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Prioritizing and Interlinking Options

Prioritizing and Interlinking Options

Author: Sophia Tutorial

At the end of this tutorial, the learner will be able to help parties evaluate potential options to include in a solution

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What's Covered

In this lesson, we’ll discuss how parties in conflict can come up with solutions that are workable for both of them.

The specific areas of focus include:

  1. Organizing options by priority
  2. Interlinking options


As we’ve discussed, the goal of the resolution process is to uncover the real interests and needs that the parties have. These interests are what must be met in order for the parties to walk away feeling satisfied.

Once we've made a list of those interests, we brainstorm options for meeting them. We then move into the evaluative phase, in which we determine whether each option is desirable and feasible for the parties.

This involves considering questions such as:

  • Are these options really going to work?
  • Are there any reasons why we can't even consider certain options?
  • Are there other people who need to be involved in this decision?

Once we have taken anything that's not feasible or doesn't fit the interest of either party off the list, we’re left with a list that we can now organize.

We can set priorities by any number of factors, the first of which needs to be the importance to both parties. Once that is considered, the list can be organized based on other priorities

Example In some situations, time might be a factor. You would then look at list and determine if there are some things that need to be done before others because of certain time constraints or deadlines.

So depending on the context, there are a variety of factors that can help us organize options by priority.


Once we set the priorities, we want to interlink these options. This means showing the collaborative relationship between the parties. We can do that simply by how we state the options, or how we word the agreements.

Interlinking options can phrased as “Party A is agreeing to do x to meet Party B's need, and Party B will do y to meet Party A's need.”

In this phrasing, we have actually stated the commitments that the parties have agreed to in a way the shows the collaborative nature of the solution.


Let’s say Party A is a landlord, and Party B is a tenant. They might be in conflict over a payment of the rent, needed repairs, or any number of things. Perhaps as they begin to prioritize, getting the rent on time every month is deemed most important for the landlord. Whereas for the renter, making sure plumbing repairs get done in the bathroom is at the top of his list.

As the intervener, you would help the parties write this up in a way that shows the collaborative nature of the agreement: “The tenant will pay the rent by no later than the 10th of every month to meet the landlord’s need, and the landlord will repair the plumbing in the bathroom to meet the tenant’s need.”

They may also have a particular deadline or timeline for making those repairs happen, which would also be written into this agreement. After interlinking the most highly prioritized options, you would continue down the list of priorities.

When interlinking options, the key is to be very specific in terms of what each party is agreeing to do. We want to state the options in a way that shows how the joint interests are being met.

Term to Know

    • Joint Interests
    • Interests held by all parties to a conflict.

Big Idea

The process of evaluating options may take a little bit of time, but taking that time to confirm that the options are favorable, feasible, and prioritized correctly will help ensure that the solution the parties agree on is a workable and sustainable one.


In this lesson, you learned that when evaluating options in the conflict resolution process, it’s important to organize these options by priority, beginning with what is most important to each party.

You now understand that once they have been prioritized, interlinking the options in a way that shows how the joint interests are being met ensures that both parties are clear about and satisfied with what they have agreed to in the resolution.

Good luck!

Source: Adapted from Sophia tutorial by Marlene Johnson.

Terms to Know
Joint Interests

Interests held by all parties to a conflict.