Prevent or resolve a dispute
Negotiation is the basic approach used in all dispute prevention and resolution processes.
It is based on voluntary communication and discussions between two or more people with the goal of settling a dispute.
Negotiating alone or with assistance
You can negotiate with the other party to a dispute either alone or via a representative, such as a professional negotiator or lawyer (in which case costs may apply).
A negotiated agreement has the same value as a contract
There are no formal rules or compulsory processes for a negotiation. You and the other party can set your own rules for the negotiation and the terms of your agreement. However, once you have signed an agreement, it has the same effect as a contract.
Types of disputes suitable for negotiation
Negotiation can be used in various areas of your everyday life, including:
- interpersonal relations;
- relations with neighbours;
- business relations;
- employment relations;
- relations with public organizations.
Cooperative negotiation relies on cooperation from all parties involved. For this reason, it generally leads to a win-win solution.
It is based on:
- a determination of the needs and interests of each party, rather than on the defence of a fixed position;
- discussion, collaboration, and the exchange of all relevant information;
- good relations between individuals;
- a search for original, customized solutions that offer benefits for all parties.
Cooperative negotiation is also known as reasoned negotiation, interest-based negotiation or integrative negotiation.
Example: Two neighbours cannot agree about a broken fence
Luke and Monica each claim that the other is responsible for the poor state of the fence that has separated their two properties for the last 15 years. Neither of them built the fence—it was there when they bought their houses 14 years ago. Each has always believed that the other was responsible for its maintenance.
Despite their disagreement, their interests and needs go well beyond the question of the fence, because as neighbours they regularly help each other out. They both want to find a long-term solution to their problem in order to maintain their good relationship.
After a few informal discussions about their respective needs and expectations, Luke and Monica negotiate more specific rules about their cohabitation and the steps that they will both take to maintain the fence in the future.
From now on, they will both be responsible for reporting any problem with the fence as quickly as possible. They will then be able to find a solution before any lasting damage occurs. In addition, Monica will paint the fence every three years, with paint and brushes provided by Luke.
Because the existing fence is damaged beyond repair, Luke and Monica will shop together for a new fence that meets their needs, and will share the cost of having it installed. Last, they will summarize their agreement in writing, in order to have a record of each party's commitments and responsibilities.
Last update: January 31, 2022