Reading not only expands your knowledge but can also stimulate the imagination, foster empathy, reduce stress and improve communication skills – all great benefits for anyone engaging in conflict conversations. What books are you planning to read this year and why? Here are some books our team has on their 2018 reading list…


The Conflict Paradox: Seven Dilemmas at the Core of Disputes by Bernard Mayer. This book reframes seven common dilemmas in conflict resolution from “either/or” to “both/and”. I am reading this book to deepen my understanding of how to recognize what is happening for parties in mediation. It also seems to be a good follow-on to Bernie’s earlier books – The Dynamics of Conflict and Beyond Neutrality – that encourage conflict engagement.

Bridging Troubled Waters: Conflict Resolution From the Heart by Michelle LeBaron. Having first read this book when it was published in 2002, I realize now more than I did then, the need for more nuanced approaches to conflict resolution. This book appeals to the intuitive and versatile side of my problem-solving brain.

Designing Your Life by Bill Burnette and Dave Evans. This book has a following among innovators. It’s language and model may be helpful for understanding some of my coaching clients better and provide me with tools that will appeal to them.


The Conflict Paradox: Seven Dilemmas at the Core of Disputes by Bernard Mayer. Mayer is a pioneer in the field of conflict resolution. My copy of his earlier book, The Dynamics of Conflict, has post-it notes sticking out of it, and yellow highlights throughout. I learn something new every time I reread it. Our President, Dianne Lipsey, recently recommended The Conflict Paradox. It was already on my reading list, but with Dianne’s recommendation, has been moved up the list.

Power: A User’s Guide by Julie Diamond. A friend forwarded a Youtube video of Diamond discussing power and I was immediately interested. I’ve read other books on the topic, such as The 48 Laws of Power, that present strategies to manipulate others and gain power by taking down the people around you. Diamond speaks about increasing personal power in a way that could empower the people around you. That is much more aligned with my overall philosophy on life, and I look forward to a deeper dive into the topic.

Cultures & Organizations: Software of the Mind by Geert Hofstede, Gert Jan Hofstede, and Michael Minkov. Although, I have read a long list of books about organizational culture, I have never tackled this book from beginning to end. Geert Hofstede has informed my work as a consultant for years, and I am excited to discover how much I have yet to learn from him.


Healing the Heart of Conflict: Eight Crucial Steps to Making Peace with Yourself and With Others by Marc Gopin. My instinctive approach to conflict is informed by analytical thinking and problem-solving – it’s just the way my brain works – but conflict is not always logical and data often doesn’t address emotions, perceived intentions, and trust. We are all capable of learning new behaviors to expand beyond our natural tendencies. In that spirit, I’m looking forward to reading Dr. Gopin’s approach to dealing with emotions in conflict, especially his emphasis on self-awareness as I firmly believe that our own response is the only response we can control.

Salt Houses by Hala Alyan. A novel about the displacement of a Palestinian family in the wake of war. The story is told from the perspectives of multiple family members as they deal with the cost of war, the loss of “home” and the rebuilding of lives in other locations. Sometimes the path through conflict is the ability to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes and imagine situations beyond your own experience. I find that novels are an engaging way to practice this skill.

When Millennials Take Over: Preparing for the Ridiculously Optimistic Future of Business by Jamie Notter and Maddie Grant. Jamie and I both graduated from the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University, though at different times, which is how I first learned of his work. Jamie and Maddie have a great perspective on organization culture in the social era and the generational issues that can arise. This book has been on my reading list since I read their previous collaboration entitled Humanize.


The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. This book has been on my list for years after listening to the author on Oprah. Ruiz discusses the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of our daily joy. Through the four agreements detailed in the book, you learn to replace your old toxic ways of thinking with the 4 agreements which help you experience a new type of freedom, true happiness and love.

The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy. All of our experiences, events, conditions and acts are the reactions of our subconscious mind from our thoughts. These are the inner assumptions that govern and guide our lives. According to Dr. Murphy, when we begin to control our thought process, we can apply the powers of our subconscious to any problem or difficulty. I look forward to delving deeper to apply this in my everyday life.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Set in Baltimore and written as a letter to the author’s teenage son about the feelings, symbolism, and realities associated with being black in the United States. A timely book that was recommended by a friend.