Bring together a few people in a defined setting and sooner or later you have conflict. It doesn't matter if it's an old-age or new-age workplace. Any workplace will have at least a few people, some making judgments about the performance of others, some giving others instruction or direction. There will be conflicts, sometimes of a nature that have to change people's relationships. Finding as positive as possible solutions to conflict is the subject of Getting to Resolution, by mediator and attorney Stewart Levine. If more people followed Levine's advice, the world would be a better place. There would be less litigation and, more importantly, less lingering bitterness in the aftermath of conflict.

Levine's step-by-step approach to resolution often involves a mediator, but at its heart it requires the people involved to face each other and to air their grievances. There has to be an authentic desire to reach a resolution that can be accepted by both sides. This is not easy. Because of that difficulty, people usually hide behind professionals, usually lawyers, to be their advocates, and they turn to others, usually courts, to resolve their disputes. The author takes a basically optimistic view of people, "Taking care of others is natural for human beings." Such optimism is necessary in order to get people to confront problems with others head-on and come out with two winners, or at least two people who feel they received a fair shake and are ready to move on with their lives.

As a mediator, Levine brings a useful sense of perspective to the disputes he helps resolve. People in the heat of a dispute often think nothing is more important than their problem. He writes, "Often the essential part of resolution is reframing the perceived problem into something else. Asking people to look back from their Ôdeathbed' is a good way to get into the discussion." Though at times repetitive, Levine makes a solid case for a preferable path toward resolving problems. The methods can be applied to dissolving a business partnership or a marriage.

Reviewed by Neal Lipschutz.

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