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Speed Leas' book on conflict management is used in many settings, but is perhaps best known in seminary and church contexts. It is used at my seminary as part of the basic ministry class, to enable students to learn about their own conflict management styles directly before assuming a role in churches or classrooms where they will have to be the ones managing other conflicts (which may or may not involve them directly).
There is a 45-question inventory of couplet questions that the reader is asked to complete prior to reading the short, 40-page text. (From a design standpoint, one might ask why this is in the back of the book, rather than the first thing presented.) This will give clues based on the six styles of conflict management where the reader falls within the categories. It is not a rigid classification system -- my own completion showed an equal high score in three of the six categories, and a tie for second place for two others.
The six categories are Persuasion, Compulsion, Avoidance/Accommodation, Collaboration, Negotiation, and Support. Most people will recognise that their own conflict management styles are a combination of these types, which get defined carefully and described in some detail despite the low number of pages in the text. Most people will however tend toward a few types of conflict management -- Leas gives clues as to how one can improve, both within and outside of the category. Leas shows the benefits of each style and the drawbacks of each style.
Effective use of this tool requires honesty on the part of the reader. One can decide to be a collaborator or a supporter, but one should honestly answer the questions and recognise the starting point. One person I know who took the test answered as he believed the seminary class wanted him to answer, and chose which group he thought would be best to join. This, of course, belies the intention of this teaching tool, but the incident did demonstrate clearly his real categorisation (that of compulsion).
As is pointed out in the text, the best time to use this tool for learning about conflict management is not in the midst of a conflict, but rather before such conflicts happen. Learning from this text, the reader will learn to manage people's conflicts more wisely, first by understanding one's own style, but also from gaining insights into the behaviours of others. Leading all to a more satisfactory conclusion is a desirable outcome in any organisation, secular or ecclesiastical.
Speed Leas is an educator and consultant experienced over many decades of teaching and working with church and other organisations. Sponsored in this project by the Alban Institute, Leas has produced an ideal tool for use with leadership groups, church groups, academic groups, boards, and any other group or community (which is, in fact, all of them) where people might disagree and where conflict might arise. It is short (which is good for those with busy schedules, who find it difficult to find the time for reading), it is to-the-point and direct in its language (not bogging down in theory or speculation too much), and it is practical.
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on February 22, 2000
This tool breaks conflict managment into six styles. It contains an instrument (a self test) to help one determine what is one's dominate style. It also contains detailed descriptions of each style of conflict managment, situations in which each style is strong, and situations in which each style should not be used. A wonderful tool to use in management groups which have difficulty with latent conflict; it may help participants to determine what behaviors are maintaining the conflict.
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on February 14, 2002
Often read as a companion to Moving Your Church Through Conflict, this book gives a more thorough description of six styles of approaching conflict: persuading, compelling, avoiding/accommodating, collaborating, negotiating, and supporting. Each of them is defined, with suggestions as to how and when to use them, and the probable outcomes one can expect. A self-scoring inventory is included. This is a brief book (only 44 pages), but what it lacks in size it makes up for in practicality. No church leader should be without this resource.
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on July 15, 2014
I learned a lot in a short time. Brief but clear summary of six processes for conflict. The author says that he (or she?) conflated a few into one to keep the list short, so there are really more than six. I'm not a beginner in life, but it's always an eye opener to find labels for things you are already doing or see others doing, and then with awareness there is more freedom to choose. There is also less fear and confusion when you see clearly what other people are doing in a conflict. I think it can make conflict less painful because it might be possible to get both sides to agree to a process when they both understand what they are doing. In addition to identifying the six processes, the author explains the strengths and weaknesses of each one, and when each one might be the best process. The author is obviously very well informed and mentions a number of experts and studies.

I think another benefit is that we often choose a process (unconsciously), but then change in midstream to get what we want, and this leads to a sense of betrayal. If we can avoid that mistake, and make the process clear, then there is more acceptance and less betrayal and loss of trust in the future.
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on April 15, 2014
There are many, many personality tools on the market. This short easy one is one of them. It's good and provides some explanation so that someone can take it and understand without having to be in a seminar.
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on April 3, 2013
i am reading this book for a lay ministry school class. i have never thought about this topic so it was a real eye opener. if we humans are going to argue it is best if we understand the options for how to argue. also it good to understand how to deal with argumentative people. there are some methods that will get you where you want to go and some that are pointless in dealing with some people. like using compelling when collaboration would work better in the long run. recognizing that there are options each time you are managing conflict.through trial and error you can learn to get better at dealing with conflict.
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on December 8, 2012
This is a handy little book. As others have commented, it is not a comprehensive book on conflict management. But knowing your strength styles, and recognizing the validity of others' styles, is very helpful.
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on February 20, 2012
This is an excellent book, and it has revealed much in my own life, as it pertains to conflict management. It is simple, straight-forward, and easy to apply. It has definitely added tools to my people skills' belt.
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on March 31, 2013
This short read contains an inventory of your conflict management style which is to be completed prior to reading the book. Although the inventory is not meant to be scientifically significant, it does provide some insights into the most likely method of managing conflict in specific situations.
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on November 20, 2015
This is a great little book. It has been very helpful to me in better understanding all the options I have for dealing with conflict in the different areas of my life.
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