This technique helps resolve conflict while generating commitments to fulfilling higher-order goals and values.
Clarify the issues in terms of their polarity and logical level.
Think about the key issues of the conflict. Think of them as polarities in which there are two sides in opposition. At what logical level is the conflict primarily occuring? For example, money is a common topic of conflict in relationships. This is usually argued at the behavioral level, because what to do or not to do is the question.
Elicit a meta-position.
Get into a meta-position that transcends the conflicting positions.
Determine the positive intentions underlying the polarity and get them in touch with them.
a. Determine the positive intentions driving each party in this conflict.
You should find that it is at a higher logical level that the more obvious issues of the conflict. Often, the underlying intentions turn out not to be in opposition, particularly when viewed in terms of their benefit on a systems level. Systems-level concerns would be about things like managing everyone’s stress and having a happy family. Longer-term thinking also tends to refocus onto a higher logical level. The child’s college education is, in part, an appeal to the parents’ identities as good parents.
b. Have each party recognize and acknowledge the other party’s positive intentions.
Help them understand that this does not mean that they endorse the other party’s logic or conclusions, or compromise on anything that they are uncomfortable with.
Get agreement on a higher-level intention.
Continuing from your meta-position perspective, chunk up until you uncover an intention that both parties can agree to.
The Meta-position is easily achieved by moving to the 3rd or the 4th perceptual positions.
Generate alternatives to fulfill the higher intention.
Explore with them what alternatives to the conflicting positions might exist that would fulfill their higher intention.
Generally, the breakthrough ideas are better than a mere compromise or middle ground. The idea may or may not be highly innovative, but was usually obscured by the conflict.
Once, a couple realized that they had the same long-term vision, but that they lack structure for realizing it. They saw that they would be able to agree on even the most painful spending restrictions if they were less vague about what had to happen. They decided to set more specific goals and determine a monthly savings goal that would be necessary to achieve their long-term goals.
In order to meet the savings goal, they would make whatever short-term sacrifices were necessary.
Get commitment to a plan.
As in the example above, help them commit to specific choices that are aligned with their higher-order values and plans. Help them specify the means for making these choices and plans happen. Mitigate for any ecological concerns. You can certainly use the Ecology Check pattern to get out of the way any possible disturbance to agreement.
Follow up with them to see how well their new commitments and agreements are working out. As always, attend to ecological concerns. See what additional higher values and roles might help to inform their decisions and follow through.