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So we end the year with a climate “accord” nobody likes. And health care reform limped out of Congress with critics baying on all sides. When the Legislature convenes to contend with the state’s red ink, we’ll probably see more controversial compromises, just as we did in the special session.
Which makes me think we don’t know how to compromise anymore. I’m not sure we even know what a compromise is.
I’ve seen the process in two settings – as a mediator and as an observer at New Mexico First’s Town Hall Meetings.
In mediation training, we learned that resolving conflict has several critical pieces. First, the right people have to be at the table with authority to make an agreement. Second, everybody has to negotiate in good faith. Third – and this is a big one – everyone must be heard and believe they’ve been heard by the others. Fourth, everyone should be prepared to concede on some lesser issues in order to reach an agreement on critical issues.
As a mediator, I’ve seen two emotional people forge an agreement they could live with, shake hands, and walk away satisfied. And I’ve also seen mediations fail because one of the four elements wasn’t in place.
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