Getting to Resolution 2nd Edition

Turning Conflict Into Collaboration

Stewart Levine (Author)

Publication date: 11/01/2009

Bestseller over 20,000+ copies sold

Getting to Resolution

Our current models for ending conflict don’t really work. They waste incredible amounts of time, money, and energy and take an enormous emotional toll on participants. The parties remain embittered, relationships are destroyed, and often the conflict just reappears later in a different form.

In this second edition of his classic book, Stewart Levine offers a revolutionary alternative approach that goes beyond compromise and capitulation to provide a satisfactory resolution for everyone involved. Marriages run amuck, neighbors at odds with one another, business deals gone sour, and the pain and anger caused by corporate downsizing are just a few of the conflicts he addresses. The new edition has been thoroughly revised with new examples, new tools, new material about building trust and virtual collaboration, as well as a more global outlook.

Levine rejects the adversarial legal model: "If both sides are unhappy, you probably have a good settlement." Resolution, he shows, provides relief and completeness for both sides. No one goes away unhappy. Effective resolution stops anger and resentment cold, drastically cutting the emotional cost and allowing both sides to return to productive, satisfying, functional relationships. Getting to Resolution outlines the ten principles underlying this new approach—what Levine calls “resolutionary thinking. Levine provides a detailed seven-step process for using this new mindset to resolve conflicts in a way that fosters dignity and integrity, optimizes resources, and allows all concerns to be voiced, honored, and woven into the resolution.

Levine's model has a thirty-five-year track record. It has been developed, implemented, tested, and proven in business, personal, and governmental contexts. Getting to Resolution will enable readers to shift from thinking about problems, fighting, and breakdowns to thinking about collaboration, engagement, learning, creativity, and the opportunity for creating enduring value.

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Overview

Our current models for ending conflict don’t really work. They waste incredible amounts of time, money, and energy and take an enormous emotional toll on participants. The parties remain embittered, relationships are destroyed, and often the conflict just reappears later in a different form.

In this second edition of his classic book, Stewart Levine offers a revolutionary alternative approach that goes beyond compromise and capitulation to provide a satisfactory resolution for everyone involved. Marriages run amuck, neighbors at odds with one another, business deals gone sour, and the pain and anger caused by corporate downsizing are just a few of the conflicts he addresses. The new edition has been thoroughly revised with new examples, new tools, new material about building trust and virtual collaboration, as well as a more global outlook.

Levine rejects the adversarial legal model: "If both sides are unhappy, you probably have a good settlement." Resolution, he shows, provides relief and completeness for both sides. No one goes away unhappy. Effective resolution stops anger and resentment cold, drastically cutting the emotional cost and allowing both sides to return to productive, satisfying, functional relationships. Getting to Resolution outlines the ten principles underlying this new approach—what Levine calls “resolutionary thinking. Levine provides a detailed seven-step process for using this new mindset to resolve conflicts in a way that fosters dignity and integrity, optimizes resources, and allows all concerns to be voiced, honored, and woven into the resolution.

Levine's model has a thirty-five-year track record. It has been developed, implemented, tested, and proven in business, personal, and governmental contexts. Getting to Resolution will enable readers to shift from thinking about problems, fighting, and breakdowns to thinking about collaboration, engagement, learning, creativity, and the opportunity for creating enduring value.

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Meet the Author


Visit Author Page - Stewart Levine

                                                                                        Stewart Levine

       Stewart improves productivity while saving the enormous cost of conflict using “Agreements for Results” and “Resolutionary” conversational models. As a lawyer he realized fighting is  ineffective in resolving problems. At AT&T he learned why collaborations fail: people do not create clarity about what they want to accomplish, and how they will get there. He has worked across the organizational spectrum – Fortune 500, small, government and non-profit. His “Cycle of Resolution” is included in the “Change Handbook, 2d Edition.” His book "Getting to Resolution: Turning Conflict into Collaboration” (Berrett-Koehler 1998, 2009) was an Executive Book Club Selection; Featured by Executive Book Summaries; named one of the 30 Best Business Books of1998; and called “a marvelous book” by Dr. Stephen Covey. It has been translated into Russian, Hebrew and Portuguese. “The Book of Agreement” (Berrett-Koehler 2003) has been endorsed by many thought leaders, called “more practical” than the classic “Getting to Yes” and named one of the best books of 2003 by CEO Refresher (www.Refresher.com). Along with David Coleman he wrote “Collaborate 2.0” that was released in February 2008. He teaches communication, relationship management and conflict management skills for The American Management Association, the   University of California Berkeley Law School and Dominican University Graduate Business School.    www.ResolutionWorks.com      

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Table of Contents

Part I: The Value of Resolution

  1. Resolution: Getting Beyond Conflict, Compromise, and Settlement
  2. The Many Costs of Conflict

Part II: A Better Way of Resolving Conflict

  1. Two Brothers-A Story of Resolution
  2. A Roadmap for Resolving Conflict: The Resolution Model

Part III: New Thinking that Fosters Resolution: Ten Principles

  1. Principle I: Believing in Abundance
  2. Principle II: Using Resources Efficiently
  3. Principle III: Being Creative
  4. Principle IV: Fostering Resolution
  5. Principle V: Becoming Vulnerable
  6. Principle VI: Forming Long Term Collaborations
  7. Principle VII: Relying on Feelings and Intuition
  8. Principle VIII: Disclosing Information and Feelings
  9. Principle IX: Learning Throughout the Resolution Process
  10. Principle X: Becoming ResponseAble

Part IV: The Resolution Model in Practice: A Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Step 1: The Attitude of Resolution
  2. Step 2: Telling Your Story
  3. Step 3: Listening for a Preliminary Vision of Resolution
  4. Step 4: Getting Current and Complete
  5. Step 5: Reaching Agreement in Principle
  6. Step 6: Crafting the New Agreement
  7. Step 7: Resolution
  8. How the Resolution Model Applies the Principles
  9. Benefits and Uses of the Resolution Model

Part V: When You Need Professional Help

  1. Using the Power of the Legal System
  2. Choosing a Professional: The Resolutionary

Part VI: The Power of Resolution

  1. Practicing Resolution in Your Everyday Life

Endnotes

Selected Bibliography

Index

About the Author

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Excerpt

Getting to resolution

1 Resolution: Getting Beyond Conflict, Compromise, and Settlement

Through dialogue even the most un-resolvable conflicts can be worked out and everyone wins. The process did not include litigation or the emotional roller coaster ride that accompanies most conflicts. It was a delightful experience.

Bill Brown, President, Influence Communications

I remember being surprised when told that settlement of a lawsuit is often characterized by thinking that “if both sides are unhappy, you probably have a good settlement.” Resolution is much better than settling! Resolution provides relief and completeness. The situation no longer gnaws at your gut.

The most fitting dictionary definitions of resolution are: (1) the act of unraveling a perplexing question or problem; (2) solution; and (3) removal or disappearance, as in the disappearance of a tumor.

The third is the most important, even though often aspirational. It means “as if it never happened.” The gnawing effect I call “internal chatter” has disappeared. The lack of chatter frees you to focus energy and attention on the present. If you’ve ever had a back injury, poison ivy, or a broken bone, you know what I mean. Something is resolved when the injury or illness does not impede the present moment.

This is important. You don’t want to keep dealing with the current impact of yesterday’s conflict. The effect may consist of holding anger or resentment, or thinking the result or compromise was unfair. Perhaps you compromised to get the situation behind you, or you deferred to someone else’s decision.

Although at times I have tried not to, for more than 25 years—as a lawyer, mediator, consultant, and trainer—I have practiced a resolutionary3 attitude, one that looks for the fair outcome from everyone’s perspective. Whether you are a hired advocate or you have a personal stake in the outcome, you can adopt an “attitude of resolution.” Evaluating the situation through the lens of resolution, you become an observer of what might be fair to everyone in the situation, even if you are directly involved. Standing in other’s shoes provides the critical perspective. The attitude of resolution is a skill you can cultivate by being aware, reserving your own judgments, and asking yourself if there is another solution that would serve everyone’s long- and short-term interests. It takes practice to develop this new habit of thinking, but I have found this orientation far more useful than trying to win.

Why Resolution?

Have you ever met someone who could not stop talking about something that happened in the past? It pervades their life as if it happened yesterday, although it may have taken place 20 years ago. They are stuck in the past, cut off from the ability to fully participate in their unfolding life.

Conflict has an emotional cost that remains after the battle is over. Win or lose, the scars may be with you for the rest of your life. Some people spend their lives focusing on the promotion they “lost,” the business they “lost,” the divorce they “lost,” the project they “lost.” This tunnel vision keeps them locked in the grip of their own anger.

They might even have “won,” but they have not healed the real cause of the conflict—a breakdown in a relationship that was valuable enough for them to invest emotional energy in a battle. They never completed grieving and they still carry the emotional suffering. They never “resolved” the real issue. They may never even have identified it! Our current ways of thinking that focus on winning guarantee a cost: suffering. The small battles between partners, parents and children, and employees and bosses take a significant toll.

Productivity and satisfaction, in business and personal relationships, come from our ability to collaborate with others. When you are resolved, you can fully focus on the tasks at hand. Your efforts are undiluted. Unresolved conflict, on the other hand, is an impediment to productivity and to satisfying, functional relationships. In today’s world of “knowledge work,” focus and creativity are essential. It’s impossible to be fully productive when you are angry. That’s why resolving the situation that’s sapping your strength and attention is very important.

It is equally important to have a sense of resolve when you start any new collaboration or relationship. You collaborate with others by reaching agreements. Your dependence on others is based on an intricate, pervasive web of agreements. Sometimes these agreements are explicit, but often they are implicit. Your collaboration will be stronger when you can recognize the implicit agreements within it. When you start out with uncertainty, or come into conflict during a project, you experience the cost of not being resolved from the outset. You also realize how inadequate your agreement-making and conflict-resolution tools are. Even though making agreements and resolving conflicts are essential life skills for working with others, they have not been taught to most of us.

Many current practices for resolving conflicts and starting collaborative relationships hinder us because of the way we were programmed to think, and because of the standard systems and practices in place. This book provides you with the following new tools:

1. Ten Principles of a new paradigm—a new way of thinking about conflict resolution.

2. The Cycle of Resolution, a seven-step model for preventing and resolving conflict that is a road map of new behaviors.

These ten principles and this seven-step model will maximize your ability to resolve conflict and achieve desired results in any business or personal relationship.

The Value of Resolution at Work

As organizations cut costs, differentiate products, and streamline productivity, people need to work within increasingly complex webs of face-to-face and virtual collaboration toward common goals. They need tools that foster collaboration in the face of distance and differences of opinion and “culture.” Rather than being angry and stuck, you must learn skills that foster resolution and quickly return you to productivity. This book presents the model for collaborative conversations that result in getting more done with fewer resources. This book reveals how agreement—the final step of resolving a conflict or the first step in the beginning of a new relationship—is an ongoing process, and that conflict and diverse opinions are opportunities for creativity and innovation. You will learn how to establish agreements based on deep heartfelt connection— agreements based on covenant.

Some of the benefits of establishing agreements based on covenant include:

Establishing shared vision of senior management

Improving teamwork

Creating partnership

Motivating participation

Including diverse perspectives and opinions

Using differences productively

Coordinating with external teammates

Using resources efficiently

Communicating more effectively

Building self-managing, high-performance teams

Forging consensus quickly

Fostering an environment of learning and growth

Promoting continual improvement

Capitalizing on the advantages of virtual organizations

Providing a more formal model of communication

essential for effective virtual collaboration.

The Value of Resolution at Home

In addition to their applications in workplace settings, the tools in this book will unlock more satisfying and intimate personal relationships within marriages, families, and less traditional partnerships that are part of our diverse social fabric. Because we usually think about personal relationships from an emotional and romantic perspective, it is difficult to accept that a linear process for resolving conflict and constructing agreements with specific promises about behavior will be helpful in producing more satisfying intimate relationships. My own experience leads me to suggest you bring the tools of this book into your personal life.

The Big Picture

One primary challenge in getting to resolution is reaching an agreement in principle—a broad understanding of what the resolution will be. Once you have an agreement in principle, the heavy lifting is done. Filling in the details of a new agreement can be an enjoyable exercise in visionary thinking. You get to an agreement in principle when you cross a self-imposed emotional barrier and can let go of a position you have taken. For most people, this is not easy. It may require going against a lifetime of dealing with conflict in a different way. The steps of the model are designed to get you beyond this hurdle.2

Getting beyond the emotional barrier is not like personal therapy. The internal work is accomplished as a result of new thinking (adopting the values of the ten principles) and new actions (following the steps of the model). Every step of the model contributes to resolution by making you speak your thoughts, feelings, and perceptions about the conflict. Once your story is articulated and no longer purely emotional, you and others can deal with it.

Although the steps of the model seem linear, getting to resolution is not a linear process. Mechanically going through the steps will not lead to resolution unless you have embraced the values of the ten principles. Once you embrace the principles, you have embraced the model’s first step, the Attitude of Resolution. Each successive step takes you toward resolution by making you go deeper into the personal, emotional, and human aspects of the conflict. You don’t have to say yes to the principles because they feel good, seem right, or are morally or politically correct. It’s fine to buy in because the cost of remaining in the conflict is too great. What is important is to get into the personal, emotional, and human aspects of the conflict. Regardless of what you say the conflict is about, the conflict is held as an emotional presence between you and at least one other person.

The new model provides a systematic approach. When you learn something new, it is important to have standard practices to follow. Standards provide guidance as you learn the new skill. When you learn to ski, drive a car, or fly an airplane, you put in place fundamentals that become unconscious habits. The model provides these fundamentals. Using the model develops habit and competence, and you discover the value of the principles. When you gain competence you will start to develop your own artistry—innovations within the standard practices. Once you internalize the principles and steps, resolution can happen quickly!

Personal Responsibility for the Value of Resolution

Most of us avoid taking personal responsibility for conflict resolution. Even though our culture is litigious, we lack the courage to connect deeply with others and we personally avoid confrontation. If we have a disagreement in a business transaction or with a neighbor, we may let a lawyer take care of it. If we have emotional conflict, we may visit a therapist or counselor who (we hope) will tell us what to do.

The symptoms of conflict are stress, pain, and discomfort. When you take personal responsibility, you can impact the cause of the pain much faster than if you ask someone else to resolve the situation for you. Being responsible requires being open and vulnerable. If you are unwilling or unable to be authentic about your feelings, you may be quick to give up responsibility, and instead take false safety and security behind a more sterile, professional process. In doing that, you give up the potential of addressing your real concerns, getting to the core of the conflict, and reaching resolution.

Delegating conflict resolution to professionals who know how to diagnose and resolve your problems is a culturally learned response. But delegation compromises us when the professionals believe they are experts better equipped to make the key decisions that affect the core of our lives. Conflicts are filled with our feelings, and the professional to whom we hand the conflict does not have to live with the results of the resolutions.

This book is a call for personal responsibility. It asks you to adopt new practices, and to assume a new attitude in the world. It requests that you take personal responsibility for dealing with conflicts, differences, and disagreement, and that you become ResponseAble. Giving the process away deprives you of the satisfaction of “getting to resolution.” You are uniquely capable of designing the best resolution and you will have the energy for follow-through because you own the solution. By being involved you derive value, strength, and the sense of self that full participation provides. Of course, there will be times when you need help. This book provides the guidance you may need.

Learning New Behaviors

This book is a learning tool. My overriding concern is that you learn new thinking and new behaviors, new practices that will improve your professional and personal life. If you keep doing the same thing, you will keep getting the same results. Learning is the ability to take new actions to achieve new results. Unless you implement new behaviors, you have not learned anything.

Resolution is simple, but it is not easy. This book will not be hard to understand. Your life experience has taught you many of the skills you need to master the art of resolution. The challenge is implementation—developing the habit of living the principles and behaviors on a daily basis.

In addition to my own experience, as background research for the first edition I spoke with more than a hundred senior conflict resolution professionals. Their insights validated many of the ideas in the book. And the ideas have been further validated by my experience over the last ten years. The stories in the book are true, although some of them are composites. They have been disguised to cloak the identity of individuals and organizations. You can be both facilitator and participant by internalizing the model and learning to become an observer of your situation. A goal of the book is for you to become “meta” to the situation—that is, you are outside or above it. I do it all the time, and you can too. The resolution principles and model can also be used for third-party interventions—when you try to help friends or co-workers resolve a conflict in which you are not personally involved, or as manager when you have direct responsibility.

I am inspired by the aim of resolution. I hope to inspire you. Getting to Resolution will teach you about patience, inquiry, learning, and expanding your perspective. The power and integrity of resolution leads to outcomes you cannot invent yourself. It’s the difference between the sound of one hand clapping and two!

Getting to Resolution helps you understand what you already know about conflict. It shows you a simpler, more effective approach to reaching, modifying, and maintaining collaborative agreements, a key to your professional and personal success.

Summary

image Resolution is taking care of conflict so that there are no lingering aftereffects. It is better than compromising because the cost of the aftereffects is less.

image The key challenge is reaching agreements in principle. This becomes easier when we adopt the principles of Resolutionary Thinking and engage in the dialogues that the Cycle of Resolution prescribes.

image Resolution has great value at work, at home, and within yourself. It is a skill you can learn by developing the habit of the new practices.

Reflections

image How was conflict handled when you were a child?

image Have you adopted, without consciously choosing, the patterns you saw as a child? Do those patterns serve you?

image How do the ways you handle conflict make difficult situations worse?

image What would it be like if you could behave in ways that lead to the results you really wanted? How might your life be different?

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Endorsements



“A marvelous book! By contrasting the old ‘win/lose’ paradigm with the new ‘win/win’ paradigm, Levine focuses on a number one problem, namely, how we solve problems. The mind set, the skill set, and the context are beautifully interwoven in this well-illustrated analysis.”

—Stephen R. Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

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