better and more creative outcomes can be realized by simply considering conflict as the intersection of differences,” says Patricia McGinnis, author of the new book “Change Pain to Gain: The Secrets of Turning Conflict into Opportunity” (Indie Books International, 2015).
McGinnis draws on her personal life and her professional experiences as a mediator and an administrator of a mediation program to show that conflict does not have to be adversarial.
She regularly prepares parents and educators to resolve their conflicts over the education of students in her position as coordinator of the Minnesota Department of Education Special Education Alternative Dispute Resolution Services.
In the book, McGinnis offers eight secrets for resolving disputes:
1. Conflict does not need to be feared. Conflict is a natural part of life and the best approach is to be neutral.
2. Conflict can turn into opportunity. Believe that there are possibilities for harmony and better outcomes when resolving conflict.
3. Burning anger just burns you. Holding onto anger damages a person’s body and spirit, and may prevent a resolution to the conflict.
4. My way or the highway is the wrong way. Always insisting on your own way is not productive.
5. Let your values be your compass. When you act consistently in accordance with your values, people will trust you and will be willing to engage in a conversation to resolve differences.
6. Stop assuming and start asking questions. Never assume the other party will be unwilling to find a solution. Ask carefully worded questions and listen carefully to the answers.
7. Conflict masqueraders could derail you. Not everyone sees the world in the same way, and some differences in people distract them from addressing their conflict.
8. Embrace conflict to find peace. Be willing to have the conversation, create solutions together, and protect relationships.
In addition to being a coach for professionals who facilitate difficult meetings, she has taught Conflict Management for administrators at the university level. She is a qualified neutral for the Minnesota Supreme Court and mediates divorce and post-divorce conflict.
“Change Pain to Gain” includes not only secrets for “Turning Conflict into Opportunity”, but also the necessary tools, tests, and tips for creative conflict resolution. “The tightly organized and clearly designed steps make this book an immensely valuable tool for a couple, a family, a work group, a church or a corporation,” says Deacon Richard Roy from St. Michael Church.