When I get a new computer or computer program, I read the manual but it is not always meaningful. If I try it out and then come back to the manual, the manual is more meaningful. I found the experience also helpful with improving my mediation skills. Many years ago when I started mediating, I read “Getting to Yes” by Roger Fisher and William Ury. I recently reread the book and I found it very helpful. In particular I liked their following four basis points of principled negotiations.
People: Separate the people from the problem.
Interests: Focus on interests, not positions.
Options: Generate a variety of possibilities before deciding what to do.
Criteria: Insist that the result be based on some objective standard.
In particular I find focusing on interests no positions as very important. The book uses a variation on one of my favorite examples.
“Yet all too often negotiators end up like the proverbial children who quarreled over an orange. After they finally agreed to divide the orange in half, the first child took one half, ate the fruit, and threw away the peel, while the other threw away the fruit and used the peel from the second half in baking a cake. All too often negotiators “leave money on the table” – they fail to reach agreement when they might have, or the agreement they do reach could have been better for each side. Too many negotiations end up with half an orange for each side instead of the whole fruit for one and the whole peel for the other. Why?”
If the children had used interest based problem solving, they would have had twice as much of the part of the orange they wanted.
I am going to use more oranges and interest based problem solving in my mediation!
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