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Art of Conflict Management: Achieving Solutions for Life, Work, and Beyond

Art of Conflict Management: Achieving Solutions for Life, Work, and Beyond

Professor Michael Dues Ph.D.
University of Arizona

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Art of Conflict Management: Achieving Solutions for Life, Work, and Beyond

Art of Conflict Management: Achieving Solutions for Life, Work, and Beyond

Professor Michael Dues Ph.D.
University of Arizona
Course No.  5964
Course No.  5964
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Course Overview

About This Course

24 lectures  |  30 minutes per lecture

Conflict is everywhere, something we all experience on a regular basis. Whether it's learning that your spouse has a different kind of vacation in mind than you do or that your boss's idea of your job differs from your own, conflict is simply an inevitable aspect of human relationships. As desirable as it might seem, there's just no way to live a conflict-free life.

Handled badly, conflict can do real harm, both to you and the people you care about the most. It can cripple your career and the businesses you work for. And it can leave its scars on your community and even your nation.

Handled well, however, conflict can be extraordinarily useful. If you have the skills needed to identify and resolve conflict, it can actually be your

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Conflict is everywhere, something we all experience on a regular basis. Whether it's learning that your spouse has a different kind of vacation in mind than you do or that your boss's idea of your job differs from your own, conflict is simply an inevitable aspect of human relationships. As desirable as it might seem, there's just no way to live a conflict-free life.

Handled badly, conflict can do real harm, both to you and the people you care about the most. It can cripple your career and the businesses you work for. And it can leave its scars on your community and even your nation.

Handled well, however, conflict can be extraordinarily useful. If you have the skills needed to identify and resolve conflict, it can actually be your ally. It can help you identify and solve problems. And it can build deeper and stronger relationships, whether with your coworkers, supervisors and subordinates, or your closest friends and loved ones.

Most of us, though, haven't been lucky enough to have been taught those vital skills or to have learned the ways in which factors like perspective, emotions, goals, and power can create or drive a conflict. For better or worse, we've had to pick things up as we went along, beginning in our homes or schoolyards and going on from there. All with uneven results that can play out for the rest of our lives, burdening us with a default conflict "style" that may be dysfunctional at best and seriously harmful at worst.

The Art of Conflict Management: Achieving Solutions for Life, Work, and Beyond is an opportunity for you to gain those essential skills. Its 24 lectures are brimming with practical tips, tools, and techniques everyone can use to better manage conflict in his or her professional and personal lives, which receive equal emphasis in the course.

Strategies and Tactics You Can Use Right Now

Presented by Professor Michael Dues of The University of Arizona—an award-winning teacher, writer, author, and successful consultant to both public and private organizations—these lectures will show you how to effectively deal with conflicts of all kinds, using the "win-win" model that has dominated the field for the past six decades.

  • You'll gain effective techniques for handling conflicts in your workplace, other organizational settings, or your personal life, whether you're dealing with supervisors, coworkers, acquaintances, close friends, or family members.
  • You'll learn the best ways to analyze conflicts and work through the steps toward resolving them, including clarifying goals, handling difficult emotions, and negotiating agreements.
  • And you'll grasp the fundamental tricks of the trade that experienced negotiators have long used to deal with even the most seemingly intractable moral and cultural conflicts.

While drawing on the latest groundbreaking research, Professor Dues has designed this course to be as practical as possible. Requiring no background in conflict management, negotiation, or psychology, the lectures offer you not just knowledge, but strategies and tactics you can put to work in your own life right now.

See the Best Conflict Management Techniques in Action

Best of all, you'll be able to see those strategies and tactics in action. Professor Dues has crafted 70 professionally acted dramatizations to illustrate different conflict situations at home and in the workplace.

Most of these situations will be familiar to all of us, undoubtedly echoing similar conflicts we've experienced in our own lives. And as you watch them unfold, you'll grasp far more than what works and what doesn't. You'll understand why.

Moreover, to ensure that you gain a true working feel for the dynamics at play in each of these situations, Professor Dues ends each lecture with a simple yet provocative "assignment."

He asks you to focus on events in your own life in which those same dynamics have been felt, and to then apply what you have just learned in evaluating your own statements and actions. There's no better way to get a real handle on a conflict you know well and to see immediately what needs to happen to resolve it.

Even something as simple as offering an apology, for example, takes on a whole new light after you learn the five components that must be included if an apology is to be truly accepted and effective. And while most of us probably believe we already know how to apologize, it's likely that many of our own apologies might not include all of these essentials:

  • A specific statement of the offending behavior
  • An acknowledgment that it was harmful
  • Our assumption of responsibility for both the behavior and the harm done
  • An admission of regret
  • Our commitment to not repeat the behavior

Discover New Realizations about the Conflicts in Life

Time after time, you're likely to catch yourself in a quick one-two punch of realization after Professor Dues makes a telling point, or after a pair of dramatizations illustrates the right and wrong way we can communicate during a conflict:

Realization No. 1: Well, of course. That makes sense. I probably knew that already. Quickly followed by...

Realization No. 2: I don't think I actually said it that way the last time I was in that situation. Maybe that's why things didn't work out as well as I had hoped.

The lectures abound with examples producing similar realizations. Professor Dues repeatedly reveals conversational pathways that make all the sense in the world, but that we might not necessarily take or even consider on our own. By folding these insights into the findings of six decades of research and presenting the material in easily digestible form, he succeeds in leaving you with knowledge that manages to be both eye-opening and intuitive.

That knowledge becomes a toolbox of techniques you can put to work today, not only preventing as many conflicts as possible but equipping you to manage in the best possible way the ones that do take place in spite of your best efforts.

One of the most remarkable points Professor Dues makes is how even the most seemingly intractable conflicts can be eased toward resolution by these techniques. His riveting descriptions of how they have been put to use on the world stage—including President Carter's creative eliciting of empathy during the Camp David negotiations between Israel and Egypt—offer profound examples of how powerful these techniques can be.

And while your own conflicts may not seem to rise to a similar scale, there is no mistaking the impact they can have on your own world, where your relationships—at work, with friends, or with family—define your success and happiness.

You don't have a choice about becoming involved in conflict. You do, however, have a choice about learning to manage it successfully and about using the invaluable tools this course can give you.

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24 Lectures
  • 1
    Why Conflict Management Matters
    The study of conflict management has made enormous strides since the mid-20th century. In this introductory lecture, learn what conflict is, why it is inevitable even in successful relationships, and why dealing with it constructively is both essential and beneficial, whether in your business or personal life. x
  • 2
    The Adversary System
    Recognition of conflict and its costs goes back to the philosophers of ancient Greece. Grasp both the advantages and disadvantages of the system they devised to cope with it, including the adversary system's underlying assumption that conflicts are inherently competitive, with resolutions requiring winners and losers. x
  • 3
    Morton Deutsch and the Concept of Win-Win
    Meet the founder of modern conflict management theory, whose research resulted in a far different approach than that envisioned from the adversarial perspective. His finding that most conflicts can, in fact, produce a "win" for both sides has dominated the field for the last 60 years. x
  • 4
    Perception, Perspective, and Punctuation
    Conflict arises not so much out of differences between parties, but in how those differences are perceived by each side. Gain fresh insight into the factors that shape those perceptions, including the critically important fundamental attribution error, of which just about everyone is guilty. x
  • 5
    Managing Multiple and Conflicting Emotions
    Emotions, even when powerfully felt, do not have to derail your attempts to manage or resolve a conflict. This lecture describes the role these "internal facts" play in any conflict and offers useful tools for recognizing and handling them in yourself and others. x
  • 6
    Multiple, Complex, and Changing Goals
    Goals that appear simple on the surface actually have many layers, with each concealing different needs. Add a key skill to successfully managing conflict by learning to identify the multiple goals driving both parties. x
  • 7
    Power—How Much We Need and How to Use It
    Power is in play in every conflict, but its "advantage" is less than you may think. This discussion of the sources and uses of power reveals a valuable insight from recent research: that lasting resolutions are more likely when power is equally distributed. x
  • 8
    Conflict Styles
    An exploration of the five most common "default strategies," or styles, of conflict management upends a commonly held assumption. Compromise, it seems, is not the most effective conflict management strategy. It produces results far less desirable than the preferred strategy for producing "win-win" results, which is collaboration. x
  • 9
    Dysfunctional Conflict Strategies
    Dissect the rogue's gallery of strategies that should never become your ongoing conflict management style and that are best avoided unless they are the only viable alternatives. Delve into the damage that can be done through avoidance, withdrawal, imposition, triangulation, manipulation, absolute framing, payback, or compromise. x
  • 10
    Principled Negotiation
    Explore the basic principles underlying the true "win-win" approach. These include understanding the importance of separating people from the problem; focusing on interests instead of positions; generating multiple options for mutual gain; and basing your choices on objective criteria. x
  • 11
    Preparing and Arranging to Negotiate
    Approaching a negotiation can be just as important as the negotiation itself. This lecture explains the steps you need to take in first recognizing whether the basic conditions for negotiation are present and then arranging for the actual negotiation. x
  • 12
    Negotiating Conflict Resolutions
    Enhance your chances for success at the table by absorbing the essential "how-to" steps for conducting the negotiation, gaining a clear agreement, and following through—including the steps you should take when agreements are or aren't kept. x
  • 13
    Listening in Conflict
    It's one of the most important skills you can have in your relationship tool kit, but it's also one in which many of us fall short. Learn the fundamentals of this demanding skill, including the key things you should focus on in discerning someone's real messages. x
  • 14
    Dynamic Patterns in Close Relationships
    Dealing with conflict in your personal relationships, whether with friends, family, work colleagues, neighbors, or simply acquaintances, requires its own special set of skills. Gain vital insights into the conflict management styles that can sustain or damage those relationships. x
  • 15
    Disruptions in Close Relationships
    There are steps you can take to avoid conflict in a close relationship or manage and resolve conflict when it does inevitably occur. However, when a destabilizing event—such as a serious illness—creates what is known as a critical communications context, the special insights offered here become even more important. x
  • 16
    How Management Theories Affect Conflict
    Explore the impact of several accepted theories of management to understand why the biggest losses to organizations don't come from major conflicts at all. Instead, they come from the accumulation of small, day-to-day ones. x
  • 17
    The Manager's Role in Dealing with Conflict
    Even when managers aren't actively involved in managing a conflict, their everyday actions help determine the frequency and seriousness of the conflicts that occur. Learn the steps managers need to know to create the best atmosphere possible for successful conflict management. x
  • 18
    Getting Professional Help with Conflict
    Several decades of focus on conflict management have led to a wide array of professional specialties, each devoted to different aspects of conflict management. Become familiar with the different skills of mediators, arbitrators, ombudsmen, counselors, and informal organizational "priests"—as well as when to call on them. x
  • 19
    Helping Others Manage Conflict
    What should you do as a nonprofessional to help others resolve a conflict? And how can you best do so? This lecture offers suggestions on the best procedures to follow and the pitfalls you need to avoid. x
  • 20
    Moral and Cultural Conflicts
    Conflicts based on moral and cultural differences can seem the most intractable of all, beyond anyone's skills of resolution. Nevertheless, there are steps that can achieve positive and lasting progress. Grasp the essential principles of reframing the issues, fractionating them into resolvable pieces, and developing empathy and mutual trust between opposing sides. x
  • 21
    Managing Moral Conflicts—Success Stories
    See how the principles of the previous lecture are put into successful practice to resolve three notable conflicts long in the public eye. In particular, learn how they were used by President Jimmy Carter in the Camp David Accords and President Ronald Reagan in the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty talks. x
  • 22
    Managing Conflict's Aftermath
    Conflicts are rarely "over" when negotiations conclude, even when the results are successful. Gain insights into the concepts of acceptance, apology, amends, forgiveness, reconciliation, healing, and even the escalation that can follow in conflict's wake. x
  • 23
    Teaching Our Children about Conflict
    Some of the strongest advances in the study of conflict management have been in how to pass on what we have learned to the next generation. Examine the different ways children learn about conflict and what we are already doing to improve that process. x
  • 24
    Conflict Management—A Success in Progress
    Compare what you've learned in this course to what was known about conflict and its management in 1950, before research really began in earnest. Conclude the course with 10 key takeaway points, each of which can be applied in your own life right now. x

Lecture Titles

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Michael Dues
Michael Dues, Ph.D.
University of Arizona
Dr. Michael Dues is Senior Lecturer in Communication at The University of Arizona, where he also served as head of the Department of Communication. The holder of an M.A. in American History from the University of Louisville and a Ph.D. in Communication and American Studies from Indiana University, Professor Dues has spent 40 years not only as an award-winning teacher and respected scholar, but also as a successful organizational consultant, working with both public and private organizations on the human aspects of management. Honored for consistently excellent teaching by both The University of Arizona and California State University, Sacramento, Professor Dues has also written widely for academic and trade publications. His books include Boxing Plato's Shadow: An Introduction to the Study of Human Communication and The Practice of Organizational Communication, both coauthored with his spouse, Mary Brown; and The Pursuit of Probable Truth: A Primer on Argument. He also served seven years as an ombudsman for The University of Arizona. In his work on conflict, he draws not only on academic studies but also on his broad experience as an administrator, a consultant, and a practitioner.
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Reviews

Rated 4.3 out of 5 by 48 reviewers.
Rated 5 out of 5 by Nothing Changes If Nothing Changes WOW! I really like this course. I am slowly discovering the Professional courses and am very impressed by Michael Dues’ course in The Art of Conflict Management. Conflict is inevitable so it made sense to learn something about it. Watching this course was life-changing for me. I took a Conflict Management course through work and with TTC together. They both enhanced one another. The main advantage of the course from work is that they had many practical role-playing situations where one could experience these principles in action. The Teaching Company course was much more extensive in definitions, principles, examples, and had many acted-out situations. I felt the acted-out cases were one of the best tools in this course (first I’ve seen with TTC). The political examples near the end of the lectures were good at driving home some of the main points in the course. I wish I’ve taken Michaels Dues course a long time ago. Often, when he talked, I thought of situations that I could have handled better. I was even more amazed to learn that these problems take on patterns in the workplace (and home for that matter). I frequently see the problem more than the solution. A good example is triangulation (lecture 9) in the workplace. Now I can put a name to it and be more aware of them. Bill Cosby said, “Family is conflict and it’s something we all relate to.” A truly inspiring course if one is interested in the bigger picture! April 18, 2014
Rated 2 out of 5 by Helpful, But Not Fulfilling There is value here, but, for reasons I will discuss below, I can only give this course a fair rating. First, the positives. Dues is a smart, experienced fellow who has lived and taught conflict management for quite some time. He understands the topic deeply and offers many fine and worthwhile tips and suggestions during the course. In fact, if you're mostly after advice in sort of more a "how to" format, you're likely to be more satisfied with the course than I was. My fundamental problem, I believe, is that I come as a customer from the old school with the Teaching Company, as one who is looking for courses "from the greatest classrooms in the world." This simply is not such a course. The professor cites research frequently, but he rarely goes into much detail about the quality of the research, the science behind it, and the details of its findings. Rather, he typically attests to some broad conclusions to work he mentions, and the learner really has little foundation to assess the strength of the work he mentions or have confidence in basing learning on it. What makes one especially anxious about Dues' treatment of research is his carelessness in accounts of history and the degree to which he too extravagantly credits the new "science" of conflict management. Win-win notions of how to deal with problems with family, neighbors, and others were not invented by Morton Deutsch. There's a long history before the 1950s in philosophy, religion, ethics, and business from which we garner extraordinary wisdom relevant to dealing with these problems. And there was far more of value, including magnificent thought on understanding and solving problems, in Greek philosophy and thought. It wasn't just about the adversary system, as Dues implies. The foundation that is laid in the first three lectures is very shaky. I appreciate the simple narratives Dues establishes for the learner to get an elementary sense of conflicts and ultimately how they might be managed. But I would have far preferred, as one should get in a more advanced class, teaching about complex case studies that perhaps Dues has either taught or experienced as a consultant. His short and casual mentioning the arms control negotiations or the Egypt-Israel treaty from a distance was no substitute. So, instead of going directly to the heart of more advanced problems, we get simple basics and a very top level consideration of major stories in the news. For me, as a student wanting the equivalent of a very challenging college course, this was unsatisfactory. I must say finally that the professor's contrived conclusions of the story narratives he had created were sophomoric. The resolutions typically had more to do with the fact that gender fairness is happily more abundant today it was in the 50s. Further, the easy assumption that we're so much better at conflict management since Deutsch's "awakening" is again based on the good professor's hypothesis more than real research or evidence. I believe the course was made in 2010, so the deterioration in conflict management in our social and political institutions was well underway by then. Watching the current Congress and Administration in action, all the screaming and yelling on cable news, and the extremes and factions throughout our society that don't deal with each other, I think a more grounded, more sophisticated, and more responsive course would have actually been very timely and useful. I want to conclude, however, by saying again that customers of TGC who want an elementary course on this topic with guidance and counseling on basic matters of conflict, especially for conflicts with friends or family, might very well be happier with this course than I was and should consider buying it. March 8, 2015
Rated 5 out of 5 by Why Do You Want This Course? Are you a "people" person? Do you tend to get along with everybody? When dealing with opposing viewpoints, do you avoid conflict? Then this course isn't for you. But, if you're more like me, this course is a real education. This course helped me view conversations from the outside. That is, it helped me understand how people interact and has greatly improved my interpersonal skills. If you have trouble getting along with those you disagree with, this course can help. I know it helped me. I watched it twice. And I will probably watch it again periodically. Are the dramatizations a bit silly? Of course they are! They're not meant to be high drama and the actors aren't up for any awards. But the dramatizations have a point, and the point is usually well made. The professor couldn't have made these points by just talking about them. I only gave Dues 4 stars as presenter to differentiate him from some of the better presenters. I felt he did a good job. I found the Effective Communication Skills course to be a great companion to this course. January 29, 2015
Rated 5 out of 5 by Mandatory As I listened it occurred to me how much further ahead in life I'd be, how much pain could have been spared if I'd learned these concepts in public school. Conflict is at the heart of life and the way I coped with it was learned before I could speak. What a shock I had at my own ignorance listening to this. Truly life changing for those who want change - this will give you many tools and likely change the way you see your life. The sound quality of this CD is the best I have heard yet and the speakers voice is clear and consistently engaging. January 28, 2015
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