Interest Based Conflict Resolution
From: HTilstra (
Date: Wed, 2 Dec 1998 17:52:36 -0600
What is more practical than a good theory! Here's my favourite in relation to

I have found it helpful to apply "interest-based conflict resolution" rather
than a "rights based" (I am right, you are wrong) and "power based" (I have
more votes than you) approaches.

Power-based approach aims for the other party to give in. So, the expectation
that one party will win and one will lose. The focus is on differences between
the parties. As a result there is an increased difficulty in backing down or
compromising for fear of losing face. This may cause a fear that one party may
not be able to be trusted. Hence a likely escalation of a dispute, a likely
recurrence of disputes and damage to the relationship between parties.
Majority rules can be in between using power and being "right".

Rights-based negotiations usually involve arbitration by a third party
according to some objective criteria such as costs, efficiency, legislation,
norms, moral standards, precedents, traditions and claims on "common sense".

Interests are the real issues behind positions. Key interests are wants &
needs, fears & concerns. Specifically, physical needs, security, sense of
belonging, need to be loved, control over one's life. 

This approach requires understanding of both parties' interest. So, if a
Quaker in a hot city rejects air conditioning, I would have a great deal of
curiosity about that person's stance. I'd want to convey that curiosity. the
brainstorming of creative options would be next, but first create this fertile
void where the person objecting, blocking, positioning is experiencing the
psychological air to clarify for themselves what it actually is that people
are objecting to.  
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