"Conflict Communications" by Rory Miller. A Review
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Louis L’Amour’s fictional character, Chick Bowdrie, walked a thin line. He could have easily fallen in with the outlaws, and nearly did so, but was grabbed in the nick of time by the Texas Rangers. And so throughout the short stories and novels, Bowdrie’s ability to think within the mind of the bad guys made him a brilliantly competent and successful Texas Ranger. This capacity to think from within the predator’s mind runs throughout Rory Miller’s works, which is what makes them highly beneficial. Miller, a veteran Law Enforcement Officer and corrections sergeant, has pulled together another fine resource in his 168 page paperback, “Conflict Communication: A New Paradigm in Conscious Communication.” This is a book about communicating in tense and tight situations, whether at work, in in the home, at the pub, or on the street. It is written for Law Enforcement Officers, employees, supervisors, and men and women in all walks of life.
“Conflict Communication” is the meat-and-potatoes material from the author’s communications course. It presents the reader with a workable model for navigating communicative landmines, roadblocks, and traps. Miller follows an evolutionary pattern of how the brain functions and human consciousness operates. The most primal is what he calls the lizard. This is the hindbrain where the most primitive survival instincts lodge. The more developed is what he denominates the monkey brain. That part of our consciousness, the limbic system, which swims in the emotional stream and is concerned with status, social behavior and keeping the tribe alive. The most developed is the human brain, the neocortex, the youngest and newest member of the brain family. It is slower, yet gathers evidence, thinks, and weighs the options, as well as cause and effect. It is from this three part paradigm that Miller works out how to, and how not to, communicate in the midst of conflict.
The author takes the reader through assorted communication dynamics where conflict, abuse, or aggression happen, and shows various ways to turn the tide. He explains and demonstrates the scripts we often fall into, their benefits and hazards, and how to break out of them when they’re not helpful. What hooks are, how to see them coming and not to get snagged. Different approaches to take in organizations when dealing with higher-ups, as well as untouchables. How to engage in active listening, use tactical apologies, build rapport, establish boundaries, and set up common ground. The book is clearly a “how-to” manual.
“Conflict Communication” is an easy-to-read volume, broken down into three sections, which are broken down further into shorter, bite-sized chunks. The author has made the material accessible and broadly applicable. As Miller puts it, everything “in this book is a tool. It can show you ways to understand how communications go wrong and how conflicts arise. It might even give you the understanding you need to make some profound changes” (130). It’s a book worth getting and investing your time reading.
My thanks to YMAA Publication Center for the complimentary copy of the book used for this review.
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