An interest-based conflict resolution process includes attention to the following steps:
Step 1: Establish a Positive Environment
Determine who the parties are.
Provide a sufficient amount of time and a convenient time for meeting.
Select location, preferably a neutral setting.
Set the ground rules (respect, listen attentively while others are talking).
Express motivation to resolve differences.
Step 2: Define the Problem and Clarify the Issues
Each participant provides a brief personal statement outlining his/her point of view.
Participants practice active listening when others are speaking.
Summarize the essence of what has been heard to ensure correct understanding (perhaps paper or even a flip chart is necessary).
Form a neutral agenda that does not assign blame.
Step 3: Determine and Clarify Interests
Actively consider each person’s interests.
Use active listening skills. Listen to the other party(s), then restate interests (reframe, paraphrase).
Ask open-ended questions for clarification.
Use “I” statements.
Be descriptive; avoid being judgmental.
Use and encourage assertive language. Avoid both passive and aggressive language.
Step 4: Generate Solutions and Problem Solve (Seek a Solution)
Summarize interests; clarify what that means in terms of desired outcome or goals.
Brainstorm together for a mutually generated list of options (not all have to be acceptable).
Discuss alternatives; each person may select an alternative for use if agreement is not possible.
If a solution is not becoming apparent, you may need more information, more trust or more energy; need to discontinue talk and come back to the discussion after further exploration of interests; agree to disagree, or agree that you cannot reach an agreement at the moment and set a time for future discussion; or need to generate more options.
Ensure fairness—meet interests of all parties.
Evaluate options for legitimacy (practicality and possibility).
Step 5: Develop Action Plan
Develop an action plan to reach consensus: answer who, what, when, where and how, and work out the details.
Seek commitment and closure:
Check assumptions/clarify understandings.
Identify the potential for agreement; propose closure on that basis.
Record commitments in writing: who, what, when.
Double-check to be sure the solution is both realistic and legitimate.
Step 6: Follow Up Action and Evaluate
Establish criteria and conditions for follow-up and review.