Negotiation Tips for resolving conflicts.


Negotiation is an Important Skill

Negotiation is an important skill in mediation or any conflict resolution. It is needed for the parties to come to an agreement and thereby resolve a conflict.  It doesn’t matter if the conflict developed at home or at work, or in any leadership situation.  

Separate People from the Problem

When negotiating, the first step is to separate people from the problem.  When negotiating, remember you’re dealing with people who have their own unique needs, emotions and perceptions.  Some conflicts are based on differences in thinking and perceptions. These conflicts may exist mainly in peoples’ minds. It helps for each party to put themselves into the other’s shoes so they can understand each others point of view.

Differences in Perceptions

Identify and openly discuss differences in perceptions, being careful not to place blame. In addition, recognize and understand the other side’s emotions as well as your own.


People often confuse interests with positions. An interest may be reducing litter in roadside ditches. There are many possible ways of addressing this interest. One might be the position of mandatory recycling. Another position might be a deposit on bottles and cans. Still another could be organizing a clean-up day.

Focus on interests, not positions. Focusing on interests, rather than positions, makes it possible to come up with better agreements. Even when people stand on opposite positions, they usually have a few shared interests.

It takes time and effort to identify interests. Groups may not even be clear about their own interests. It helps to write down each group’s interests as they are discovered. It helps to ask why others take the positions or make the decisions they do. Partners will have multiple interests. Interests involving important human needs (such as security, economic well-being, a sense of belonging, recognition and control over one’s life) are difficult to negotiate.

Develop optional solutions.  When you are developing optional solutions that meet the interests of all sides, try to meet as many of each side’s interests as possible. Start by inviting all sides to brainstorm ideas before reaching a decision.

**For the last decade I’ve been involved with leadership development of tomorrow’s leaders.  Using my expertise, I am training the youth leaders in conflict resolution.  This blog is adapted from my training materials. 


Ken StrongmanAbout the Author: Ken Strongman ( has years of experience and a growing national reputation as a mediator and arbitrator.  He has successfully resolved more than a thousand disputes in the fields of construction defects, real estate, intellectual property, and employment.  He is also a Mediator and Arbitrator for FINRA.

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