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7 Elements of Negotiation: Part 4, Options

by Jeff Thompson
March 2009

From Jeff Thompson's Enjoy Mediation Blog

Jeff Thompson
You are now past the early stages of the negotiation/mediation. It is now time to generate some movement. When each side has expressed their interests, next you look at options.

Options are the full spectrum of possible agreements. When brainstorming options, keep in mind that each option should meet the needs of both parties- not just you!

let me mention a couple of key points to generating options:

  • Create first, evaluate second. List all options first, not leaving anything out. After all possible options have been listed, then go over each and determine if they meet each parties needs.

  • Write them down on paper or a board without giving credit to who said what. This helps move in the collaborative direction instead of confrontation. I find it useful to use the 'mind map' method to listing options. It is simple- you put the issue in the middle of the paper, and then draw out branches for each possible option. Some study somewhere says this helps the mind be creative... who knows, but it works for me.

  • Looking at options helps move away from the idea that there are only two options- i win or he/she wins. You are expanding the pie (of options) here.

Exploring options is key to mediation and negotiation. The simple reason is the parties get the satisfaction that they are taking ownership of the issue(s) and have a direct say in how it can possibly be resolved. It has been said many times times the process and method of handling the dispute is equally important to the participants as the issue itself.

Biography


Jeff Thompson, Ph.D., is a professor at Lipscomb University, researcher, mediator, and trainer. He is also involved in crisis and hostage negotiation as well as a law enforcement detective. His research includes law enforcement crisis and hostage negotiation in terrorist incidents. He received his doctorate from Griffith University Law School having researched the impact nonverbal communication has in conflict situations with respect to developing rapport, building trust, and displaying professionalism.

Dr. Thompson has presented and trained on the topic of conflict, mediation, (crisis and hostage) negotiation, communication and nonverbal communication internationally for a variety of audiences including police personnel, government officials, judges, attorneys, physicians, sales people, business professionals, and both graduate and undergraduate students. He has also been published in numerous professional and academic publications.

He is the co-chair of ACR's national Crisis Negotiation Section, and he is an ad-hoc reviewer for multiple academic journals. He received his MS in Negotiation and Dispute Resolution from the Werner Institute, Creighton University School of Law.

(All posts by Jeff Thompson represent his personal reflections and opinions and not that of any organization.)



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