international conflict resolution
What is International Conflict Resolution?
How can we convince a counterpart that concessions we view to be essential—whether on financial, moral, or other grounds—will result in a successful international conflict resolution?
Attempts at international conflict resolution are often hindered by disputants complaining about minor losses while overlooking their larger gains. But former Prime Minister of Great Britain, Tony Blair, advises against making such value judgments.
Because seemingly petty issues typically are symbols of larger, critical issues, they deserve full attention. Unfortunately, there is a persistent fear that our negotiation counterparts will take advantage of any concessions and compromise we make. As a result, many negotiators refuse to make any at all, and many international conflict resolution talks end up stalled.
To further complicate matters, cultural and language barriers may play into talks. To overcome these obstacles, international conflict resolution is best viewed as a journey rather than an event.
To begin deescalating a conflict, choose negotiators with care. Never underestimate the importance of individuals who can set a tone of empathy without conceding negotiation points. Furthermore, keep sensitive negotiations as private as possible, and replace loaded words and terms with more benign language.
And don’t overlook the single most important aspect of international conflict resolution: building trust.
If your counterpart is new to you, or if a past attempt at international conflict resolution hasn’t gone their way, you can’t expect them to trust your motives. Give the other side space to air their concerns and past grievances, and apologize and make amends for any actions of yours that created mistrust.
To learn more, and discover how overcome cultural barriers in International Negotiation: Cross-Cultural Communication Skills for International Business Executives, from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.
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