Are you your own worst enemy? Think about it

Wil­liam Ury has a lot to teach any­one in­volved in the me­di­a­tion process, writes John Stur­rock

The Scotsman - - Friends Of The Scotsman / Law And Legal Affairs -

n the morn­ing when I look at my­self in the mir­ror, I like to re­mind my­self that I am see­ing the per­son who is prob­a­bly go­ing to give me the most trou­ble that day, the op­po­nent who will be the big­gest ob­sta­cle to me get­ting what I truly want.”

I use these words at the start of most train­ing events I un­der­take, with a whole va­ri­ety of groups. It gets us all think­ing about what we have con­trol over and how easy it is to project blame on to oth­ers for those things for which we are in fact re­spon­si­ble.

The au­thor is Wil­liam Ury, the glob­ally recog­nised aca­demic and prac­ti­tioner in me­di­a­tion and negotiatio­n, who most re­cently was cen­trally in­volved in ne­go­ti­a­tions to end the long-run­ning war be­tween the Colom­bian gov­ern­ment and FARC guer­ril­las. The words come from his book, Get­ting to Yes with Your­self, a se­quel to the multi-mil­lion sell­ing and sem­i­nal Get­ting to Yes. Ev­ery­one who ne­go­ti­ates should read these books.

In May we have the real priv­i­lege of wel­com­ing Ury back to Ed­in­burgh. He first came here at my in­vi­ta­tion in 2009 and held us cap­ti­vated for a day in The Hub. He then joined us by video link for Collaborat­ive Scot­land’s Day of Dia­logue two weeks be­fore the in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum in Septem­ber 2014.

His Master Class on 14 May, again at The Hub, is a mustgo-to for those in­ter­ested in how to ne­go­ti­ate well. At this time of po­lit­i­cal un­cer­tainty, Ury’s con­cepts of BATNAS and WANTAS (Best/worst Al­ter­na­tive To a Ne­go­ti­ated Agree­ment) have en­tered main­stream po­lit­i­cal dis­course. What is the UK’S best al­ter­na­tive to a ne­go­ti­ated deal with the EU? And its worst? Where does such an anal­y­sis leave us?

There is so much more, in­clud­ing the need for le­git­i­mate and ob­jec­tive sup­port for po­si­tions taken and as­ser­tions made: “We’ll be bet­ter off if…” Will we? Please show us the ev­i­dence to help us to de­cide. There is also the crit­i­cal value of good re­la­tion­ships: even if you don’t like your op­po­site num­ber, you need to find a way to work with him or her if you want to make progress. And fo­cus­ing on in­ter­ests: “What do we re­ally need to achieve out of this? What is it re­ally about?”

Ury is com­ing to ad­dress the In­ter­na­tional Academy of Me­di­a­tors, which is hold­ing its an­nual in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence in Ed­in­burgh. This is a coup for Ed­in­burgh and for me­di­a­tion in Scot­land. We will wel­come 150 top me­di­a­tors from North Amer­ica, Aus­trala­sia, Rus­sia, Africa, and many parts of Eu­rope. We have a var­ied pro­gramme of speak­ers, work­shops and so­cial events. There will be op­por­tu­ni­ties for lo­cal prac­ti­tion­ers to mix with our guests in spe­cial pre-con­fer­ence work­shops. We shouldn’t miss the spe­cial, open to all, pre-con­fer­ence lec­ture by Pro­fes­sor Hal Abram­son on Nel­son Man­dela as Ne­go­tia­tor. This is based on an award-win­ning ar­ti­cle. De­tails are on Core’s web­site.

The con­fer­ence theme is Look­ing Out­ward – Me­di­a­tion: A New En­light­en­ment? Scep­tics may mut­ter but there is a real sense in this in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity that me­di­a­tion and the ideas which un­der­lie it has so much more to of­fer.

Many coun­tries which will be rep­re­sented in May have ex­pe­ri­enced ex­ten­sive, wellestab­lished and ma­ture use of me­di­a­tion. This is an op­por­tu­nity for Scot­land to look out­ward and learn, as well as to con­tribute.

A re­cent ses­sion of the Jus­tice Com­mit­tee in the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment ex­am­ined Al­ter­na­tive Dis­pute Res­o­lu­tion, of which me­di­a­tion is, af­ter di­rect negotiatio­n, the most es­tab­lished form when a third party is not pro­nounc­ing a de­ci­sion, and where peo­ple are en­cour­aged and en­abled to reach their own so­lu­tions. That sense of au­ton­omy and re­turn of power to the peo­ple who are ac­tu­ally af­fected by a dis­pute seems en­light­ened – and wor­thy of en­cour­age­ment and sup­port by pol­icy-mak­ers, ad­min­is­tra­tors, courts and prac­ti­tion­ers.

Wil­liam Ury would ap­prove. As he says: “Our choices make all the dif­fer­ence.” John Stur­rock is founder, CEO and Se­nior Me­di­a­tor, Core So­lu­tions: www.core-so­lu­tions.com

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