When I say values, I do not mean numbers. In fact, it has been our experience that parties often get stuck when talk is limited to numerical figures. In this article, I use the word values to refer to things that are most important in people’s lives, therefore, serve as a framework on how they lead their lives.
First, let us discuss the pitfalls of limiting discussions to just numerical figures. I want to share an example of a workplace dispute. The labor group of a large multinational corporation filed a complaint about the improper computation of overtime wage involving two very specific days. It was a seemingly simple dispute but created a tremendous rift in the relationship between the company and its union. Both groups were in negotiations for five months until they reached a stalemate and sought third party facilitation. The relationship was civil but rumors of protests were already going around. Neither one was willing to make a move anymore. Animosity had built up in such a way that they no longer trusted each other.
Parties involved in difficult and highly emotional negotiations need space to reflect, to think, to strategize, to breathe as they work towards the three C’s – clarity, creativity and collaboration.
A third party facilitator’s primary job is to empower parties to resolve their own problems and negotiate their own issues. So a good sign that we have effectively done our job is when clients do not call us for help. Two years have passed since the emotionally intense negotiations stalemate. Representatives from both labor and management shared feedback that new issues arose along the way which they successfully resolved using the Values-based Framework. Another clear testament to how transformation and long lasting solutions can be achieved when we talk about values.
(Written by Mia Q. Corpus, March 2018)