Negotiation Preparation and Conflict Analysis

William Zartman

Jacob Blaustein Professor of International Organizations and Conflict Resolution, and Director of Conflict Management at the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University

Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003

This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).

A: Be clear about the facts of the situation, is one that comes up very often. Keep your eye on the ball of your goal. And at the same time, be aware of the other parties' goals, third. Then fourth, try to find a way in which you can find the 2 goals compatible rather than looking at them as competing with each other. Reframe if necessary or compensate rather than looking at relative gains, that is, zero sum types of outcomes where your goals can only be achieved at the expense of the other. Those are some to begin with.

Q: That first one, about being clear about the facts, who's facts?

A: Be aware of the facts as seen by both sides. One of the things that I think is important I need to step back a sentence. Formulation takes place within a 3-phase understanding of negotiation, which begins with Diagnosis, then Formulation and then getting to details and things. Diagnosis means asking what kind of conflict is this and what are the facts about this conflict? Then asking each of these questions about both my side and then the other side, so what is the other side as what kind of conflict this is? And here is another piece I think is important for negotiators, what is this conflict like? I think people who get locked up in the idiosyncrasies of the conflict see very clearly how you couldn't possibly get out of it. Its only people who look at conflicts in a comparable way are able to see how other conflicts like this provided some way out. Some kind of suggestions of solutions that may not have or may have worked, one may ask, what paths should we not pursue, and what paths should we pursue? What is this conflict like? What precedence are there for solving conflicts like this one? All these are a part of the bundle of facts of understanding of a conflict, and I also mean that the technical facts. If this is a conflict about borders then, what's the terrain like? What are the operative international treaties? What's international law that governs borders? What can you really do on the ground? Where is that river? And so on.