“The 3rd Alternative” By Stephen R. Covey - British Herald
February 26, 2021

“The 3rd Alternative” By Stephen R. Covey

“The 3rd Alternative “ is a book written by Stephen R. Covey which deals mainly with a breakthrough approach towards resolution of conflicts and creative problem solving.
It transcends traditional solutions to conflicts by forging a path towards a Third option which allows both parties to emerge from debates or even heated conflicts, in a far better place than either had envisioned.

Covey in this book , advocates synergy as a win -win strategy that is superior to compromise or arbitration or compromise in resolving differences of opinion. One of the best of current slf-help authors, Stephen Covey is a master at extracting useful ideas from other writers and presenting them in a very useful easily-recalled formulas and equations as an aid to personal and group problem-solving.

“ The 3rd Alternative “ is a proposed way of thinking about problem- solving that goes like : (1) I see me (2) I see you (3) I seek you out and (4) I synergize with uou. In order to synergize, one enters a ”Magic theater” ( a term borrowed from Hesse’s “Steppenwolf”) where seemingly crazy and illogical ideas are permitted. One asks a “third alternative” question: what is a solution to this problem that is better than each party might come up with.
In this book Covey demonstrates the power of “ The 3rd Alternative “ through key examples and stories from his work as a consultant , offering offering examples of how to de-escalate conflict as well as how to build strong relationships with diverse people, based on an attitude of winning together.

Covey, through this book has inspired the reader to think differently about solving problems than we ever have before.

Next, the criteria of success are defined and a “third alternative” solution is created and arrived at. Another way of stating this is that both parties see and do and get something using information seen through the eyes of both.

Covey reinforces these ideas by describing how they might work in different cultures and in different settings such as schools., social services , community building and religious differences. This book is designed as a text book with questions and exercises at the end of each chapter. As one reads on the reader sees that the chapters are well-organized and well-developed, and that Covey (who is a former educator) has used his decades of experience in several settings to create another useful self –help book in the tradition of “The Seven Habits”.

“The 3rd Alternative” is recommended to readers as a positive, useful method of considering the other fellow’s point of view and resolving conflicts.parents, teachers, social workers and community leaders might all consider “The 3rd Alternative.”

In the first part of this book, Covey spends time to explain what 3rd alternative thinking is and how to implement it to achieve his famous “win-win” habit. He interjects paradigms that we must focus on to succeed.. They are : “ I See Myself ”; “ I See You “; “ I Seek You Out “, and “ I Synergize With You “. Much like his most famous 7 Habits book, he goes into the detail of what each of these looks like in practice.

In the second half of theis book, Covey spends time illustrating how people have changed their paradigm and implemented “The 3rd Alternatives “ in their lives, their communities, their governments and in the world. With a few notable exceptions , the people whom Covey highlights are not famous and by his own admission you may not have heard of.

By all standards, “The 3rd Alternative”is a very good book and it gives the messagethat we should all strive for – Seeking alternatives not just for resolution, but to better humanity.
The biggest challenge to this book was staying engaged in the stories. You would not have known with his sharp wit and his mind is as focused as ever.

“The 3rd Alternative “ unveils a radical new way of thinking that represents the supreme opportunity of our time.. It’s a wise and welcome echo of Einstein’s warning that the problems we are facing today cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.

According to Covey, most conflicts have two sides and each of the two alternatives is deeply rooted in a certain mind-set. He also gives a specific example for this as he himself put it, the mind-set of environmentalist is formed by appreciation for delicate beauty and balance of nature. The mind-set of the developer, according to Covey is formed by a desire to see communities grow and economic opportunities increase. Each side usually sees itself as virtuous and rational and the other side as lacking virtue or common sense.

Gopakumara Panicker. K. S.

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