Conflict: Difference Between “Interests” & “Positions”

  • January 3, 2023
  • 3 min read

In the realm of mediation, the distinction between positions and interests forms the crux of the mediator’s strategy. This blog post delves into the crucial concept that a good mediator focuses on unraveling the real interests of conflicting parties rather than being swayed by their outwardly stated positions.

Position vs. Interest: Peeling Back the Layers

When engaged in a conflict, individuals often articulate their positions – a straightforward, often rigid, expression of what they want or believe. However, a seasoned mediator recognizes that positions merely scratch the surface. Real interests, on the other hand, reside in the deeper, more emotional layers of the human experience.

Understanding Your Real Interests

Your real interests go beyond the logical and factual aspects of your position. They encompass the emotional nuances, the need to be heard, and the desire for collaboration with the world. A good mediator aims to uncover these genuine interests, recognizing that they are often more human, relatable, and easier to work with than the initially stated positions.

Collaboration Over Confrontation

Positions can act as masks or walls, obscuring the true essence of what parties hope to achieve. Mediation excels in breaking down these barriers, revealing the shared human interests that form the common ground for collaboration. The focus shifts from confrontational positions to collaborative solutions that cater to the emotional and practical needs of all parties involved.

The Human Element: Easier to Understand and Accept

In mediating conflicts, the human element takes precedence. Real interests bring forth the emotional facets of a dispute, making it easier for parties to understand and accept each other. What may have seemed like insurmountable differences in positions often dissolve when confronted with the shared humanity encapsulated in real interests.

The Mediator’s Expertise: Navigating the Emotional Landscape

A skilled mediator is adept at navigating the emotional landscape of conflicting parties. By seeking to understand the underlying interests, mediators foster an environment where individuals feel heard, valued, and empathized with. This empathetic approach paves the way for collaborative resolutions that honor the humanity in each participant.

Unveiling Humanity in Conflict Resolution

The journey of conflict resolution transcends the mere exchange of positions. A good mediator acknowledges the humanity inherent in each party’s real interests, making the process not only more accessible but also more harmonious. By peeling back the layers, conflicts transform into opportunities for understanding, collaboration, and lasting resolutions.

The next time you find yourself in a conflict, remember that a good mediator is not just interested in your positions but is dedicated to unveiling the authentic human interests that can lead to a shared journey of resolution.

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