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Answers to commonly asked questions. Make this available to all individuals who are filling out checklist sheets.

How are you perceived?

What if the perception is wrong? I assume that most of the perceptions are wrong. If the perceptions are correct, things are much easier.

What actions of yours have allowed this perception?

Are you stating that an incorrect perception is my fault? No. However, even crazy people have reasons. To be honest, the type of actions that allow perceptions often tell one a great deal about the person with the perception.

Why have those actions allowed the perception?

What if the other side is crazy? This is a good time to examine that possibility as well as others.

Who shares this perception?

Why not ask who perceives me the way I want to be perceived? Those few who have an accurate perception tell you a great deal more about what you need to know to deal with the problems.

Who does not share this perception?

You mean those who are causing the problem? Not necessarily. Those who do not see you accurately include those who see you as you want to be seen. This group of those who do not share your perception is not necessarily those who oppose you.

What changes that are within your control can be made in the current situation [that will help to bring about a change in perception]?

What about reality? People act based on perception, not reality. Mediation of conflicts usually is limited to altering the patterns of action between people. The changes within your control are your unilateral alternatives to negotiation and settlement and are the things you can do.

At this time you may also wish to define and consider your single best alternative to changing perception by unilateral acts. Do not list all the alternatives [i.e. stay in place and be unhappy, change jobs, go back to school, back pack across Alaska, etc.], just the single best alternative.

Why are you willing, or not willing, to effect those changes?

Why answer this question? This tells you how much you really care about the changes.

What are the changes that you feel the institution should make?

Why this question? This defines what you think you want from the "outside" party. Most people want an imposed solution. This asks you to define what solution you want imposed and how, by which changes, you want the solution imposed.

What are the institution's limits [i.e. what can reasonably be expected of an imperfect institution in an imperfect world]?

Why should this matter? Many conflicts happen because people expect institutions to act outside of their nature or ability -- much like expecting a state governmental agency to change a federal policy. It can't and won't be done without first having the federal policy delegated to the state. [Texas is outside of the EPA for most matters because it had those matters delegated to state agencies. Attempts to get state action were futile before that happened].

If you made changes in your actions and/or processes, what reciprocity do you think is fair on behalf of the institution and on behalf of those in conflict with you?

Why do I need to change? You don't. However, in most situations, a quid pro quo is expected. The natural trade-off demanded in most human affairs is why "new wine in old bottles" is often such a failure -- in the short run.

At this time you also need to ask yourself if what you want is valuable enough to take a long term approach and to seek triumph through gradualism much like the Fabian Socialists.


2. What do you see as your real goal?

Don't you mean, "what positions am I supporting?" No. The above steps help to define the tools and the problem in ways necessary to mediation. This question comes back to an issue you should have thought a great deal about and should have some firm ideas concerning.

A party should prepare a one page outline of the goal they want to achieve. DEFINE and outline the RESULT you want. You need to know and define your interests and goals rather than to rehash the positions you have taken. Positions rarely have any firm connection with reality or goals.

3. What do you see as the available realistic solutions that will achieve your goal and solve the problem

Is this where my positions go? No. If you were dealing in positions, this would be where you outline, in a page or two, how you intend to reach your positions. Rather than look at positions, this is where you take time to write a one or two page outline of how to realistically achieve your goals in a step by step fashion. Your goal in mediation or negotiation should be to realistically move towards a problem solving step rather than to make a futile attempt to impose a direct end result.

-- The checklist for this FAQ.

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