The Third Side: The Provider

Limiting Conflict by Meeting Human Needs

A Provider's Guide to the Beyond Intractability Website

  • Are you someone who shares resources and knowledge freely?
  • When people are fearful do you try to help them feel more secure?
  • In your daily life do you seek to empower others as a part of your modus operandi?

If you answered "yes" to one or more of the above questions, then you are probably a provider. And if you are a provider, then this Web page is designed to make you more effective.

Who are Providers?

Providers are people who help others attain their basic human needs. This includes fundamentals such as food and shelter, but it also includes intangible needs, such as identitysecuritylove, and respect. In deep-rooted, intractable conflicts, one (or often all) sides lack at least one, and often many of these fundamental needs. Since needs are so basic, they cannot be bargained away. Rather, people will go to great lengths and endure great pain in an effort to attain their needs. Providers are people who help in this quest, which can have a profound impact on a conflict.

You don't have to be rich to be a provider, nor do you have to give away a great deal of what you have. Often the frustrated needs are intangible — things like respect and security. By respecting your opponents, you are providing them with a resource that will empower them to behave toward you and your group in a more constructive way than they might otherwise do. By offering security to the other side, they will then feel less threatened, and then are likely to threaten you less in response.

For More Information

Much of the material on this user guide is drawn from Thanks to William Ury and Joshua Weiss for giving us permission to republish their material here.