The publication “Getting to Yes” is regarded as one of the bestselling books on negotiation. At the time of its publication in 1981, it provided revolutionary ideas on collaborative decision-making and was founded on the concept of the best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA) during negotiations (Fisher & Ury, 1983). Still, the text has failed to change how most people approach decision making. Many people tend to have rigid negotiation strategies when dealing with friends, family, and co-workers. While many people desire to collaborate with others when making deals, the majority find themselves in aggressive negotiations over and over again. In such cases, an individual’s winning strategy comes at the expense of the other party which is an exact contradiction of the mutual gain approach found in the Getting to Yes book. However, Ury (1991) found that one of the greatest challenges is the individual’s lack of trust in other people. Although everyone can believe they are collaborative and trusting, the majority tend to see their counterparts to be only interested in winning. That is the attitude that makes negotiators be so much defensive leading to poor negotiation outcomes.
Furthermore, people tend to focus on their counterparts in negotiations, rather than concentrating on the issue at hand. Research also shows that many people are not just interested in negotiations. All these challenges sum up to the fact that negotiation is based on trust and interest. However, to ensure successful negotiations, individuals should change their attitudes not only by acting with honesty and transparency but also encouraging others to practice this approach. Clearly, simply talking about the need for collaboration is a groundbreaking approach to open a negotiation that leads to successful outcomes. In fact, negotiators can gain more value in negotiations by avoiding zero-sum games and developing relationship founded on trust and cooperation. Even though Getting to Yes has provided great insights on effective negotiation approaches, the main thing that makes all the difference is the individual’s mentality toward the process and the other party.
The legal systems, lawyers, and courtrooms are everything that is most feared by everyone. Owing to the complexity and related costs with any lawsuit, individuals have found legal alternatives to the otherwise complicated and costly legal systems that provide favorable and binding solutions to legal conflicts. Mediation and arbitration are two of the most commonly utilized systems owing to their simplicity than most alternatives to legal systems in solving disputes (Davidovich, 2002). In many cases, mediation is practiced between parties that are still on good terms with one another. While mediation seeks to inform the parties of the perceived injustices, the mediator also has a chance to give opinions regarding those concerns. As such, the mediator is able to create a common ground between the parties upon which both parties must agree to the outcomes of the mediation. Although arbitration also serves to find common ground between conflicting parties through a third party known as an arbitrator, it tends to focus on creating its own judgment to end the dispute (Roberts, 2002). In that sense, arbitration is most useful when the relationship between the disputants is hostile, and any possibility of reaching an agreement between them seems impossible.
Mediation is mostly used to find acceptable results to both parties that can maintain or even improve the relationship between them. For instance, a business and a customer who are having a disagreement but intend to preserve their relationship in the future can use mediation to reach an agreeable solution to both parties, after which they can reject if they find the results to be unfair. On the other hand, arbitration has the same conclusiveness of court processes and can finalize similar decisions as losing a legal case (Roberts, 2002). For instance, if the business does not care about the future relationship with the customer, and does not mind damaging its reputation, arbitration would be the most appropriate choice. However, businesses that are not concerned only with their future relationships with disputed clients but are also seeking to protect their reputations for reaching acceptable solutions with their clients will most likely utilize mediation. On a different perspective, mediation is commonly utilized in most non-criminal cases. However, even some non-violent criminal cases such as those involving verbal harassment can best be solved through mediation. For example, an argument with a neighbor over the brightness of their outside lights hardly warrants a lawsuit. In such a case, mediation can be the best option to end the conflict and preserve the relationship between both parties.
Mediation can be performed in three different styles; facilitative, evaluative, and transformative mediation (Ury, 1991). There appear to be more concerns regarding transformative and evaluative mediation than facilitative style. Although facilitative approach appears to be acceptable to most people, some find the style more time-consuming and complicated. However, the evaluative approach is perceived as being biased and coercive. Transformative mediation, on the other hand, has attracted much criticism for being too hypothetical and not useful enough for court and organization matters. On the several occasions, I have participated in mediations resulting from misunderstandings; it is clear that mediation offers people a productive opportunity to strengthen their relationships and reflect on their attitudes without judgment. In any case, mediation is well suited to provide an alternative system to the less flexible legal systems.
Davidovich, N. (2002). Mediation: A Process to Regain Control of Your Life. Retrieved April 2017, from http://www.mediate.com/articles/Davidovich.cfm
Fisher, R., & Ury, W. (1983). Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In. New York: Penguin Books.
Roberts, M. (2002). Resolving Disputes through Employment Mediation. Mediate.com.
Ury, W. (1991). Getting Past No. New York: Bantam Books.
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