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Dance of Opposites – Book Review

The Dance of Opposites, a new book by Dr. Kenneth Cloke, will change your life. You will never view conflict the same way again. If you only read one more book on the theory & practice of Conflict Resolution, make it this one. Dr. Cloke's explorations in mediation, dialogue, and conflict resolution systems are revolutionary.

Dr. Cloke quotes Albert Camus, "The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself." It is clear that his new vision for conflict resolution intends to do just that.

The chapter, "Elements of a New Vision," takes us on a journey toward a comprehensive conflict resolution system that constitutes a fundamental transformation in the way we disagree and resolve our differences as a species. His imperatives are inarguable as we look upon today's world to observe the senseless killing that is characteristic of so many cultures on our planet. It is not surprising that this book comes from the same person who founded Mediators Beyond Borders some years ago.

"The Elements of the Language of Conflict," leads us into a clear understanding of why it may be inevitable that our species troubles frequently begin with thoughtless use of language. Misinformation, misunderstanding, confusion and incorrect interpretation is integral to the language of conflict that is a style of communication based on combat. We must rethink the whole essence of our ability to communicate.

Dr. Cloke offers clear and convincing evidence of both the problem and a proposed solution that will be of immense interest to practicing attorneys who usually regard themselves as Masters of Communication. My experience is that most lawyers must continue to study skillful communication styles.

From language, Dr. Cloke moves into the narrative structure of conflict. His illustrative stories explain the "20 Ways to Transform Conflict." This chapter alone is worth the price of the book. He clearly sets forth the process for building bridges between the psychology of conflict, and the implications for the mediator who must learn to navigate the crucial distinctions that typically separate parties engaged in conflict.

The Conflict Resolution questions in Chapter Five, "10 Steps to Transcendence" in Chapter Six, and “Heartfelt Communications in Conflict Resolution Systems", discussed in Chapter Seven, are capable of forever altering our approach to working with families. Solutions come by way of study, insight, understanding, and awareness. The author provides clear, express, concrete tools to accomplish this.

This is a must-read for AAML Fellows working in this most difficult area of conflict resolution. The final chapters on Mediation, Law, and Justice are superb. Dr. Cloke's experience studying Chinese mediation techniques in the eastern hemisphere offer amazing insights into that culture, as well as valuable pointers to the practitioner for improving quality of service. His understanding of both process and protocol have guided him in this new direction that is worthy of our study and consideration.

100 years from now our present process to resolve conflict will be recognized as obsolete. Dr. Cloke's book will help us move forward to create a positive difference in our contemporary culture. That is the message. That is the challenge. That is the opportunity. Read the book.

Available here.


Kenneth Cloke

Kenneth Cloke is Director of the Center for Dispute Resolution and a mediator, arbitrator, consultant and trainer, specializing in resolving complex multi-party conflicts internationally and in designing conflict resolution systems for organizations. Ken is a nationally recognized speaker and leader in the field of conflict resolution, and a published author… MORE >


Ron Supancic

Ronald M. Supancic has practiced Family Law exclusively since 1970.  Ron was admitted to the Supreme Court of the United States on October 15, 1975. He has been certified by the California Bar Association Board of Legal Specialization as a Family Law Specialist since the inception of that certification program… MORE >

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