What is International Conflict in Negotiation?
Successfully resolving international conflict can pave the way for progress in future negotiations
International conflict often endures because disputants and would-be peacemakers lack the political will to make difficult choices that could prove unpopular to their constituents and other observers.
Sometimes these disputes are left to fester for years, even decades, until parties decide there is something to be gained from reaching dispute resolution. Here are some tips for breaking through international conflict and finding success with negotiations.
Build goodwill. If large problems loom on the horizon, consider starting with a relatively straightforward issue to gain confidence and trust.
Agree on a common framework. A common framework not only serves to guide parties in conflict but also effectively “traps” them into behaving consistently.
Use active listening skills. Because active listening enhances understanding, it can be particularly effective when negotiating through interpreters or when one of the parties is negotiating in a foreign language.
Try constructive ambiguity. Constructive ambiguity involves deliberately replacing loaded words and terms with more benign language.
Choose negotiators with care. Never underestimate the importance of individuals who can set a tone of trust and empathy without conceding negotiation points.
Attend to minor matters. Negotiators in international conflict are often frustrated to hear complaints about minor issues. But seemingly petty issues typically are symbols of larger, critical issues, they deserve attention.
Be creative. Ingenuity is needed “in abundant supply” to resolve tense conflicts. Adding novel ideas and issues to the table is a powerful form of creativity.
View resolution as a journey. Because the two sides in a lingering dispute have difficulty seeing each other’s pain, international conflict resolution is best viewed as a journey rather than an event.
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