Making Conflict Work


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About the Author

PETER T. COLEMAN is a professor of psychology and education at both Teachers College and the Earth Institute at Columbia University.

ROBERT FERGUSON has been a practicing psychologist and management consultant for more than twenty years.


"An excellent workbook-like guide based on the authors' seven strategies (that is, ways to deal with conflict): "pragmatic benevolence," "cultivated support," "constructive dominance," "strategic appeasement," "selective autonomy," "effective adaptivity," and "principled rebellion." Each strategy features a business case, six reasons to use this particular strategy, 10 explicit tactics that support that strategy, building blocks or competencies you'll need, and a skill-development checklist. For example, strategic appeasement is best exemplified by former Chicago Bulls and L.A. Lakers head coach Phil Jackson, who says such things as "Over my lifetime, I've rarely or never disagreed with a boss" and "I've always been known as an accommodator where I work." People will employ the appeasement strategy when they're getting hazed or are gaming the system; tactics for than range from cozying up to the bully, to "forget" to ask permission, and remembering to apologize. Their concluding remarks underscore the book's purpose: 'Know yourself better in conflict.'" --Booklist, STARRED review "Coleman and Ferguson have done something remarkable: they've written an evidence-based book on the complex topic of conflict and made it easy to read, easy to understand and, best of all, easy to use. A genuine winner." --Robert B. Cialdini, author, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion "Navigating conflict effectively is an essential component of leadership. Making Conflict Work illustrates when to compromise and when to continue driving forward." --Honorable David N. Dinkins, 106th Mayor of the City of New York "This book is a necessity. As someone who has navigated the traps of power and conflict across the globe, it is refreshing to find a book that calls it what it is, and offers useful advice on turning traps into prospects for change. Read it." --Leymah Gbowee, 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Liberian peace activist "Making Conflict Work gives us a way to think about how we deal with conflict in hierarchical organizations. Especially helpful are the chapters that link conflict intelligence--how we routinely deal with conflict--to actionable strategies." --Deborah M. Kolb, professor emerita, Simmons College Graduate School of Management "Through a superb balance of interviews, case studies, and evidence-based insights, the authors provide valuable lessons on how leaders can manage conflict." --Steve Cohen, executive director, The Earth Institute, Columbia University "An innovative and practical look at how to navigate everyday disagreements to reach your goals, serving up examples of best practice drawn from the authors' decades of experience helping others cope with conflict, power and change." --Larry Susskind, cofounder, Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School "Managers who try to suppress conflict not only make things worse, but also stifle opportunities for creative problem-solving. Making Conflict Work should be essential reading for all managers." --Michael Wheeler, retired professor, Harvard Business School; author, The Art of Negotiation "Coleman, professor of psychology and education at Columbia University's Teachers College, and Ferguson, a psychologist and executive coach, examine the challenges and opportunities inherent in conflicts with authority figures and subordinates, and pro --

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