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Interests rather than positions

Good Group Tips

In principle, when someone comes into a meeting or a negotiation with an already established position, it limits prospects for creative, innovative, win-win solutions. When I state my position on an issue early in the discussion, my focus thereafter becomes defending my position and trying to persuade others to agree with it. I might even get side-tracked into defending my pride rather than considering what’s best for the group.

On the other hand, if I’m able to speak clearly about my interests (what I would like to get out of the issue without attachment to a particular way of getting it) and I’m able to listen openly to others’ interests, we have a much better chance of all getting what we want.

Practical Tip: Focus first on what you really want rather than how to get it. If you are leaning toward a particular solution, peel back a layer, dig a bit deeper, and ask, “What desire in me does this solution attempt to satisfy?” Ask yourself, “What is my fundamental interest here?” Identify what you are really interested in, give it words, and speak the words to others. Listen carefully to their words about their interests. As a group, hear and understand all interests before crafting solutions.

Positions spoken early invite argument. Interests spoken clearly invite win-win, creative solutions.

– Craig Freshley

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4 thoughts on “Interests rather than positions

  1. As a student of sociocracy, I see here the difference between presenting a proposal to a decision-making group, as opposed to the decision-making group forming the proposal together. I think we do the former to save time. I suspect forming a proposal as a group is time well-spent, may lead to a better outcome, and may be more time-effucient in the end.

  2. I think asking good questions as a facilitator helps people get to interests. Help them peel back the onion.

  3. Talking about where we are going rather than how we are getting there, really does more often enable compromise and creativity.

  4. This is so hard to get a group to understand. It is also hard as a facilitator to work with a group when people hold on to their solution (position).

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