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<xTITLE>The Dynamics of Conflict Resolution: A Practitioner's Guide</xTITLE>

The Dynamics of Conflict Resolution: A Practitioner's Guide

by Robert Kirkman Collins
July 2000

Reviewd by:
The Aternative Newsletter Editor, Robert Kirkman Collins
Published by: Jossey-Bass, San Francisco 2000
(Hardcover, 263 pp.) ISBN 0-7879-5019-X

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Conflict Resolution

Hallelujah! Bernie Mayer has provided us all with a rational, insightful, and articulate perspective on dispute resolution.

Mayer's volume explores the nature of conflict from several theoretical perspectives, and then proceeds to deal specifically with issues of impasse, advocacy, communication, and mediation. Throughout, The Dynamics of Conflict Resolution provides a solid synthesis of the theoretical and the pragmatic; as Mayer observes: "I believe that our most creative moments as practical theorists come when we attempt to integrate the explanations of conflict and conflict resolution to which we are attracted with observations about what we actually do in real-life situations."

Mayer manages to synthesize other dichotomies as well. He acknowledges the emotional level at which certain conflicts function without advocating abdication of a neutral's responsibility to help forge a resolution of the dispute; he warns that "the art of conflict resolution is the discovery of the level at which a conflict really operates, and the challenge is to find a way to work at that level. We can err by going too deep or staying too shallow". The book has a strong and distinct voice, yet remains refreshing in its avoidance of the doctrinaire, and offers the delightfully modest disclaimer: "I do not put these ideas forward as the right conceptual framework, but rather as ways that I have found to be useful and poignant."

Straightforward, well-crafted, and sprinkled with examples from practice that instruct (rather than simply illustrate flattering professional moments in the author's life), Mayer's book will prove useful to both the theoretically inclined and to the novice practitioner, as well as to the reflective professional open to pondering about the essence of conflict and creative approaches to its resolution.


Robert Kirkman Collins, J.D., has been cited by Cardozo Law School as being “among the pioneers of divorce mediation”. A co-founder of The New York Mediation Group, Bob is an attorney with an independent practice in divorce mediation and matrimonial law in Manhattan, with over twenty years of experience as a practicing mediator. He is the author of a training text for divorce mediation, and has trained professionals throughout the United States and in Great Britain. Bob currently teaches divorce mediation as an Adjunct Professor at Cardozo Law School, and has taught mediation at the Northwest Institute for Dispute Resolution and at Hofstra Law School.

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