May 21, 2021

Book Notes: Free Yourself From Conflict

A new book by David B. Pauker offers a three-part strategy for managing conflict informed by his work as an Ombuds, crisis manager, and mediator. He illustrates concepts through stories of conflict in a range of settings (from scripture to Hollywood) and supports his advice with psychology and science. 

Pauker's focus is on the three things the individual can control and the bood is organizes into three steps: 1. Grow Your Self Awareness; 2. Control the Story; and 3. Go Beyond in-Win. The book also includes several exercises that Ombuds will find very useful for trainings and group work. 

Here's an excerpt (© 2021 David B. Pauker Trust):
Every conflict is a story. “Story is not simply the content of what we think – it is the how of how we think,” according to Richard Maxwell and Robert Dickman in their brilliant book, The Elements of Persuasion.

That “how” is captured in their definition of “story.” This definition goes deeper than mere description and is therefore more useful. It sets out discrete progressive steps that reveal the spine of a story, its motivations, and the source of energy that is driving it forward. This paradigm also reveals why conflict has a story structure; it is a fundamental roadmap for understanding conflict, how it develops and grows:
A story is a fact,
wrapped in an emotion
that compels us to take an action
that transforms our world.
Like its story, a conflict starts with a Fact (an event, real or imagined) that triggers an Emotion; that leads to an Action; and the Consequences transform the world for everyone involved. Conflict can be seen as a story (drama or comedy) in three acts. Act I, the fact and the emotion; Act II, the action; and Act III the consequences. There is even suspense at the ends of all three acts – for Act I, where the emotion will lead; for Act II, what will be the results of the action; and for Act III, where will the impact of the consequences take each one involved. That suspense provides energy to propel the story forward, and the need to resolve the Act III suspense drives the conflict and its story through another cycle of story or to resolution.

For most conflicts, events probably don’t stop with one story cycle, and every new cycle of the conflict becomes a story within a larger story as the conflict renews and the drama evolves. Even conflicts that are completely internal, within one person’s own psyche, can be filled with emotions, actions, and consequences that cause the conflict to spin out of control and keep cycling. Usually, it is the overarching big picture story that people think about and tell, but for analyzing and better understanding what is going on in a conflict, it can be useful to think of a conflict in discrete units as groups of substories or individual story cycles….
The book is available from a variety of sources. (; Amazon.)

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