Mediators help parties to settle disputes by facilitating discussion and encouraging the parties to explore, acknowledge, and understand the other’s motivations and interests. Lawyers, judges, and mediators should all remind parties in a conflict that the pragmatic reasons to settle a case or dispute are sometime equally, or more, important than the specific questions being contested.
Parties in conflict and mediators should also remember that there are typically general, pragmatic motivations and interests which we most often share. These pragmatic interests often serve as powerful motivation to resolve a dispute.
Some of the most basic of these shared, practical concerns are avoiding costs; saving time; avoiding unpleasantness and discord; preserving reputation; enhancing positive perceptions; improving future opportunities; fear of losing; economic hardship; and appearing to be a “winner.” There are few, if any, conflicts which do not implicate some form of these basic, pragmatic interests.