Positions and Interests in Mediation

March 17, 2018 by  
Filed under Mediation

March 17, 2018

Recently I read this quip, “to be sure to hit the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.” As divorce mediators, we often see parties to negotiation who take this approach. Another way to put it is “shoot first, ask questions later.”

What happens is that a party will enter a negotiation having certain interests that they want fulfilled. So, they stake out a position calculated to fulfill the interest. And, once they stake their claim to the position, that becomes their target. Often, the position is not well crafted to secure the party’s interest. Perhaps the position is overreaching and demands things that are beyond what is necessary to fulfill the interest, or maybe not even really related to the interest. But, they have “shot first,” without fully considering what is needed to fulfill their interest. And, they’ve claimed their position as the target.

It is part of the job of the mediator to apply a filter to the parties’ positions and discern what their real interests are. What are they trying to obtain? What are they trying to protect? And, what are they afraid of losing?

When the mediator can help the parties discern what is really important, rather than what happened to be encompassed in their original positions, they are well on their way to a negotiated settlement that is satisfactory to all.



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