Interests Rather Than Positions

In principle, when someone comes into a meeting or a negotiation with an already-established position, it limits prospects for creative, innovative, win-win solutions. When I state my position on an issue early in the discussion, my focus thereafter becomes defending my position and trying to persuade others to agree with it. I might even get side-tracked into defending my pride rather than considering what is best for the group. On the other hand, if I am able to speak clearly about my interests (what I would like to get out of the issue without attachment to a particular way of getting it), and I am able to listen openly to others' interests, we have a much better chance of all getting what we want.

Practical Tip: Focus first on what you really want rather than how to get it. If you are leaning toward a particular solution, peel back a layer, dig a bit deeper, and ask, “What desire in me does this solution attempt to satisfy?” Ask yourself, “What is my fundamental interest here?” Identify what you are really interested in, give it words, and speak the words to others. Listen carefully to their words about their interests. As a group, hear and understand all interests before crafting solutions.

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