Why negotiate?

This is Conflict Resolution week in BC and I will be posting several blogs over the week highlighting some conflict resolution themes from my work as a mediator.  Here is my first entry.

In any dispute, there are alternatives to negotiating.  According to Fisher an d Ury (1991) there are best (BATNA) and worst (WATNA) alternatives to negotiating an agreement.  Before deciding to negotiate, it is helpful to be clear on one’s BATNA and WATNA.

In divorce mediation, going to court is often identified by people as the worst alternative due to high costs, time delays, and stress.  Other WATNAs could be not having a close relationship with the children, or emotional harm to the children due to the parental conflict.  A best alternative may be family law arbitration due to less time delays, and potentially lower costs.  In this case, neither the BATNA or WATNAs are ideal, which may mean that negotiating an agreement has a lot of benefit for the parents and children.  Additional benefits to negotiating are increased compliance with negotiated agreements and developing an ongoing productive co-parenting relationship.

So when you have a dispute, consider what you have to gain from negotiating.  For more information on negotiation and mediation, see The Benefits of Mediation for Separating Couples.  and Collaborative Communication Tips.