The Art of Conflict Management by Professor Michael Dues

I recently finished listening to  (at least first pass done, maybe revisit it later – most of Great Courses titles worth revisiting/more than one listen) of 24 lectures series from The Great Courses on conflict management – “The Art of Conflict Management: Achieving Solutions for Life, Work, and Beyond” by Professor Michael Dues from University of Arizona.The Art of Conflict Management

This course uses dramatizations to illustrate conflict situations and ways of handling them, and tries to emphasize practical side (some assignments suggested in the end of each lecture) which is as usual by far more difficult than any theory.

My takeaways from this course is number of interesting models and shortcuts to think about conflicts (triangulation, defunct conflict strategies etc.), then science and history behind widespread buzz-word “win-win”. It was interesting to know ideas behind the word which is being thrown around sometimes mindlessly nowadays. We can trace back almost any concept or technology to the initial (in hindsight sometimes plain and simple) idea or scientific paper. For Kerberos technology it was project Athena, based in turn on a paper published in 1978 by Needham and Schroeder (Needham–Schroeder protocol), for win-win idea it was 1948 Morton Deutsch’s PhD paper about win-win solutions. Basically he distinguished 2 types of conflicts: competitive conflict, a situation that requires one party to lose in order for the other to win, and pure conflict, a situation in which both parties can fully win. This is important distinction and gives you different point of view on possibilities for conflict resolutions, in addition to point of view which is formed by long standing idea of  adversary system which comes from Ancient Greece.

There also was a nice overview lecture on overarching managerial theories – really good summary on each and overview of transition from one to another. I also liked  the story mentioned at some point there on etymology of the word bureaucracy (which is French in origin, and combines the French word bureau – desk or office – with the Greek word κράτος kratos – rule or political power).

Next I going to start listening to my first audio book in French which is surprisingly enough “Le journal d’un fou” by Nicolas Gogol 🙂 And I also got another title from The Great Courses – “Building a Better Vocabulary” by Professor Kevin Flanigan.

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