We tend to approach conflict situations as 'win/ lose'.
" ME VERSUS YOU, RATHER THAN US VERSUS THE PROBLEM "
Outcomes that are determined through power or rights are frail. Outcomes determined through interests and needs are sustainable.
Winning through power has drawbacks that make this choice shortsighted. Because the loser’s interests and/or needs have been ignored, there is residue. It’s important to remember that losers also have power that can be unleashed in many, and usually invisible ways. Power-based problem solving is usually a sign that the big picture is out of focus – something like winning a battle while losing the war.
"Be careful what you wish for"
RIGHTS - based on laws or rules
Settlements based on rights are not mutual agreements, so stability and continuity is hard to expect. Rules are what dictate the outcomes of rights-based settlements, but rules hardly address the nuances of disputants’ real interests. Because a third party imposes a final decision [adjudicates], the parties have no way of working to generate their own creative solutions for customized agreement that takes their respective needs and interests in to consideration.
When disputants embrace the opportunity to keep control of outcomes, then their interests and needs will be taken in to account and discussed. That leads to agreements that are invented to suit circumstances, for the parties, and by the parties. Because each has participated in building consensus, there is mutual commitment to the results. That is where agreements get durability and robustness from.
It is only after interests-based approaches have been exhausted that rights should be invoked; and failing that, power.
Mervyn Malamed is an Organisational Conflict Management professional. Employees who are equipped to cope with crises and conflict carry a positive mind-set to friends, family and more. This exponential effect rubs off; it enhances lives and comes around to further enrich that same employee, co-workers, and the organisation itself.
With three decades in the jewellery industry behind him, and having built his own manufacturing, retailing, and consulting businesses in the US and in South Africa, he understands how productivity was reduced in his own companies through outdated and destructive conflict handling.
After some years studying the links between conflict management and productivity, it has become clear that massive opportunities are being missed. There is gross under-investment of time, money, skills, and ‘space’ in informal, interest-based options to deal with conflict.