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Acknowledge Conflicting Interests and Work to Understanding your Interests and their Interests 

by Michael W. Hawkins

Published: October, 2018

Submission: October, 2018


In order to accomplish this important task, the following are steps to follow:

A. Make a list of other sides’ interest.

  1. It will help your remember them and stimulate ideas for how to meet such needs

B. Communicate your interests when they are in conflict.

  1. Help the other side to see just how important and legitimate your interests are.
  2. Be specific and objective.
  3. Convince them they would feel the same in your shoes and recognize how you might feel in their shoes.
  4. What tone do you want to set?

C. Articulate the problem before the solution

D. Prioritize their issues in light of their needs/interests

E. What does the other party care about:

  1. One Party Cares more About:

a. Form

b. Economic considerations

c. Internal considerations and emotional issues.

d. Symbolic considerations

e. Immediate future

f. Ad hoc results

g. Hardware

h. Progress

i. Precedent

j. Prestige, reputation

k. Political points

     2. The Other party Cares More About:

a. Substance

b. Political considerations

c. External considerations

d. Practical considerations

e. More distant future

f. The relationship

g. Ideology

h. Respect for tradition

i. This case

j.  Results

k. Group welfare

After you explore the area of interests, ask for the other side’s preferences and look for items of low cost to you and high value to them, and vice versa. In mediations, I have found that if this area is properly managed by all involved the prospect of a successful resolution of the dispute increases significantly. Often the solution is a surprise to both parties. This can be time valuably spent toward a settlement.


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