"There is no more critical a situation in which to use creative, lighthearted communication than in the management of conflict."
Fleming has been a professional mediator and the executive director for Iowa Mediation Services since 2015. In her role, she serves individuals, families, and farm organizations, consulting with the public to achieve dispute management goals. Mediation is as much an art as a science, and this book is aimed at a niche readership already trained in mediation or aspiring to train as mediators. The fundamentals of the subject aren’t included but much can be surmised from the narrative even though it’s specifically focused on developing the imagery and script of conflict resolution. To convey the premises of conflict management, mediators develop personal “stories” that help create a shared understanding with students and parties involved in mediation, making it a reciprocal process.
Because it is human nature to communicate through metaphor and imagery, the volume’s eighteen chapters are dedicated to ensuring that the mediators understand their own personalities and internal imagery and how to convey these ideas. “When we identify the unique imagery and illustrations that inform our beliefs about conflict, we become more aware of the ways in which we deal with it,” Fleming writes. As the narrative evolves through the many details of developing and communicating one’s conflict imagery and script to students or parties in mediation, the author offers valuable teaching tools in the form of “Imagery Touchpoints”—questions to aid the process—and “Imagery Snapshots”— statements that clarify the premise of each chapter. Fleming’s engaging prose is articulate, as one would expect of a professional mediator, but is also accessible to beginning students or casual readers. The author appeals to readers early on with her intent to “[infuse] levity and personal experience with professional research along the way.”
RECOMMENDED by the US Review
- U.S. Review of Books––Recommended - Review by Kate Robinson
Conflict Imagery: Developing a Reflective Framework is recommended for business, psychology, and economics readers interested in advancing their knowledge of communication in the workplace and at home.
It presents a different form of conflict management based on a professional approach that embraces concepts that seem to belay the author's own experience ("Surely an author who has weathered a difficult divorce could be no card-carrying expert on successful conflict resolution."). In fact, it embraces them to build a higher-level approach to the subject: "The best gifts from this season of my life were the realizations that people have a deep capacity for growth, that meaningful change and learning can occur in any situation, and that resilience is a huge part of the human condition."
There's a reason why physical manifestations of emotional connections remain such a draw, whether they be in museums, in creative interpretations of life, or in the workplace and at home: "...tangible objects create imagery for the past."
With this in mind, Kiley Fleming proceeds down a path that draws important connections between visualization, imagery, and greater understanding, creating the foundations that support an exploration of all these facets: "Jesus clearly understood the fundamental teaching principle of making sure the learner had mental depictions to connect the unseen with the seen. If you can visualize it, you will probably understand it in a more meaningful and enduring way."
The challenge lies in how to apply these principles to business and personal interactions. In this endeavor, Fleming shines.
As her book explores human nature, connecting this to physical images, readers gain a different perspective on purpose, function, values, and needs in life that apply across the board to working with and better understanding different personality types.
Readers won't expect the discussion to embrace architectural concepts, ratios, or the influence of triggers in imagery development and application. But, Fleming's ability to dance between psychological and life issues while applying the framework of her analysis leads fellow dancers in steps that require some effort, but pay off with the rich rewards of deeper understanding.
As Fleming revamps the purposes and goals of others, lacing them into her framework for conflict resolution, clear examples of how this process works are presented from her own life: "In both succession planning and conflict management, the parties know their desired direction. This isn’t the issue. The issue is charting a path that creates momentum to achieve results."
The result is a study that will reach psychology and self-help readers, but moves neatly beyond these audiences to integrate itself into workplace and daily life functions.
Libraries interested in works that promise bigger-picture thinking and which create a clear framework with proven paths to success will find Conflict Imagery a development guide with the power to reach from lay reader to HR leaders and others from all walks of life.
- Midwest Book Reviews––Recommended - Diane C. Donovan, Senior Reviewer
This book draws attention to the importance of how conflict stories and perspectives are created. Anyone looking to have a better understanding of their own internal conflict or group conflict can benefit from the easy reading highlights, exercises, and visual aids incorporated throughout.
- Missy Greathouse, J.D. - Executive Director of the Dispute Resolution Institute
Kiley's engaging personality comes through in this book based on her conflict management research. It is both personal and practical, grounded in research and organized for understanding. You might think this book is just for mediators. You would be wrong. Exploring our own conflict script or images through mindful reflection will help us in every interaction we have - even with, or especially with our internal conflicts we negotiate daily."
- Joy Kirkpatrick–Farm Succession Outreach Specialist for the University of Wisconsin – Madison Division of Extension
Kiley Fleming has taken a challenging topic - conflict - and presented it in a fresh way. If you are wanting a better understanding of how people create their mindset surrounding conflict, this book is for you. She weaves in lighthearted stories that help drive home the point: our perspective on conflict isn't formed in a bubble. It is developed through a myriad of experiences that influence the way we approach challenging situations. Using the insights from this book will help you become more empowered to handle your own conflict and the conflict of those around you.
- Marty Lester - Executive DirectorMentor Iowa