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Building Blocks of Agreement and Disagreement

Building Blocks of Agreement and Disagreement

Author: marlene johnson

At the end of this tutorial, the learner will understand that each point agreement builds on itself and increases the chances of resolution, while the opposite is true for each disagreement.

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Whenever we make decisions, we are always looking at how we can maximize our gains and minimize our losses. So, every decision we make, we're doing that consciously and subconsciously. So, how does this play out in a conflict resolution process, where you have two disputing parties coming together?

Well, I'm Marlene, and that's what I'd like to discuss with you today in this tutorial. Of course, in the conflict resolution process, each party is also aware of gains, and gains of course, we can define as obtaining something of value, and they're aware of loss, which is losing something valued, and they each one to maximize their gains and minimize their losses.

Now, the process itself, offers them many opportunities for decisions, and each decision of course is an opportunity to agree on something or disagree. So, let's look at how that might play out. We have two people, say they're roommates, have been in conflict over use of the kitchen.

The kitchen is often dirty. There's things missing in the refrigerator, who cleans up, who cooks, who shops. How do they communicate about this? You can see there's a lot of various issues here that need to be put on the table and talked about. Some of them are tangible. Some of them are intangible. Perhaps how they're communicating about these issues.

So, once the issues are out, if they can come to even one small agreement. You know, let's put something on the refrigerator where we write notes to each other about what we're out of. So, maybe we're not communicating with each other well, or let's have a meeting on a Saturday morning and talk about x,y, and z.

So, they're starting to make an agreement perhaps of how they'll communicate. That's one small agreement. Each time there's an agreement like this, a positive step forward, it's evidence of a possibility for gain. Each time there's a disagreement on something. Of course, it's evidence that there could be a loss here. So, its constantly could feel a little bit, little bit like a teeter totter.

Gains and losses. Agreements, disagreements. Even if they're small things. But the good news here is that you can gain momentum in terms of maximizing gains. Now, momentum is a tendency for something going in one direction to keep going in that direction, and less affected by outside forces.

I know we all know what that means if we've ridden a bicycle, or for running, or for swimming. We get our momentum going, and we just want to keep it up. So, how does that affect a process of conflict resolution.

Well. So, you make one agreement. OK. You've made an agreement, even if it's a small agreement. It makes it easier to make the next agreement, small agreement, and a third agreement.

We actually call this agreement stacking. And we have momentum, it builds momentum to keep building these agreements, and each time you agree it's easier to make a subsequent agreement.

Now, of course, the opposite is possible. If you begin to disagree, the parties begin to disagree, each disagreement of course can create momentum in the opposite direction. So, within the conflict resolution process, it's possible to reach answers even on small issues, to make small decisions and agreements that will create momentum for maximizing gain.

That's the goal of the process. That's the goal of a conflict resolver, to create that confidence, and what will happen when two people meet together, put the issues on the table, and are willing to collaborate together to maximize their gains. So, I've enjoyed being part of this tutorial with you, and I look forward to next time.

Terms to Know

Obtaining something of value.


Losing something valued.


A tendency for something going in one direction to keep going in that direction unless affected by outside forces.