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The Four Tensions in Mediation

Mediation is the facilitation of negotiation and in order to do it well you need a conceptual understanding of negotiation and the four tensions that need managing:

  1. Its only about the Money and Alternative Solution Creation.

Creating value by expanding the pie, broadening horizons and looking at different ways to distribute the pie by focusing on interests and needs.  What extras do they have to give or ask for?

  1. Empathy and Assertiveness

Help each party to have the capacity to understand the world through the mind of the other party as well as have the capacity to assert what their interests and needs are to help the other side to have the capacity to understand them.  It’s a mix of empathy and assertiveness and beware how competitive people are in being good at asserting and lousy listeners. Keep reminding that the other side’s perspectives have to be taken into account.

  1. The third tension is that of Principals and Agents

Someone who acts on behalf of a party as a negotiator may be difficult to align with their client because they have their own interests and needs, for example Lawyer and Client.  The mediator has to actively manage and ensure they understand each other.

  1. Demands and Requests

The constant flow of people in dispute is the demand that the other side has got to know this or do that or must, have to, ought etc.  Constant reminders that proposals are always requests to which a no can be the answer and that a request will draw them nearer to their goals than any demand.

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