Conflict: Difference Between “Interests” & “Positions”

A good mediator looks for your interest, not your position. What’s the difference between your interests and position in a conflict? 

Your position in a conflict is an outward expression. It’s more of a superficial statement of what you’re trying to do. Positions are often a mask you may wear to hide their true human interests. Your interest in a conflict has more to do with your emotions, feeling heard, and how you want to collaborate. Your real interests are likely easier to obtain than what your stated positions are. For example, in a financial conflict, your interests may be just to break even so you’re not in the red, although your position is that you deserve all of the funds at once. Especially in a larger financial conflict, it’s more likely to break even than it would be to get refunded everything immediately. 

The other party in the conflict has positions and interests too, it’s the role of the mediator to assess and identify these interests and positions to ensure a balanced resolution. 

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