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This the 5th part in a series of blogs designed to help you prepare for your own negotiations. Find the first blog here. 

You have done your homework and unpacked the stories. Now you can compare the stories to identify the real areas of conflict. Challenge your assumptions about their intentions and your own.

Focus on the facts and consider what you can do on your own and perhaps in collaboration with them to confirm the facts prior to negotiating. For example, if property value is an issue get an appraisal.

I mediated a conflict between a lakeside community and an Oil and Gas firm that in part involved the landowner’s belief that the company’s seismic activity caused a fish die off. As part of our preparation Alberta Environment was consulted and was able to prove that the fish die off occurred before the Seismic activity.

Now consider what is most important for each side. These interests and needs are the cornerstones of your options for resolution.

You can look at your own positions and clarify what interests and needs of yours are being met by your positions. You can make your best guess as to their positions and their underlying interests and needs. Think about some options for the future that might meet the goals of both sides.

We all negotiate to see our interests and needs met and we are most likely to be successful when the other side also gets their interests and needs met. You are now well prepared to explore options that meet everyone’s interests rather than debate the merits of opposing positions.

In my next blog I explore how to get the other party to the negotiation table and what to do when you get there.

For more information about the design of your mediation please contact us at:

Your questions and comments are welcome and appreciated.

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David Gould (LLB, QC, C Med) has helped hundreds of lawyers and their clients – business and government organizations, and individuals – in conflict situations to co-create solutions for the future. For more information, contact: or visit