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The ranked actions of power, then rights, and then lastly interests, are illustrated by the all too common Conflict Escalation Spiral.


Ancient fight-or-flight ideas meant dealing with conflict through power.
This approach then progressed to resolution based on rights, rules, laws, or contracts.

The ‘conflict hierarchy’ is being turned upside down.
It is evolving in to a more constructive approach that focuses on interests and needs.

The days of power-wielding are numbered: command-and-control dispute resolution and the resulting win/lose situations are short-sighted with poor outcomes.

Likewise, settlements based on rights are no indication of mutual agreement. Stability and continuity are not guaranteed by answering to rights alone. Rules dictate the outcomes of rights-based settlements, but rules hardly address a disputant’s real interests.

That will occur when people are willing to negotiate conflict resourcefully. The human condition of our times is one that calls for a meeting of minds.

Good Conflict Management based on interests and needs offers those directly involved the opportunity to collaborate and become inspired by their own creative solutions, supported by long-lasting and secure agreement. In building consensus, there is commitment to the outcomes.

This “interest-based zone” or the “zone of opportunity” (“ZOO”) allows for control of outcomes which creates motivation – driving innovation and creativity towards concrete results.


The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress

~ Joseph Joubert

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