6 Must-Read Conflict Resolution Books

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5No matter how much I anticipate or prepare for conflict, I find it difficult to maintain a calm composure. I perform worse than normal simply because I am feeding off my clients’ emotions and don’t want to disappoint them. A raised voice or an accusatory tone often are enough to get me out of my comfort zone. I finally recognized this as an issue and bought some books to get a better understanding of myself, and what I might try to overcome or at least improve on managing conflict. To keep things concise, I’ll mention one standout I learned from each book. 

Never Split the Difference
Negotiating as if your life depended on it: The title of this book is a hyperbole and my initial impression was that it was promoting some kind of “get rich” scheme. I’m happy to say this is not the case, the author is a former hostage negotiator so the premise of the book is taking negotiations from a literal life or death stage, and showing the practical side of technique you can use in everyday life. My favourite lesson from this book is in every negotiation there is always a “Black Swan”, an element that will totally change the outcome of the conversation. For example, the book describes a real estate transaction worth millions of dollars and the seller’s agent mistakenly revealed that the property owner didn’t want to sell the building because it was their golden goose, but they need money quickly to make up losses in other investments. This information revealed a lot, namely that the property in question was highly profitable, AND the seller wanted a fast turnover. Thus, the buyer was able to purchase the property for under the asking price knowing the seller’s priority was getting money quickly and didn’t have time to wait for the right offer. Always be on the lookout for a game-changing black swan!

Atomic Habits
What is an atomic habit? A concept that by performing 1% better at something each day will eventually create greatness. We achieve great results by entering a state of deep focus called “the zone”. Being in the zone means we are working productively free from distractions and highly motivated. You can help yourself get to this productive state quicker by ritualizing habits that are beneficial for you. If a goal is to exercise more frequently, start by changing into your gym clothes. You’ll find that the productivity will follow by just taking that first baby step. 

How to Stop People Pleasing
The next two books really started to hit home for me. I have come to terms that I am a people pleaser, and this is in fact, a bad thing. The book goes into why we feel the need to make people happy, and ultimately pleasing people comes down to delaying a problem to avoid conflict. Thus, the book speaks on the value of directness and that it is not your job to make sure everyone is happy. People pleasing can bleed into relationships too. For example, a friend is asking a favour of you that you can’t accommodate, and you would rather do the task in resentment than to decline. Over time this is damaging for everyone involved. The key is to look after yourself first, so you can best serve others.6

The Art of Saying No
Very similar to the previous book is the Art of Saying No. This book addresses the problem many face where you say yes to the accumulation of many tasks that “will only take a few minutes” that consume your most productive working hours on things you shouldn’t have agreed to in the first place. One neat technique I learned was trying to reframe your no. For example, if you are being asked to take on a task that “will only take a few minutes” state that as a rule, you don’t do that anymore. Saying the word “don’t” instead of “can’t” makes it sounds predetermined and there is no amount of convincing that would change your mind. For example: If a friend is inviting you to go skiing and you don’t want to go, just simply say that you don’t ski anymore instead. It’s direct and final whereas can’t comes off as an excuse.

How to Win Friends and Influence People
So, after just reading The Art of Saying no and How to Stop People Pleasing this book felt like the advice from a polar opposite perspective. Written in 1936 this advice is not written for the world of instant emailing and 24/7 voicemail monitoring. However, this book is filled with many neat personal anecdotes where over-delivering certainly had its place. If someone is confronting you, do not get defensive and provide input when they ask for it. They do not want to be told that they are wrong, and you can slowly direct them to understanding with practised patience and empathy. 

Can’t Hurt Me
As a change of pace, this book is an inspirational biography. David Goggins grew up in horrible circumstances. He tells a remarkable story of surviving poverty, an abusive parent, racism, and various traumatic events and finds strength in pain both mentally and physically. The premise is that we hold ourselves back due to fear, and by learning to “love” conflict, we become stronger. I liked this book because it offered a much different view on mental toughness. Although I don’t personally relate to some of the more alpha lines of thinking, it is incredibly motivating listening to the author not letting major obstacles hold him back, and in fact he finds ways to be empowered. I especially enjoyed the idea that when things are at their worst and you feel down and out, finding a second wind is when you truly emerge to your potential. For example, the author participated in many rigorous military training programs and despite not being the strongest recruit, he was able to perform at the highest level by convincing himself he was capable.

Book List:
  • Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It – Chris Voss
  • Can't Hurt Me – David Goggins
  • The Art Of Saying No: How To Stand Your Ground, Reclaim Your Time And Energy, And Refuse To Be Taken For Granted (Without Feeling Guilty!) – Damon Zahariades
  • Stop People Pleasing: Be Assertive, Stop Caring What Others Think, Beat Your Guilt, & Stop Being a Pushover – Patrick King
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie
  • Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones – James Clear

David Finoro


David Finoro, B.A., O.L.C.M.
Condominium Manager, MF Property Management LTD.
MF Property Management Ltd. – Condominium Property Management

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