We may not always realise it but we are involved in many negotiations on a daily basis. Whether it be haggling down a shopkeeper, deciding who will buy the next round on a night out, or even trying to get your kids to tidy their room, there can be a limitless number of possible outcomes in every scenario.
Having said that, we can categorise the resolution into one of a handful of types, one of them being a win-win outcome. Unlike the more common win-lose outcome, where only one side benefits, both sides’ needs must be fully met in a mutually beneficial and satisfactory way.
And whilst this seems ideal on paper, it is often difficult to achieve. When you consider that the people involved may be at opposite ends of the personality spectrum and resent each other, it can be almost impossible for them to take into account the other’s person’s needs and objectives.
In addition, our desire to be competitive can also get in the way. We may feel that competing and fighting for what we want may bring success, or we may just resist and be difficult just to spite the other party.
As such, it can be hard to change this mindset into one of collaboration, where the aim is to find mutual benefit and the best possible outcome for everyone involved.
This is where mediation comes in though. Unlike other forms of dispute resolution, such as litigation and arbitration, which both decide winners, mediation’s sole aim is to promote a fair discussion and come up with an agreement that works for everyone.
And, besides all parties getting what they want, there are also a number of other benefits to this outcome:
By being encouraged to share their different sides of the story, participants can begin to find out about each other’s objectives in the conflict. Not only does this contribute to finding a win-win outcome, it can also help to build an understanding between them.
Due to the creative approach of factoring in the other person’s needs (which usually isn’t done!), the parties may start to come up with suggestions that wouldn’t have even been considered before. This can lead to unique ideas that can bring about better communication and possibly even an agreement.
Better results and decisions
With more than one equal input, and all of their needs being met, we can assume that anything taken away from the mediation will be more beneficial. There will be less chance of one of the parties being harmed in any way and, due to all suggestions being double-checked and refused if they don’t work for them, we can also expect it to be fairer.
Commitment to the outcome
And, if an agreement is formed, the parties are more likely to commit to it. Of course, if they can see that it will benefit them, they will be more motivated to uphold it and continue the benefits indefinitely.
Future-proofing the relationship
By experiencing this (most likely) new approach to resolution, it can be a useful learning experience for the future: by seeing how it should be dealt with, the participants may then use a similar approach if future conflict does occur. This helps to improve the longevity of their working relationship, where they can be confident of further win-win outcomes should the situation arise.
For these reasons, mediation stands alone in the field of conflict resolution as the only one that aims for a mutually beneficial outcome. It is also why it is so popular, for both participants and referrers alike, and so effective in repairing the interpersonal relationship behind conflict.
And, at the end of the day, all we really want is to get our own way! So, if this can be done for everyone at the same time, can there really be a better outcome?