Jesse and Sara had a disagreement about where Sara should park when she drove the car to the mall to shop.  Jesse wanted Sara to park in the parking garage when running her errands.   Sara liked to park in the garage because it was convenient for her.  When you have different preferences about how things should be done, you have to talk to discover the concerns each has around the specific issue.

Through open discussion of their concerns around this issue, they found that Jesse was concerned about narrow spaces, which resulted in the car getting scratched or dented by other car doors, resulting in repair costs.  What concerned Sara was finding a convenient parking spot to run errands and get to important engagements like doctors’ appointments on time.

Through this discussion (rather than just defending one’s own position as the right, smart, logical, sensible, what I want position) Sara and Jesse were able to demonstrate that “every concern of your is a concern of mine.” Thus, they each honored what the other thought was important.  Being able to be clear about your specific concerns in a given situation and to be able to clearly state this concern is important to finding workable solutions to the issue.

The best outcome of this kind of discussion is an action plan that is responsive to all the stated concerns.  Be careful about “compromising”, which like cooperation may be about one of you getting what you want and the other not.

Here is the win-win solution, Jesse and Sara achieved.  Jesse offered to drive Sara into town when he is working from home.  When she drives, she will park on the upper levels of the garage where cars are not so crowded, and take care to park in the middle of the space to decrease dents from other car doors.

The takeaways from this negotiation are:

  • Your tendency will be to defend you position (Sara’s initial reaction to Jesse is that his position is “ridiculous”)
  • Take time through open discussion to discover the wishes and concerns you each have around the issue
  • Remember “every concern of yours is a concern of mine”
  • Brainstorm about win-win solutions
  • Put the solution into action

This situation and the process of negotiating collaborative was adapted from an post called “How Conflict Can Improve Your Relationship” (I disagree with the use of the concept of conflict to describe this situation. see the thumbnail on this post, DISAGREEMENT AND DIFFERENCE ARE NOT CONFLICT for my position) at

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