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Faculty Publish New Book On Conflict Management

Faculty Publish New Book On Conflict Management
July 7, 2016 SEHD Communications
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Faculty Publish New Book On Conflict Management


A group of Texas A&M faculty have published a book on strategic conflict engagement titled Conflict Management and Dialogue in Higher Education. The book, written by Drs. Nancy Watson, Karan Watson, and Christine Stanley, focuses on different strategies and tools to assess and engage effectively in conflict within the higher education work place.

“Conflict is an inevitability in any workplace. Any healthy, thriving organization has conflict,” said Clinical Associate Professor Dr. Nancy Watson. “However, conflict in and of itself is typically neutral and what I find powerful, is that we can transform lives just by having effective communication through engagement in meaningful conflicts.”

Much of the book was based off of data collected over the course of two years and over twenty years working in the areas of conflict and diversity, according to Dr. Watson. During this time, the three writers observed other faculty, staff, students, and administrators in their perspective classroom and workplace roles.

The book also identifies different conflict intervention strategies. Each conflict intervention strategies is thoroughly discussed and identified — coinciding with each writer’s research.

“I think the majority of us view conflict as a negative,” Dr. Watson said. “If we are able to observe the benefits for both parties to engage, instead of avoiding conflicts, it can really work in helping the situation.”

The conflict intervention strategy of mediation is another essential topic in the book. Dr. Watson said the way people deal with conflict is a learned behavior. She emphasized the importance of having constructive conflict management skills and how it can help manage work and other life events.

“I’ve seen people that have real challenging personalities who hone their conflict skills and implement strong conflict management skills successfully,” she said. “I want students, faculty, staff, and administrators who read this book to take away that conflict management begins with them. We are not powerless when conflicts arise. Conflicts are not so scary to engage in when we add to our skill set.”

Dr. Watson currently works part-time as the Director for Climate Enhancement Initiatives for Vice President and Associate Provost Dr. Christine Stanley. Under Provost Karan Watson and Dr. Stanley’s direction, their team created the Texas A&M Diversity Plan aimed at cultivating and sustaining inclusive practices that promote a well-rounded workplace. They authors state that understanding others is a key aspect to building trust and resolving conflict.

“Engaging in management of conflict cannot happen if there is not some level of trust present,” Dr. Watson said. “When we look at diversity, we see different perspectives through others.”

Dr. Watson believes that book can be used as a tool to build relationships and encourage dialogue in all settings.

“We all have a role to play. Effective conflict management starts with the individual,” she said. “I think there is value added to individuals lives and workplace environment by supporting people to hone, refine, and build their conflict management skills.”

Written by Justin Ikpo (sehdcomm@tamu.edu)


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