Mediation Resources and Articles on Conflict Resolution in Ireland

Challenge Your Assumptions: Have a Go At Value.

on Monday, 08 June 2015.

Challenge Your Assumptions: Have a Go At Value.

No matter what deal you are negotiating or how closed the options seem to be there is always room for some extra value. All it takes is a desire to seek extra value, and believe me extra can come from the most unexpected areas.  The first and most important thing to consider is your own mind set, are you making assumptions or are you really open about the possibility of increasing value in your deals.

 So what do I mean about extra value, well simply put we use all the available resources to create a deal that makes the most of the opportunity to make both parties better off, or at least to benefit one without adversely affecting the co-party. It is about generating options within the deal which provide value on important interests, it is not all about getting a better price. Why bother fighting over a share of a pie when you can simply make the pie bigger, “Expand The Pie” and then share it out. This is very different from the traditional mind set of winning the deal, or beating the opposition in the negotiation. That is the traditional, and I would argue, poor model of negotiations that most people try to achieve because they assume it’s the expected path to follow. What I recommend is something completely different, learn that good negotiators don’t win, they achieve, and they succeed. They set their goals and then behave in a manner to achieve the outcome. Become a problem solver. Identify the deal as a joint problem that you will solve together, rather than an instrument to beat each other up with.

Goals Define Behaviour

on Friday, 13 March 2015.

Negotiations can be high intensity situations, where emotions and human nature can play a huge role. Sadly as often as this emotive and adrenaline filled environment can produce the drive to get the deal done, it can often be the cause of huge error. Many people, and certainly high stake negotiators, love the feeling of urgency, or ground breaking and the almost volcanic feeling of getting a deal done. However when the adrenaline drives you forward, clarity is lost, and the best tactic to employ is often the less enjoyable but more stable game of slowing down and being patient. Of the many mistakes observed the following key errors can lead to a deal being lost, satisfaction being reduced or worse still the whole relationship being damaged:

Concessions are made, uncontrolled negotiators may give away key aspects of the divisional sum to the point that they actually end up with a deal that is worse than their BATNA, best alternative to a negotiated agreement. A good an experienced negotiator will certainly be able to recognise the urgency in her counterpart’s behaviour and be able to use it to her advantage. The urgency leads to a situation where the time factor or a deadline becomes the main interest, despite how many key interests were identified in the preparatory work. A long drawn out deal, or a high octane environment which continues day and night until the deadline can both lead to a situation where urgency takes over. goalbehavuour

Negotiators Born or Bred?

on Saturday, 28 February 2015.

He Called Me Francis Underwood:

 

I’m not a politician, well not an elected representative anyway and yet lately I was compared to Francis Underwood from the fantastic television series “House Of Cards”. Not sure what was meant, I asked, in what way. The answer I got was that people like me are all the same, we are always looking for a way around problems, always looking for solutions rather than, as he saw it, dealing with the problem. Not sure if he meant it as a compliment or not I did start thinking, what did he mean as people like me, is there a group of us who see things in a different way, and why. Are deal makers born or bred?

Share Interests Expand the Pie

on Tuesday, 13 January 2015.

Share Interests Expand the Pie

Many negotiators view the sharing of interests with trepidation, fearing that they will be manipulated if they divulge information to their counterparts, or that sharing interests is somehow soft and negotiations should be about the hard line cut and thrust of the distributive aspect. And to some degree they are correct, there will always need to be distribution of the core assets, and it is enjoyable to get down to the details and play hard ball. Let’s be honest, everyone in business gets some kick out of negotiating a deal and playing tough, the adrenaline flows and the emotional response when you win is great. Definitely offering up interests does lead to the potential to be manipulated and for them to be used against you. However there are huge advantages to sharing interests and there are ways to protect you in the negotiation

Shuttle Mediation: Advocate Strongly Transform the Conflict

on Monday, 12 January 2015.

Shuttle Mediation: Advocate Strongly Transform the Conflict

As a mediator two things are of huge importance in conflict resolution, one is neutrality (and the perception of it) and the other is trust. The parties to the mediation need to experience the neutrality of the mediator from the outset and they need to trust the mediator fully as someone who will try to facilitate them in getting to a manageable resolution. This is never more the case than in a shuttle situation where the parties not only can’t see each other but can’t see how the mediator behaves when working with the other party.  

As always this offers both opportunity and challenge. The challenge is that the mediator must show that he/she is neutral and is operating in a fair manner. The opportunity is that is allows the mediator to advocate for each party in a stronger manner, suggestions for solution can be reality checked in a more robust manner. This is because the party is protected from their counterpart and doesn’t feel like suggestions are offers. In other words the mediator can hold a brainstorming style session where all ideas can be expressed with no commitment and no ownership. He/she can then go through each option and reality check them. The difficulty here is that it can be quite challenging for the party in conflict to hear that their ideas are not as workable as they think. It is possible that they will perceive that the mediator is striking out all their ideas for resolution and therefore in some way siding with the other party…neutrality gets questioned. However once the guarantee is given that the mediator advocates as strongly for each party with the other it can become a transformative mediation. By simply saying “look here’s why that idea might not work” or asking the correct “What if Questions” the possibilities for lasting resolution become clearer. 

Mediation: Not For The Faint Hearted

on Thursday, 08 January 2015.

Mediation: Not For The Faint Hearted

 

It seemed to me that Christmas and the prospect of a new year brought with it a desire to end or change a lot of conflict, whether people were taken over by the Christmas spirit or just didn't want another year of the same old arguments I'm not sure. What became apparent was that we were busier than ever and there was a genuine desire to do something. However what also became obvious is that mediation is as much about conflict management as it is about conflict resolution. The Mediation Practice has  a tag line: Resolve Reassure Restore, and that line caused me some challenge lately.

In some of the mediation cases I have dealt with lately it was obvious that conflict management was the only possible outcome as there was very little commonality or desire for resolution from some of the parties.

 

Is Conflict Management Enough? 

 Certainly in a fairytale world the mediator would look to a magical ending to all conflicts, one that may be obvious to an outsider with a balcony view, often the clients look for the mediator to suggest solutions and outcomes rather than facilitate the participants in reaching an agreement. In recent experience it has been the case that the solution doesn't always lie in solving or ending the conflict but rather in learning to manage it and live with it, in essence to create the quiet we all desire in our lives.

It is by no means an easy process or for the faint hearted, the opening of many old sores and the sharing of hurts, feelings, interests and needs is not easily done. One of the main skills of the mediator is to create the environment where this sharing can be done in a safe and open manner, that in itself can be transformative, but it is also to recognise that a particular conflict may not be solvable. That doesn't mean the mediator should walk away or let the parties leave without trying to at least find a way the conflict can go on but without destroying lives.

I facilitated a mediation where there was no potential of agreement on the contentious issues, both parties had informed me at the outset that they wanted shuttle mediation and that they hoped to never see each other again. So deep was the hatred and mistrust of each other that it looked like mediation was impossible.

Negotiate Like an Athlete

on Thursday, 09 October 2014. Posted in General

Negotiate Like an Athlete

Recently I completed in another distance sports event, an adventure race that included running, kayaking, mountain running/climbing and cycling. It was only 46k so not that big a deal, except for one huge error on my behalf. I hadn’t prepared appropriately, or for long enough. This isn’t the first of these I have done, not even the first this summer, so what went wrong, what was different. Simply put preparation was inadequate and inappropriate.

Bat the BATNA out of the Park

on Tuesday, 07 October 2014. Posted in General

Bat the BATNA out of the Park

BATNA, the Best Alternative To A Negotiated Agreement, such a wonderful phrase, and quite simply the most important piece of information in any negotiation. This is the fall back position, it’s where you run to if the negotiation isn’t working and you know there is no way a deal can be made, so it’s the walk away from the table position.

Conflict is a Good Thing when you Manage it

on Wednesday, 17 September 2014. Posted in General

Conflict is a Good Thing when you Manage it

Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution are two titles given to what we mediators do, however I ask the question “is resolution the goal always”? I am tempted of course to say yes, the world would be a better place and we would all be happier without conflict. But is it true? The reality is that not all conflict is solvable and then, perhaps, conflict or dispute management would be a better description of what mediation aims to produce.

Benefits of Mediation in Infrastructural Development

on Wednesday, 10 September 2014. Posted in General

Benefits of Mediation in Infrastructural Development

Ireland has recently seen huge controversy over some major infrastructural developments, from wind farm construction, pylon erection, motorways, The North/South interchanger through to the Shell Oil development in Rossport Co Mayo. There is no doubt that further infrastructural change will be necessary to energise economic recovery and to maintain developments which keep Ireland at the competitive edge in the global economy.

Local Conflict is Global Conflict and Global Conflict is Local Conflict

on Friday, 05 September 2014. Posted in General

Local Conflict is Global Conflict and Global Conflict is Local Conflict

Currently attending this exciting conference facilitated by the Edward Kennedy Institute in the beautiful settings of the NUI Maynooth. The conference is officially opened by Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and special UN envoy on climate change. The theme of the conference is to establish best practice for finding creative responses to conflict through mediation and restorative practices.

The 3 Types of People in Negotiations

on Thursday, 26 June 2014. Posted in General

The 3 Types of People in Negotiations

Essentially there are three personality types in any negotiation, each with their own skillset and style, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. How they interact can have a great impact on the negotiation outcomes, and a skilled negotiator will learn to recognise each style in his counterpart and use it to his advantage. But they do not exist exclusively and there is an element of each style in every one of us, recognising that and controlling the triggers can be very influential in negotiations.

Irish Mediator Excels in Harvard Negotiations

on Wednesday, 18 June 2014. Posted in General

Irish Mediator Excels in Harvard Negotiations

A keen negotiator, with an interest in strategy, Tom Murray (Mii Approved Mediator) offers negotiations training and consultation for ongoing commercial negotiations. He has been working with the renowned Harvard Law School and it's Program on Negotiations, and recently attended the university and it's outstanding facilities.

What exactly are Negotiations

on Wednesday, 18 June 2014. Posted in General

What exactly are Negotiations

Negotiations can be tough, they can be complex processes, especially for those without the appropriate skill sets. But what exactly is a negotiation? Well it is defined as "Any communication between two or more persons with an intention to influence or persuade." Or as is easier to say, "it is the art of letting the other side have YOUR way."

Donegal Man's Success at Harvard University - Press Release

on Wednesday, 11 June 2014. Posted in Press Releases

Donegal Man's Success at Harvard University - Press Release

Local/Donegal Pharmacy owner, Tom Murray, takes great strides with his new venture, The Mediation Practice. Tom has worked as a pharmacist in his own business in Ramelton and Castlefinn for several years now, including receiving the prestigious award of Pharmacist of the Year 2013, and in that time he was a key negotiator with the Irish Pharmacy Union, during their negotiations with the HSE and the Minister for Health.

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