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Conflict is a common aspect of life that is extremely difficult to avoid because each person is different from others and arrives at his or her own conclusions about the behavior of others and the events in a situation. Although conflicts may seem unavoidable, one can actually learn how to work through them and come out with a better relationship in the end. In “Conflict—The Unexpected Gift: Making the Most of Disputes in Life and Work” (published by iUniverse) authors Jack Hamilton, Elisabeth Seaman, Sharlene Gee, and Hillary Freeman present a highly detailed and comprehensive approach to resolving interpersonal conflicts.

The book addresses a wide audience, from teens to elders, on a broad range of interpersonal issues. It gives clear and detailed examples of actual situations and steps to take for resolving differences, disagreements and even seemingly intractable disputes. These practical steps can be learned in order to transform problem

The authors focus on teaching readers how to use techniques that have been proven to be effective in resolving conflicts. These include listening for understanding, clarifying assumptions they have made about others and working toward mutual agreement on ways they can communicate more constructively in the future. The main tool in the book is the “Ladder of Assumptions,” which is a metaphor for how our minds work in situations that often lead to conflict. Our minds unconsciously move up the rungs of such a ladder, making unwarranted assumptions about someone’s words, motives or stereotypical behavior that is viewed as representative of people in a group to which they seem to belong.

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Through activities at the end of each chapter of the book, readers can learn how their minds work and practice how to step down their mental ladders, clarify their assumptions and those of the other person, and reach mutual understanding and agreement. When resolved, a conflict can be an unexpected gift of a second chance and an opportunity to change.

“Conflict—The Unexpected Gift” will surely help readers repair their strained or broken relationships as well as develop more constructive channels of communication in their ongoing interactions. In detailed steps, the book shows that by working through one’s conflicts, one learns to let go of unfounded assumptions and pave new chapters in one’s relationships.


“Conflict—The Unexpected Gift” will help you develop skills to resolve interpersonal conflicts. Each chapter offers concrete steps and real-life vignettes that teach new ways of communicating. Whether you are a teen, a senior or anywhere in between, you can learn how to resolve conflicts and build more viable relationships with family members, friends, coworkers, acquaintances, and other people with whom you interact. A pearl starts as an irritation in an oyster. Similarly, a new openness in your relationships can be an outcome of conflict. In the course of working through your conflict, you learn to let go of unfounded assumptions and pave new, positive chapters in your relationships. When reconciled, a conflict can be the unexpected gift of a second chance.

By Jack Hamilton and Elisabeth Seaman