Summary and Review of Reaching Common Ground by Frederick Golder

Summary of

Reaching Common Ground: A Comprehensive Guide to Conflict Resolution

By Frederick Golder

Summary written by Frederick Golder

Citation: Frederick Golder. 2020. Frederick Golder. Reaching Common Ground: A Comprehensive Guide to Conflict Resolution. Luminare Press. 

Bi no longer has the staff to produce our own book and article summaries as we used to, but Frederick Golder has provided this summary of his recently book, together with several reviews thereof.


My book, Reaching Common Ground, is the culmination of more than twenty-five years of teaching and practicing conflict resolution and problem-solving and six years of research. I wanted to understand the reasons for the polarization. I looked at genetics, biology, evolution, psychology, emotion, motivation, and personality to understand the underlying reasons for the lack of civility, labeling, and name-calling used to stifle different viewpoints and why people were being verbally and sometimes physically attacked for expressing different ideas.

We have become more adversarial and confrontational, with consequences not only in our ability to solve problems but also in our personal relationships. Today’s most contentious issues are framed as us-versus-them identity-based conflicts: men against women, blacks against whites, citizens against immigrants, and liberals against conservatives.   

Our behavior is driven by a combination of factors. Each of us has a unique mental filtering system, which provides our perspective on the world. This system consists of our genetic makeup and personality (nature) and is expanded by our life experiences (nurture). Even though our genes, environment, and personality predispose us to certain behaviors, we have the ability to alter our behavior in a positive direction and make conscious decisions despite our programming. We grow up in families, communities, and within a geographic location, which influence our value system and opinions. Our filtering system may include conscious and subconscious biases and prejudices. Our filtering system is so ingrained that we think everyone sees the world as we do. These differences are a significant source of conflict. We cannot change anyone’s opinions, values, ideas, attitudes, judgments, or viewpoints, but, we can understand each other better through learning conversations.  

While conflict is inevitable in human interactions, my book is an antidote to this toxic environment and explains: (1) the underlying causes of conflict; (2) how to communicate more effectively; (3) how to solve problems; and (4) how to resolve conflicts constructively, despite differences in core values, gender, race, religion, culture, national origin, age, sexual orientation, economic status, and power imbalances. When you know how to turn confrontation into constructive dialogue, problems can be solved and conflicts can be resolved, while maintaining positive relationships.



Reaching Common Ground is a timely book, detailing effective ways of resolving conflicts despite our differences. My real concern is that Golder’s insights will not be heard by enough people.” Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of FlowFinding Flow, and The Evolving Self

“Reaching Common Ground is a comprehensive overview of the sources of conflict and the best approaches to peacefully resolving them. Golder outlines the inevitable differences of the human condition, spanning everything from variations in genetic makeup to stark differences in upbringing, culture, religion, language, economic status, and power. Based on decades of experience in conflict resolution, Reaching Common Ground points the way to creating a more cooperative and less divided world.” Ian Hughes, author of  Disordered Minds: How Dangerous Personalities Are Destroying Democracy

“The first aspect of the book I enjoyed from the beginning was the author's ability to recognize the need to educate readers on understanding and accepting our differences. He adequately touched on genetic, personality, environmental, gender, origin, age, cultural, and sexual orientation differences, among others. This is a key area of the book, and while it may seem like something people should already know these things, most people don't seem to consider these differences when faced with opposing views. The author favors a well-planned and thoughtful approach when dealing with conflicts, and that is reflected in how he presents the information in this book. While there is a lot to unpack and understand here, the author's stepwise organization of his lessons that are divided into three parts (sources, types, and solutions of conflicts) makes the information accessible and easily digestible.

The appendix at the end of the book containing several questionnaires was very helpful, as it fostered effective reader participation and helped me search deep within myself for the improvements I needed in resolving conflicts. I am sure that readers will discover a lot of new things about themselves from reading this guide as well.
Furthermore, the author is also insightful enough to include cautions throughout his lessons about generalizations and stereotyping, which are unhelpful traps people may fall into while reading. Readers must understand that every individual is different, even though there are presumed general behaviors of people in particular groups (gender, race, religion, etc.). I found the solutions to the problem not only comprehensive but also life-changing. Frederick T. Golder left no stone unturned while he included numerous relevant research and methods in learning the skills and principles to change our mindsets, transform our cultures, improve collaboration, and resolve conflict. From the lessons on empathy and understanding humans' hierarchy of needs to the ones on conflict-handling styles, neuro-linguistic programming, effective negotiation, and the advanced use of reliable big data and algorithms in conflict resolution, there is quite a lot for readers to look forward to from this guide.
I cannot think of any aspect of the book I do not like. In fact, the author's passion for wanting to make the world a better place, which emits on the pages of the book, inspires me to want to do better. I rate this guide four out of four stars. It is a clear, comprehensive, well-referenced, and thoughtful attempt at solving one of the most significant threats to world peace. I must state that this book will benefit everybody, but I would recommend this piece to people who are seeking self-improvement.” Online Book Review


Reaching Common Ground: A Comprehensive Guide to Conflict Resolution is available wherever books are sold:

Note: This article is © Frederick Golder.