A technique taught in Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, by Roger Fisher and William L. Ury, is to focus on interest not positions. In addition to having a place for listing pros and cons, I would like to have a place for the listing of interest. If we are going to make progress sometimes we have to stop listening to the things people are saying, and try to figure out what their motivation is, and what makes them want to say those things. It will often turn out that the real reason someone supports something has nothing to do with the arguments that they try to use to advance their ideas.
Members of a country, business, or trade organization could list their interest. Businesses could list their interest of low taxes, and good infrastructure. Psychologist could compile a list of all of the interest of a family. A slight variation on this would be to allow people to list their goals.
These list of solutions, interest, and goals would become pretty long. If written on paper they may become a big mess. However the internet offers great opportunities in the organization of data. People could be allowed to vote on weather or not they think certain interest or solutions to a problem are valid. The interest that are the most valid could rise to the top. This would make the site more user friendly. However those interest that are not generally accepted will still be presented on the site, for those who are concerned primarily about the interest of the minority.
The technology behind the internet will will make such things as responding to a specific solution, interest, or goal will be possible. The evaluation process could be used to let the site users evaluate the responses that people make. This will allow a truly dynamic give and take between different positions. If the evaluation process thrives then this dynamic give and take will constantly get better. Those positions solutions, interest, and goals that are described clearly, and are truly valid and logical will get the most acceptance.
However traditional problems may arise between people as the work their way to the real issue, and deal with road blocks in the dynamic exchange of ideas. On advantage of this web site is the natural way that the people are separated from the problems. You are not arguing with a person you are arguing with an idea. Hopefully you will not be arguing with a slopy idea, with lots of road blocks, you will be working the best but most valid idea.
One way that we could direct people in the way of evaluating solutions, interest, and goals in the best way. We could ask people if the way the solution, interest, or goal was worded might cause people problems. Perhaps someone worded their position in a partisan way, or maybe used hostile emotions. Each of these separate issues could be a plus or minus, that sends your idea up or down the slide. Questions could be asked such as, is this action consistent with principles? Yes or no.
I would also have a section of my web site designated to the hottest issues. This issues would be the ones in which violence is taking place. This would help focus interest on the issues that need the most help.
One of the principles of Getting to Yes to to work together with your advisory on the problem, instead of working against each other. For this purpose we will rarely frame conflict of group a vs. b. However there are some things that could be done in this method that may help people resolve conflict.
Assuming that on the web site we have already listed all of the interest of every party, we can go forward with specific conflicts between groups. For instance in the case of the Israel and her Palestinian neighbors we could have a section on the site specifically about that conflict. This enable people to list such things as common goals. Both the Israelis and the Palestinian people want economic security, and other fundamental needs.
Some typical motivations are listed below:
- Financial gain
- Liberal guilt
- Moral clarity
- Party Affiliation Groupism
- Political laziness and issue crossover
- Self delusion
- The desire to be seen as unique
I took a conflict resolution class, that taught mediation techniques. I highly recommended "Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without giving in" by Roger Fisher and Willium Ury. Chapter 3 is called "Focus on Interest not positions". I don't want to repeat their arguments, but just want to state that we will never make progress until we get to the root cause of a conflict. From the book, "Interest motivate people; they are the silent movers behind the hubbub of positions. Your positions something you have decided upon. Your interest are what caused you to so decide."Again, whenever their is disagreement we have to get at the root cause of the disagreement. To do this we have to understand common, and opposing interest. If we just give a place for people to try and brainstorm, and understand these interest, we will make a lot of progress.Please tell me what you think! Should we have additional categories for "common" and "opposing" interest?