Parties in conflict have a natural tendency to think and talk in positions. Positions are statements or demands framed as solutions. Positions often involve incomplete information, hidden agendas, and “bottom line” posturing. Arguing and bargaining using your position leads to impasse or compromise, and rarely leads to creative, win/win solutions.
Underneath the arguments of positions lie interests. Interests are broader than positions. They encompass such things as needs, concerns, and hopes – what Fisher and Ury have called “the silent movers behind the hubbub of poisons.” Interests can arise from substantive, procedural, or emotional factors.
The good communicator’s role:
Is to try direct the focus away from your position and the other person’s positions and to explore what you are really interested in. Exploring interests helps both persons to develop common solutions. Understanding you own interests unlocks new ideas and solutions. Understanding the other person’s interests can help move the discussion towards solutions which meet needs on both sides. You may also discover that you share many basic interests (e.g., financial security, ending of hostilities, workplace peace)
STRATEGIES FOR EXPLORING INTERESTS
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