A recent article in the New York Times discussed a Dutch entrepreneur’s idea for a divorce hotel. Couples intending to divorce would check in and a have a marathon sesssion and leave on Sunday with a divorce agreement. When people are in conflict decisions usually take some time. I’m doubtful that this idea will have much traction in the United States where he is looking to market such a concept.
This month’s newsletter is the final in our five part series on conflict strategies.
Collaboration is a process whereby the parties attempt to expand the pie to fully satisfy all parties’ concerns. The process of creating more joint satisfaction is called creating value. This requires committing one’s time and energy to unearthing what is behind articulated positions. Collaboration is sometimes referred to as the ideal alternative; however, collaboration takes a good deal of time and resources to completely work through. While competition, compromise and accommodation are win-lose strategies collaboration has the potential for creating greater value for all parties and producing win-win outcomes. It is for this reason that collaboration is an integrative approach to conflict resolution.
Benefits of collaboration include strengthened relationships, high quality decisions and enhanced communication among team members. Because it is a time consuming process it is generally well suited to people and organizations in long term committed relationships. Through collaboration, the relationship and the content goals of an organization are enhanced. If you are a leader and you have some big decisions to make, such as whether to move your office to a new location, you might consider a collaborative process so that you can gather diverse input on this important and costly decision. On the other hand, if it is a smaller matter, such as replacing a piece of office equipment you might just make a unilateral decision without consulting staff.
Collaboration calls for a change in mindset. Conciliatory remarks that are supportive, that show flexibility and a willingness to consider other ideas are examples of collaborative tactics. Your gut response may be competitive and adversarial. So instead of going on the attack against a fellow team member or partner, try the following:
Since collaboration is time consuming it should be used for vital issues that are critical to an organization. If investment in the relationship is low, it’s not worthwhile to invest in collaboration. In addition, collaboration poses a risk in that it opens you to being vulnerable. Be cautious of people who use collaboration in manipulative ways. For example, if someone accuses you of being unreasonable if you choose a different strategy or don’t elect to collaborate, then they are not really collaborating. They’re not embracing collaborative behavior styles. It takes two to tango!!
Ellen F. Kandell is a certified professional mediator and attorney with over 30 years of public and private sector experience. She provides mediation, group facilitation and training to diverse, national clients. Get in touch with her via email, LinkedIn, Twitter, or give her a call at 301-588-5390.