"The standard mind-set is either/or: Either you are right or the other side is. The alternative mind-set is both/and. They can be right in terms of their experience, and you can be right in terms of yours."
William Ury, co-founder of Harvard's Program on Negotiation and coauthor of Getting To Yes (the world's best-selling book on negotiation), lays out a useful plan of action for negotiating life's especially tough situations. Honestly though, it's really all about empathy and love in the end. So what's he got to say?
Well, first of all we've got to stop thinking about everything being a contest to see who's right or wrong. That kind of thinking, Ury claims, is what gets us into problems in our personal relationships, our business dealings, our international diplomacy, and pretty much every other time two entities are trying to reach a resolution.
He says we've got to change our mind-set; rather than thinking of two people engaged in a conflict sitting across from each other at a table, we can resolve the situation by taking the energy to get up, walk around to the other side, and work together toward what is ultimately a shared goal.
The hardest thing about this is that we human beings are sensitive creatures by default. We are instinctively driven by our egos and therefore we are inclined to take things personally, we're easily provoked, we don't like to apologize, and we don't like to admit that we are wrong. But, Ury suggests, it's not impossible to get past these things; we just have to practice keeping it cool, and, above all else, understand the other side's point of view BEFORE we try to change anything.