In September, I published 51 Training Resources For Project Managers, one of the most popular articles on this website. To finish off this month’s series on conflict management, I thought I would present a similar list resources with a focus on conflict management resources. You will find resources across the spectrum here, so you can use this guide whether you are a novice or seeking advanced education. Remember – conflict is inevitable in projects and you are the manager!
Conflict Management Resources: Books
Books are an excellent way to start your educational journey of learning how to manage and respond to conflict situations. Consider the following titles to begin your studies in the topic. Note that I have not read these books. They are listed to provide a variety of perspectives on the topic.
1) The eight essential steps to conflict resolution : preserving relationships at work, at home, and in the community by Dudley Weeks (1994)
This book focuses on working through conflict to create fruitful outcomes. The author has a PhD
2) Conflict 101 : a manager’s guide to resolving problems so everyone can get back to work by Susan H Shearouse. (2011)
For some professionals, the “soft” nature of interpersonal skills is a turn-off. Shearouse’s books promises to help you solve conflict, handle negative emotions and get back to work.
3) Perfect phrases for conflict resolution : hundreds of ready-to-use phrases for encouraging a more productive and efficient work environment by Lawrence Polsky and Antoine Gerschel (2011)
The right word at the right time can make all the difference. Take a look at this book if you are searching for ways to express your thoughts and feelings in conflict situations.
4) Making conflict work : harnessing the power of disagreement by Peter T Coleman and Robert Ferguson (2014)
At first glance, disagreements are frustrating in projects. You’re working hard to finish a complex change request or get agreement from a sponsor – disagreements are all around you. This new book shows how to understand and use power dynamics to your advantage.
5) Why great leaders don’t take yes for an answer: managing for conflict and consensus by Michael A Roberto (Second edition, 2013).
Group think is a major problem in the corporate world (and in the public sector). If you are tired of easy answers, consider picking up this book. You will be reminded of the importance of conflict for testing assumptions and more.
6) The mediator’s handbook by Jennifer E Beer, Caroline C. Packard and Eileen Stief (Rev. & expanded 4th ed, 2012)
Mediators are called in to solve particularly challenging conflicts. If your project is facing a serious conflict, this handbook will provide an introduction on how mediators approach conflicts. If you are already working with a mediator (e.g. over a disputed contract), this book can help you to understand how a mediator would approach the situation.
7) Managing risk in communication encounters: strategies for the workplace by Vincent R Waldron and Jeffrey W Kassing (2011)
Similar to resource three, this book focuses on the importance of communication in conflict. Topics covered include responding to privacy related matters and offering criticism. I`ve read research suggesting that project managers spend over 50% of their time on communication so it pays to get better.
8) Difficult conversations: how to discuss what matters most by Douglas Stone, Sheila Heen and Bruce Patton. (10th anniversary edition, 2010).
Based on the work of the Harvard Negotiation Project, this classic book is a staple of leadership and management courses. The book presents a model that can be applied to handling many types of conflict. The capability to handle difficult conversations will also improve your ability to negotiate.
9) Everything Is Workable: A Zen Approach to Conflict Resolution by Diane Musho Hamilton (2013)
Mindfulness is becoming more and more popular as a way to manage stress and solve other problems. This book introduces the reader to common conflict management styles.
10) Everyone can win: responding to conflict constructively by Helena Cornelius, Estella Cornelius and Shoshana Faire (2006)
This widely translated book has been become a standard textbook for handling conflict. The book emphasizes emotional intelligence and seeking good outcomes for everyone involved. Out of habit, many approach conflict as a zero-sum situation – this book points out a different path.
11) Emotional intelligence for project managers : the people skills you need to achieve outstanding results by Anthony Mersino (2013)
As I quoted from this book heavily in my article Recovering From Project Conflict, it is no surprise to see Mersino’s book featured here. Improved emotional intelligence can help project managers to prevent conflict from occurring in the first place.