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When Interests Are Values

When Interests Are Values

Author: Julie Tietz

At the end of this tutorial, the learner will understand that some interests may be expressions of a party's personal values, and that values cannot be mediated.

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Source: Image of Hamburgers, Public Domain,; Image of Alcohol, Public Domain,

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 go over how our interests and values relate to conflict resolution. So let's list off the key terms that we're going to look out for throughout this tutorial. We have interest, position, and value. So looking at interests and positions, an interest is an action, belief, or physical item that a party perceives as important or essential to his or her satisfaction or happiness.

So this is what we need to feel satisfied in a situation. And a position is a particular way of getting interests met but not necessarily the only way of getting that interest met. And so what I like to think of interests and positions is a position is what we say we want. Whereas, an interest is really the underlying reasons for why we want what we say we want.

So let's look at an example of this. So a position could be I can't sell you the bike for less than $300. And the interest is I need $300 to cover my rent this month. And so you're stating that you're not going to go any lower than $300, but you're really not giving the reason why. And the reason why is your interest.

Now that we have a better grasp on positions and interests, we can now move along to talking about how this relates to values and conflict. So a value is a deeply-held belief about what is right, proper, moral, or ethical. And so this is something that we hold really dear to our hearts and is our guiding principles through our life and our gauge of what is right or wrong in the world. And so when we come into values and conflict, we run into a little bit of a dilemma.

So going back and looking at interests, remember it's a belief or a physical item or an action that we need to feel satisfied. And so our interests can be expressions of our values. So our interests can oftentimes be related to our values. And interests are related on what we believe to be right or wrong.

And when this happens, the intention of conflict resolution is not to change people's values. So when we have interests based on values, we come into this dilemma because we can't change the values.

And values cannot be mediated or negotiated away because it's something that we have as a part of our whole world view and our belief system. And it's not the intention to have conflict resolution change that about people. And it's really hard for people to do that as well.

So to put this in a little bit more of a relatable perspective, let's look at some examples of values and conflict. Let's say that you're at a cookout. And somebody is grilling burgers on the grill as we see in the picture here. And there's only one grill. And yet you're a vegetarian. And you think that eating meat is morally and ethically wrong because you believe that animals should be treated better.

And there's only one grill that has had burgers on it. And you haven't been able to cook your veggie burger yet. And so you're in conflict over-- with your friends because they're like, well, why don't you just put it on the grill? It's fine. No big deal. And here you are trying to state your values and your beliefs here. And it's not coming across. And you're not willing to change that belief and value about being a vegetarian and treating animals ethically as you believe.

Another example could be having alcohol at a party. Let's say a friend is going to throw you a welcome home party. You just moved back. And they want to serve alcohol at the party. Yet you don't drink alcohol. Because due to your family upbringing or maybe your religious beliefs, you think that drinking alcohol is morally wrong. And you don't want to be around it.

And so you're coming into conflict with your friends who want to throw this party for you. And yet you don't want to have alcohol there. And they want to have alcohol there. So those are examples of our values and how you can see it's really hard to change that. And we do not want to negotiate these values away in conflict resolution.

So in conflict, there can be multiple interests involved in the situation. And some of those are values based, which we discussed, while others also contain non-values based. So we have both types of interests involved in some conflicts.

So to demonstrate this, I want to use the example of the conflict in Northern Ireland. So the values in this conflict are surrounding the Protestant and Catholic peoples' identities in Northern Ireland and whether or not they should remain under the rule of the United Kingdom or should separate from the United Kingdom and become a United Ireland.

And so these are really deeply-held values and beliefs on both sides. And yet they were able to come up with an agreement that didn't fully satisfy all of the parties involved. But they came up with a partial agreement by looking at some of these nonvalues-based interests.

And so in the Good Friday agreement, the parties agreed that they wanted the killing to stop. And so they set up some decommissioning of the weapons. And so each of the sides gave up their weapons and agreed to stop the killing between the both sides.

And both sides wanted their cultural identity recognized. And so underneath the Good Friday agreement, they proposed that each side have their own independent identity. And the country of northern Ireland would recognize both sides and their identities.

And so then this brings up the values-based issues here about being a United Ireland or remaining with the UK. They decided in agreement to remain with UK for the time being. But they also had a stipulation in there where the people could later on vote to see if they wanted to join United Ireland. So you can see here it's kind of a-- I'm giving you a really brief explanation of the conflict. So if you're interested in more, I suggest going looking into it further.

But you can see here where we are looking at an agreement that was pretty solid where we looked at the nonvalues-based interests first and were able to resolve the issue momentarily and also gave room to look at the values-based interests as well.

So now looking at our key points on values and its relationship to interests, our values are our deeply-held beliefs. And they can't be mediated. And finding nonvalues-based interests in conflict can lead to partial resolution.

So looking at our examples of our deeply-held beliefs with vegetarianism and not drinking alcohol and then going to our example of the Good Friday agreement in Northern Ireland as an example of how we can reach a partial resolution by looking at nonvalues-based interests.

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

Terms to Know

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


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


A deeply held belief about what is right, proper, or moral or ethical.