Restorative Approaches and the Art of Negotiation: Lessons for Brexit
With Brexit negotiations starting Monday 19th June, the art of negotiation is vital to the success of any restorative intervention. The ability to get parties into a process, often where one has harmed the other, to agree to meet, and then discuss the damage to relationships requires a great deal of skill. Solution finding can be an intense experience for all involved including those facilitating the process, as they have to recognise the emotional context is as important as the content of any agreement.
I believe unlike other forms of ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) and Conflict Resolution processes Restorative Approaches actively identifies, articulates and engages in the emotions that drive conflict situations. In doing so, they allow those involved to vent, cry, express or challenge opinions in the room. This enables all the parties to be clear not just about the facts, but also, their emotional positions. Skilled facilitators are able read and address the emotional levels in the room. This allows them to move the participants through process to a point of negotiation by actively understanding and clarifying the emotions that can drive misunderstanding, harm and conflict.
As Article 50 has now been triggered, the EU negotiating team are already gearing up lead by Michel Barnier, it is clear that jostling for position is already happening. Whereas, Theresa May has already adopted a win/lose/walk mentality. This fails to recognise that negotiation is most successful when you seek a win/win solution. This means recognising compromise, which is going to be necessary; and so is empathy. The best negotiators recognise that any meeting of two or more parties has an emotional dimension, they know how to keep things on track whilst helping to regulate the emotional temperature to achieve bipartisan solutions.
For the Brexit negotiations to be successful both sides need to recognise the harm caused to both their position and the other sides if they fail to compromise. Restorative Approaches as a form of negotiation highlights the art of emotionally engaging with potential conflict situations. Furthermore, if the Brexit negotiations are skillfully handled could lead to creative solutions that neither side expected. The opportunity for collaboration is in both parties interests moving past the posturing and emotional uncertainty requires a restorative process.