Unlocking Entrenched Conflict Using Principles and Practices of Negotiation in the Mediation Room

UnlockingBeyond Winning:

Unlocking Entrenched Conflict Using Principles and Practices of
Negotiation in the Mediation Room

Margaret Considine

This article looks at the uses and application of the tools and tactics
of negotiation in the mediation room. It explores how the art and
practice of negotiation might be of practical use to skilled mediators
as they assist parties to devise a solution they have worked for by
effectively negotiating their way skillfully through the issues.
Mediation is a profession, and understanding the dynamics of the
dance of negotiation and how it affects the mindsets and actions of
parties in a conflict can help mediators get behind the initial
positions of parties, through effective dialogue to explore interests
and to have the parties meet their needs without sacrificing the
needs or goals of the other party. “Words and Concessions are the
lubrication of negotiations” Prof. Robert Mnookin Head of the
Program on Negotiation Harvard Law School.

Have you ever found yourself listening to your clients tell their story in
mediation and think they are so locked in this conflict it will take Kofi Anan
to move them? Did you every listen to your clients argue and think they are
so far apart on the same issue that finding any form of common ground, or
mutuality of interest, is going to be very difficult for you as mediator? If so,
then a broad knowledge of the tools, skills and dynamics of the psychology
of negotiation might just serve you well at those tough times. In this article
I will simplify some of the dynamics of negotiation and show how they can
be an advantage to a skilled and practiced mediator to generate more
movement in entrenched conflicts towards a mutually acceptable solution
for all sides. Mediation is when a neutral third party facilitates parties in
dispute to have a difficult conversation and skillfully helps them find a
resolution to their problems, in a safe and equitable way. It is process that
facilitates communication and negotiation between the parties to the
conflict and promotes voluntary decision making by the parties to prevent
or resolve a dispute and to assist them to reach a mutually acceptable

Mediation seeks to: resolve the conflict, change disputing behaviours, assist
communication, improve understanding, facilitate negotiations, maintain
parity between the parties, treat people fairly and make realistic workable
agreements. In all of this, a thorough knowledge of the dynamics of
negotiation can only help master the art of your professional practice as a
skilled mediator.

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