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Contrasting and Common Beliefs, Positions, and Interests

Contrasting and Common Beliefs, Positions, and Interests

Author: Julie Tietz

At the end of this tutorial, the learner will understand how to map the beliefs, goals, and interests of parties and to identify whether each item is shared or unique to one party.

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Video Transcription

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Hi. I'm Julie Tietz, and welcome to Conflict Resolution, Putting the Pieces Together. Today we're going to talk about how we can map out parties' beliefs, positions, interests, and goals, and maybe identify some shared or unique interests that the parties may have.

To start off, let's have a little overview or review of positions and interests. So a position is what we say we want or need. So it's our verbal statement on what we need or want in order to feel satisfied, or resolve a conflict in some situations.

Whereas our interests are those underlying reasons why we say we want. And it's also those beliefs, actions, or physical items that we believe to be important or essential to our satisfaction or happiness. So it's our needs and what we need in order to be satisfied. And we know that a position is just one way in which we can have our interests met. And a belief is our mental sense of what is true, right, or correct in the situation, which also can be a part of our interests.

When we are going about our mapping of positions, interests, and beliefs with parties, we're going to do it in a similar fashion as we would during our typical conflict resolution processes. But because we are dealing with a conflict in a situation that is very intense, or has continued for a long period of time, or is complex, we are going to conduct this mapping of position, interests, and beliefs in identifying these before the process actually occurs. We are doing this because we need to give a broad overview of the conflict for the parties to visualize in our conflict map. And because we know that it's important to focus on the interests rather than the positions, if we know the interests in advance, we can then really get down to it and really help the parties focus on those interests rather than the positions in looking at our analysis and conflict map.

When we are working with the parties to identify their beliefs, positions, and interests, we can go about it in doing a T diagram. So causes on one side, consequences on the other. Positions on one side, interests on the other. Or there is a number of different ways you can go about it, too. This is just one example that I'm providing for you that could possibly be used in the situation.

And so when we identify these causes and consequences, parties may have different beliefs about what happened during the conflict-- what the causes were, what the consequences were. But when they go through this conflict mapping process, they may find that they have some beliefs about the causes and consequences that they share.

Similar to finding interests. We know that in some situations parties do have shared interests in a conflict. And so the conflict mapping can really be a powerful tool in unveiling these shared beliefs and mutual interests. And also, once we find these shared beliefs and interests, if they are there, within our conflict mapping, we then can possibly change parties' perceptions towards each other.

And this can bring about a cognitive dissonance for the party. So they're holding two or more incompatible thoughts or beliefs. So at first, they have these negative perceptions about the party.

But then they are seeing through this conflict map that they have some shared beliefs and mutual interests. And so they are feeling really uncomfortable about this dissonance. And they then change their negative assumptions and perceptions about the others to a more positive light, and really work towards their common goals and mutual interests and share beliefs in finding solutions that will benefit them and reach their goals in this particular situation.

Let's take a look at our key points on contrasting and common beliefs, positions, and interests. When we are working with parties, we want to map out their beliefs, positions, and interests. And this will really help us in the long run in assessing our conflict analysis and making out our conflict map.

And we are helping the parties do this in advance of the process. And when we are helping them do this, we are doing it similarly as we would in our typical conflict resolution process. And we're doing it in advance because it is a very intense or a long period of a conflict or is more complex. And when we do our map, we can then help parties see that they have shared beliefs and mutual interests in some situations. And when they see that they have these shared beliefs and mutual interests, hopefully this can change their negative assumptions and perceptions about each other.

Let's take a look at our key terms before we go. Feel free to pause and look at them a little bit closer.

Thank you so much for taking the time out. I hope that you've learned something. And I can't wait to catch you again next time.

Terms to Know

A person's mental sense of what is true, right, or correct in a situation.

Cognitive Dissonance

A state in which the mind holds two or more incompatible thoughts or beliefs.


An action, belief, or physical item that a party perceives as important or essential to his/her satisfaction or happiness.


A particular way of getting an interest met, but not necessarily the only way of getting that interest met.

Shared Belief/Mutual Interest

A belief or interest held by all parties to a conflict.