20The Difference between Stalemate and Solution? A Different Word

Based on an interview with William Ury

Many decades-long conflicts have numerous difficulties to them, including hardened positions, significant distrust between the parties, and deep physical and psychological wounds that have been opened from many years of fighting. As such, bringing about peace within these deeply divided places requires exceedingly delicate negotiation approaches, techniques, and tactics. Equally important, these negotiations necessitate a very creative mindset amidst strong forces pushing in the direction of continued conflict and war. The conflict in Colombia was a classic example of all of these dimensions and was the longest-running conflict in the Americas, stretching from the mid-1960s until 2016 when an elusive agreement was reached. Pundits gave the process little chance for success, but an agreement was indeed consummated, and the process has continued to evolve to this day.1

Peace processes have many defining moments, big and small, that propel the process forward and create critical momentum. One such moment in the Colombian peace process happened in 2016 when a popular well-respected general threatened to permanently pull out of the process – undermining critical support from the domestic audience and the military sector. Through some outside help, simple questions, creative thinking, and selective word choice the negotiators involved were able to solve the issue and rescue the ...

Get The Book of Real-World Negotiations now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience books, live events, courses curated by job role, and more from O’Reilly and nearly 200 top publishers.