Books for Managing and Resolving Conflict at Work

A friend asks, “Hi Tom. What are your top favorite books or articles on conflict resolution at work?”

As a leader, it’s your job to ensure conflict at work is constructive, not destructive.

Conflict at work is good, when it’s conflict about the work. When ideas clash, they improve.

Conflict at work is bad, when it’s conflict between people in the drama triangle. When people clash in the drama triangle, work does not improve and relationships get harmed — making it harder to work together well.

From most tactical to most strategic, I recommend these books (each with its own key lesson):

  1. Conflict Competent Leader by Flanagan and Runde (provides a model of destructive vs constructive conflict, and a vital shared language for discussing conflicts)
  2. Crucial Conversations by VitalSmarts (provides step-by-step guidance for how to face and have tough conversations while maintaining relationships)
  3. The 2R Manager by Pete Friedes (coaching on the mindset needed to both maintain Relationships while still Requiring excellence from subordinates)
  4. Language of Emotions by Karla McLaren (best book in the world to help you understand all your emotions and gives you tools to manage them well and effectively)
  5. Intimacy & Desire by David Schnarch (gives you tools and a framework for managing and transcending conflict in an intimate relationship; much of this generalizes to work)
  6. Road Less Traveled by M Scott Peck (gives both a model and a rationale for how to find the internal strength to face conflict well, with a spirit of love of self and others)


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