Turning Conflict into Profit: A Roadmap for Resolving personal and Organizational Disputes


294 pages
Contains Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-88864-440-X
DDC 303.6'9




Reviewed by Louise Karch

Louise Karch is a career consultant with Carswell Partners in London, Ontario.


Social psychologist Larry Axelrod and mediator/therapist/trainer Rowland
Johnson have written a guide to understanding and resolving conflict.

The first section provides an explanation of the foundations and
fallacies of conflict. It draws on social and psychological research to
help the reader understand the complex roots of conflict behaviour and
the reasons people and organizations inevitably respond with denial,
despair, and detachment. This response pattern is known as the
“conflict trap.” The authors explain its cost and the clinical
psychological and cognitive behaviours that perpetuate conflict, the
“seven deadly defences” that people consciously or unconsciously use
to resist resolution, and the amplification effect of cross-cultural

The second section suggests a path to transition from conflict to
resolution. Such a process, the authors argue, requires moving from
assumption to inquiry, and from judgment to curiosity. The discussion in
this section is mostly metaphorical; no case histories or research are
used to illustrate this aspect of the model.

In the final section, the authors present a five-step process for
helping individuals gain “insight” into the nature of conflict and
“inspiration” to feel that resolution is possible, which then
generates the energy and “investment” needed to resolve the
conflict. The authors provide techniques to help readers “lean into”
the conflict as opposed to charging or avoiding. Case studies from the
health-care, corporate, and community sectors are provided as teaching
tools for each step, along with chapter summaries. Specific techniques
include the “one-minute effort,” which involves people spending 60
seconds each day speaking with different staff they normally would not
communicate with in order to gain organizational perspective and improve
morale during conflict.

This interesting and thought-provoking book would be strengthened by
making case studies more robust and by using less metaphorical language
and more empirical proof of their model’s success in the workplace.


Axelrod, Larry, and Rowland (Roy) Johnson., “Turning Conflict into Profit: A Roadmap for Resolving personal and Organizational Disputes,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/17102.