Mediation is simpler than negotiation

All people have negotiated at least once in our lives, from simple negotiations like trying to get a better bargain. Even in these simple negotiations are hard, trying to persuade the other person to agree to our demands is difficult, even impossible.

“negotiations” by hectorhannibal https://flickr.com/photos/hectorhannibal/3121816753 is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND

Negotiation involves a discussion between parties so they can agree to certain terms that benefit both. This sounds simple in theory, but when we negotiate, we tend to look at it as a competition, where you try to obtain the best from the other party, this is the main problem. 

The art of negotiation

Negotiation is a concept so difficult that involves o many variables that some call it an art, even to the point that a simple google search responds with several courses that attempt to teach you this art.

“NYC – Metropolitan Museum of Art – Wolf and Fox Hunt” by wallyg https://flickr.com/photos/wallyg/1700783249 is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND

In this search, I encounter an article from Alison Brooks (an MBA professor at Harvard), where she discusses an activity of negotiation between her students. She describes the importance of the feelings and the approaches to negotiation, as an outsider to all this “art” is fascinating to read about it.

Mediation is simpler

But, what about us simple mortals, who the art of negotiation may seem to difficult to be able to accomplish?

For these cases, there exists the mediation to help solve the negotiation problems.

Mediation is the way to solve negotiation problems between parties. Mediation consists of a third party joining the discussions. The conditions are that this third party is entirely neutral, and both first parties agree to this mediator.

The mediator will look forward to both parties to agree on something that benefits both of them. Because of being neutral, both parties can agree that the mediator will not try to obtain a benefit for the other part.

Some memories

My father works a lot with the judicial system here in Guadalajara, and in 2016 he took a course on alternative methods for conflict resolution, I don’t know why, but he invited me to that course. One of these methods was mediation, and in the judicial system saw it as an alternative for the traditional trials. I still have some notes (in Spanish) of this course, which cover the advantage of these methods over the conventional system.

Why is this relevant in software development?

“Software Development Community 020” by Michael Kappel https://flickr.com/photos/m-i-k-e/9234828638 is licensed under CC BY-NC

This being the blog of a software developer, maybe weird to anyone reading this. But this type of conflict solving method is essential to anything that involves people’s relationships. 

Typically software development is done in teams with some kind of management and is impossible to avoid conflicts in all the development cycle of a project, so it’s essential to understand these techniques to overcome the problems.

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