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Positions v. Interests

by Cinnie Noble
December 2013

Cinergy Coaching by Cinnie Noble

Cinnie Noble
In the field of Alternative Dispute Resolution, mediators, among other things, help people in dispute come to a mutually acceptable resolution about issues they do not agree on. Each party typically holds a disparate perspective from the other on what constitutes an appropriate settlement. By the time they get to talk it out in the mediation process to see if they can resolve matters, they have often become entrenched in their positions and the relationship is suffering.

Positions reflect what we assert we want as an outcome. The more we defend our positions, the stronger we seem to hold onto them. It also seems our identity and ego becomes attached to what we perceive as the rightness of our view – and we defend our position at every turn. Along the way, our growing emotions cloud reason, and the challenges to effective problem-solving also grow.

Interests, on the other hand, reflect not only what is important to us as an outcome. They also reflect the reasons why they are important. Interests lie underneath what we say we want – and reveal our hopes, needs, values, beliefs, and expectations. Unfortunately, they frequently become obfuscated in the fight for our positions – which do not necessarily reflect the core of what the disagreement is about.

In an effort to reach mutually agreeable solutions when in conflict, it helps to identify our interests and articulate what outcome is important to us and why. Doing so tends to open up the possibilities that are otherwise limited by holding steadfastly to positions.

This week’s blog explores these concepts by inviting you to respond to these ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) and explore a conflict in which you are currently embroiled.

What is the dispute about from your perspective?

What is your position on the optimum outcome? Why is that important to you?

In what ways is the other person’s perspective on the dispute the same as yours? What is different?

What is the other person’s position on the best outcome, as far as you know? Why is that important to her or him?

How do you want the relationship to be when things are settled? How do you want the other person to feel about you? How do you want to feel about her or him?

What may the two of you already agree on? What other common ground may you share?

Considering your answers to the above questions so far, what options for resolution may there be that may be mutually agreeable – satisfying what you need and what the other person needs?

What are the disadvantages of each option for you? For the other person?

What are the advantages of each option for you? For the other person?

What new insights do you have, if any, from this series of questions?

What other ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) may you add here?

Biography


Cinnie Noble is a lawyer, mediator and certified coach. She created the CINERGY model of conflict coaching in 1999 and coaches, consults and trains the CINERGY model in Canada, the U.S., Ireland, Australia and Europe.  Cinnie is also the author of Conflict Management Coaching: The CINERGY Model.



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