Sunday, July 21, 2013

Arguing & Compromise - In Pursuit of Dispute Resolution

When you are in a conflict which applies to you more?
I see disagreements constantly in both my work and personal life.  Being drawn to passionate, driven people and industries, I have much experience with many conflicts of ideas an preferences.  As I have matured, I have been taught much about the most common methods of conflict resolution, argument and compromise.

I have only recently been exposed to other methods of resolution such as discussion (debate) and negotiation.  These two methods in particular are very rarely seen in day to day resolution attempts.  They both are a complete about face from the common methods noted above.  In both cases, discussion and negotiation, turn the personal dynamic of the interaction from one of adversaries to one of mutual cooperation in pursuit of a resolution.  There is a fundamental switch of the outcome from a win/loose, to a win/win resolution.

As I have practiced these rare modes of resolution more and more, this mindset shift has had a massive effect on all aspects of my life.  Sharon and I do not fight at all anymore.  We disagree constantly of course, but we are now always on the same side, working together to resolve our disagreement as teammates.  At work, I also no longer find myself participating in escalating and frustrating conflicts.  I am now more mellow, soft spoken, and sensitive to new ideas.

I would like to present to you here my understanding of these modes of conflict resolution since I see the latter so rarely out in the world.  I would also invite your feedback on experiences you have had with regards to conflict resolution.

Resolving Ideas - Arguing vs. Discussion

Arguing - The communication is a battle where each speaker in turn attempts to convince the other that their view is the more just intellectual and moral position. Participants typically spend much of their mental energy on formulating their next point and refutations of the other's points while waiting for their turn to talk. Typically, the level of curiosity and careful listening is very low. Emotions often escalate quickly as participants become frustrated at the other's lack of empathy, curiosity, and honesty.
A helpful guide to identifying
if you are in a discussion.

Discussion - The communication is a joint adventure in which peer participants  join forces, working together to determine a common truth by utilizing the best knowledge and insights of both logically combined in a constructive manner. Participants typically spend much of their mental energy listening to the other, combining the new information with their own to spark new threads of thought. Typically the participants have high curiosity levels which leads them to ask questions when they do not understand a point. These questions often will shine a light on an inconsistent thought allowing the quick clearing up of cloudy logic. Since both participants are aligned to a common goal, emotions remain manageable. As an emotion does emerge, both participant's empathy and curiosity allow the emotion to be identified and resolved quickly.

Resolving Preferences - Compromise vs. Negotiation

Compromise - The process of arguing with another when each person's preferences are not aligned. A compromise is generally made when both participants agree to a common third preference somewhere between each of their original preferences. Both participants end up less happy than if they had gotten their original preference, as such, both have made some sacrifice in order to find a common outcome. The communication focuses on the WHAT and HOW of the preferences at stake. The WHY of any given preference is often not discussed.

Negotiation - The process of discussion with another when each person's preferences are not aligned.  With negotiation, participants generally start with the WHY of their preferences.  By identifying the human needs driving each of their preferences, the participants are able to combine their needs lists into one common set and then work together to find a common solution which meets the full list.  At the end of a negotiation  most all needs of both participants are met, and neither has felt that they had to sacrifice something to find a common outcome.

1 comment:

Tim Macy said...

I'm currently in an argumentitive writing class and I have to choose a topic. I'm going to attempt to argue that we should not make persuasive and argumentative writing such large parts of writing curriculums and instead teach more compromise and negotiation. In google searches of a multitude of things, your blog entry is the only one I've found to bring this up.