Assisted Dialogue and Negotiation

Strategy Overview

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“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
– African proverb

The general arc of this strategy is comprised of two broad phases: a “Forum Phase” in which people are encouraged to effectively communicate with each other and a “Problem Solving Phase” in which they are encouraged to negotiate. As multiple issues are worked through, the sequence of the dialogue can and must stay flexible.

The work of the Forum Phase involves:

  • Creating comfort with the process
  • Enabling good communication
  • Reducing emotional heat when it is an impediment to productive interchange
  • Establishing a climate of trust and rapport
  • Enhancing working relationships
  • Deepening multilateral insights and understandings
  • Allowing a full expression of the conflict, most especially the hopes and fears
  • Creating a relevant and useful foundation of facts that can springboard into the Problem Solving Phase

The work of the Problem Solving Phase involves:

  • Creating a “we against problem” (rather than an “us against them”) focus
  • Creating the momentum and political will to resolve matters
  • Generating and analyzing options
  • Narrowing differences
  • Discovering possible trades
  • Negotiating potentially optimum solutions
  • Managing or saving face
  • Choosing best options and an agreeable pathway forward
  • Reaching trustable agreements

Depending on the kind of problem the collaborative process specifically seeks to address, there are six kinds of possible deliverables:

  • A transactional agreement
  • A guidance to other decision makers
  • A joint fact finding
  • A plan
  • A record of discussions
  • An explicit alliance or partnership

The highest goal is always to produce substantive, procedural, and relational results that are more valuable than would have otherwise been achieved in the minds of everyone involved.

Stage 1: Reconnaissance & Entrée
The primary goal of this stage is to build “the table” and get the process organized.

Stage 2: Convening
The overarching goal of this stage is to bring people together and formally start the process.

Stage 3: Dialogue & Information Exchange
Through discussion and deliberation, group members create a pertinent information base and sharpen their collective clarity on the problem to be solved.

Stage 4: Clarification Of The Trade Zone
The primary goal of this stage is to array and evaluate options and position the group for making choices.
Stage 5: Decision Making
The paramount goal of this stage is to reach an agreeable and acceptable conclusion.

Stage 6: Memorialization
In this stage, decisions are finalized and the collaboration is brought to a close.

Related Examples

Related Tools/Resources

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