For over 30 years I helped people resolve conflicts as a mediator and arbitrator. Unfortunately, many of these interventions occurred late in the conflict after much of the damage had been done. I saw families and friendships torn apart, business go bankrupt and fortunes spent on litigation.
We are always going to have difficult negotiations. If not handled properly they can lead to a full-blown conflict. There is no way to avoid negotiations and conflicts entirely. They are an inevitable part of a full, rich life, but if I can give one piece of advice it is to plan and prepare for your negotiations early before they spiral out of control and consume time, money and energy.
The first thing you need to do is recognize that you have a potential conflict brewing as early as possible. A telltale sign is when someone does something or fails to do something that blocks your access to what really matters to you. When feelings of anger, frustration, or betrayal trigger thoughts of fault and blame the story you tell yourself and those around you traps you in conflict.
At this early stage you must also be willing to look at your own story objectively and consider your own part in creating the conflict. You can certainly get help from your family and friends but remember you want their objective observations and support for your preparation. You DO NOT want them to buy in to your “poor me” story of fault and blame.
In my next blog I will share a great tool for un-packing conflict stories.
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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: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.davidgouldmediation.com