Human beings tend to negotiate at one point or another in their life, on one matter or another. Some however do it more effectively those others. Human beings have been able to not only survive but also thrive as a species mainly because of this ability (Alfini, 2010) of all methods of conflict management; the negotiation process is the most efficient, flexible, eminently sensible, and economical in the human repertoire to manage differences and controversy. In early human history, disputes occurred mostly within families, tribes, communities, and individuals. Yet, despite past successes and the dire necessity of negotiations for human beings to survive, the negotiation activity remains suspect in most people’s minds even and especially during the more recent centuries because societies have become more politically, technologically, economically and socially complex and the need to negotiate more profound than ever.
Negotiation behaviors and processes meant to explain the constellation of communication and acts that extend beyond a particular negotiation and encompass all manners of action or expression, whether it is formal or informal whose purpose is to settle differences or issues that arise between people. In mediation, the most common process is direct negotiations assisted by a third party who is on a neutral stand. Many practitioners view mediation and negotiation as distinctly separate processes. However, the techniques, strategies, and skills are the same for both except the format that is different. Impromptu mediations or negotiations can take place tactically, through asynchronously or face to face, through gestures or formally arranged meetings. In every workplace or family, co-workers, family members, friends, managers, or colleagues pause as de facto mediators (participants in mediation). More formally, in larger agencies or organizations, an ombudsperson is appointed and their role is to mediate and manage internal organizational disputes and stresses. Mediators and negotiators however have no powers such as judges, find facts or other third party who bears the authority to determine or impose a result by either contract or law.
The negotiation and mediation process is voluntary and the authorization of the practitioner requires approval from the other parties. The negotiating process is included in every important context where disputes are bound to arise including education systems and healthcare, politics, public formulation, geopolitical affairs between nations, sustainable development issues, medical research decisions, and environmental issues (Benjamin, 2012). When laws, rules and formalized policies fail to effectively serve and settle issues and controversies requiring greater flexibility or nuance, mediation and negotiation are the primary means though which people reach some a truce in order to live and work in harmony
Many however conflate negotiation with communication, believing the display of understanding, ability to communicate and empathy are necessary components, they are not appropriate for effective negotiation. Negotiating behaviors lead to workable arrangements between people, especially in circumstances where communication and empathy are absent. Negotiating behavior is the bone and muscle, which converts the vital human instinct to recognize that cooperation and collaboration are required, into reality, despite the relations of those involved.
Human negotiation behaviors, approaches, and rituals have evolved over the centuries, taking up changes and shifts in the surrounding social, political, economic, biological, and cultural environment. Those behaviors are subject to the principles of the evolutionary theory. Some physical anthropologists argue that the change is not necessarily of the need for acquiring a greater reasoning capacity, but instead to deal with and manage those interactions. As people have lived much closer together in larger and denser cities, they have acquired a dire need to be able to recognize and hence protect themselves from being deceived and future threats from others and become strategic as well in their own dealings in turn. The mission of the US Navy is to train, maintain, and equip combat-ready Naval forces that are capable of deterring aggression, winning wars, and maintaining the freedom of the seas. As dictated in their tasks, the Navy certainly goes to the sea. From a human perspective, there are obvious uncomfortable aspects and factors that await the individuals in the sea. One of them is the fact that there is limited space in the sea. It hereby follows that, at times, they have to share a bed, meals amongst other essentials. Some of the jobs the Navy ultimately engages in include, regional security, intelligence missions that aim to gather enemy data, training missions at sea with other foreign navies, marine cleanups including oil spill, at-sea sources and medical care programs for the navy. For all this missions to be successful there is a need for high quality teamwork (DON, 32, 2014)
For teamwork to be efficient and effective in the US Navy the management identifies the extreme need for disturbance handling and solving conflicts. The information processes and activities that arise in the navy require maximum protection. Because of this mediation is the best-suited mechanism to solve any conflicts that may arise. When the US Navy does not control conflicts, there are severe consequences that would erupt which would affect the nation’s economy, social life of citizens and the politics, as well. For all these reasons, therefore, the US Navy has identified mediation as a viable approach to managing conflicts to maintain teamwork, uphold the secrecy and privacy of their operations and to maintain security and normalcy not only in the United States of America but also to the rest of the world (Don, 2014).
The U.S Navy has a department termed as the Department of the Navy’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Program (ADR). In it, there is a policy that stipulates that formal administrative procedures that are practicable including mediation shall be employed in conflict handling. Mediation that is the mostly referred to as an alternative dispute resolution approach is taught to the managers and all the employees. The policy provides that the ADR techniques should offer an alternative to formal administration or litigation procedures to the maximum practicable extent. the goal is to resolve disputes and conflicts in the earliest feasible stage using the fastest and most inexpensive method possible, at the lowest possible organization level.
The Mediator Certification Program is responsible for this and ensures that all DON employees and managers get access to well trained mediation neutrals at a little cost or no fee for ADR services. Mediation in the Navy promotes practices and principles that end up facilitating communication and maintenance or improvement of working relationships. Use of mediation in resolving conflicts, in the Navy demonstrates their commitment to a positive approach and joint ownership of solutions and concerns. The mediation process gives the participants an opportunity to resolve any differences between them less formally, more efficient use of resources and quickly, as well (Hamilton, 2007). This is unlike traditional methods of handling conflicts such as litigation that would require many resources thus holding back the efficiency of the Navy.
The Navy department emboldens the practice of solo mediation as it tends to be more cost effective and beneficial in developing the skills of the mediator. The Navy adopts the mediation process that uses a third party who is responsible for encouraging and facilitating the resolution between two parties. The disputing parties thus reach a voluntary and mutually acceptable agreement as they provide a non-adversarial, non-adjudicative, private, informal and confidential process. The mediator is far different from an arbitrator in the sense that, the mediator making any decisions or forcing a decision on any party to the dispute. Just like most conflicts, the mediator amongst the conflicting parties in the Navy assists the participants to identify the issues causing the conflict, fosters a joint problem solving and extends to explore opportunities for settlement in an environment that is neutral.
The Navy recognizes that the mediator should not be anyone who desires to be a mediator. As a result of identifying the magnitude of solving conflicts through mediation, they have a well elaborated set of qualities that one should possess before getting a chance to be trained to be a mediator (Ivey, 2009). The qualities are; fairness, patience, respect and adherence to confidentiality, ability to allow others to develop their own solutions, creativity, neutrality, active listening skill, credibility, trustworthiness, honesty, ability to accept feedback and incorporate new information. Others include the ability to deal with change, ability to deal with difficult people in stressful situations, flexibility, and professional demeanor, problem solving skills, non-judgmental, good communication skills, impartiality, and empathy.
Since the year 1999, adoption of the mediation program in the Navy has built success (Tubman, 2009). In the year 2009, the Navy Region Southeast Human Resource Office was honored for the second year consecutively as it has been successful in the utilization of the Navy Workplace Alternative Dispute Resolution Program. The program coordinator at this branch on that year was Lekesia Hawkins, who stated that, with mediation in settling grievances, everyone was allocated an opportunity to sit down and talk things through. In the fiscal year of 2009, the Navy Region Southeast was able to solve 79% of equal employment cases through mediation. This is an indication of how effective mediation can be. These statistics influenced the awarding. After receiving this award from the DoN at the Navy Worldwide Human Resources Conference, held in Baltimore back in 17th April, 1999, the organization was quick to identify thekey factor in the Navy’s Region, Southeast’s ADR success was the certification of the mediators (Ivey, 2009)
For the mediators, the mediation process in the Navy Region Southeast was a collateral duty. One mediator Jackson Blamo responded to state that they volunteer to be mediators to help resolve conflicts before they can escalate thus improving communication and morale thus saving the Navy’s money (Tubman, 2009). Mediation in the Navy Region Southeast demonstrated to be beneficial to both employees and managers. This was due to its capacity to resolve workplace conflicts at the lowest level and the ability it had to improve morale of the workforce through advocating for open dialogue between parties. Consider that the environment is non-threatening and the evident potential of avoiding litigation that results in massive expenses in regard to costs and the working time.
Mediation in the US Navy has been employed to bring about benefits at the national level. The U.S Military foreign hosts such as Japan have been involved in mediation that has been beneficial for both parties. The U.S military in the region has provided has provided stability in the uncertain region. In recent years, U.S military importance in Asia faces continuous volatility in North Korea increased growth of pirates, terrorist organizations, and human trafficking. The continued relationship between the U.S military and the Japanese has proved important to regional stability, the countering of weapons, human trafficking, piracy, and protection of commercial maritime routes.
The Japanese and U.S military have engaged in various disputes since the end of the World War II. However, for the communities that witness the direct contact between these groups and for the sake of global security, the US military is required in Japan and the military has to be in good terms with the Japanese.
The Japanese have expressed displeasure for the provision of the SOFA for it appears to directly strike at Japanese sovereignty. Japan also feels slighted because NATO SOFA appears to give European countries greater control over the U.S. service members charged of crimes that Japan SOFA gives Japan. Majority of the Japanese population see this difference as a clear indication favoring European countries and against Japan.
Inherent cultural differences between the U.S. and the Japanese legal systems have also played a role in complicating the issues. For example in the Japanese culture, confession plays a vital role in the rehabilitation of suspects and is therefore highly encouraged. The Japanese also utilize different interrogation procedures to further this goal. Unlike the United States, the Japanese main purpose of interrogation is obtaining a confession. Perhaps unseen by majority of the decision makers in conflicts between the local Japanese and U.S. military personnel are the collateral effects that caused by resolution of conflicts by such powerful level authorities. When issues get to the government’s highest levels, the interests of the citizens on ground are the ones to suffer. In the case of the U.S. service members present in Japan and local communities, both groups stand to lose if the disputes are continuously pushed up to the highest levels in the government.
Mediation at this case is mandatory as it avails a perfect mechanism that can resolve disputes between the U.S military in Japan and the Japanese Communities. Mediation establishes its focus to look at the issues resulting to the disputes, as well as the built relationship of the parties. The mediation progresses to smoothen on the cultural differences that exist between Japan and the U.S. as it allows intimate forums for discussing issues.
Such a program would be supported by the U.S Navy program as its framework provides mediation services that target to settle disputes. In addition, the writer is quick to identify that both the Japan and the U.S governments would need to revisit the State of Forces Agreement. This fact identifies that mediation for the U.S Navy requires the support of the political arena which is a challenge for mediation. As a result, therefore, the US government needs to encourage mediation at international levels that will end up strengthening the U.S Navy’s mediation approaches to international conflicts. Therefore, for the Japanese case, the U.S Navy mediators are in the position to resolve conflicts at the lowest level. Therefore, avoiding the involvement of government officials and another high-level military. This reflects an improvement of the relation that exists between the Japanese hosts and the United States Military personnel.
The U.S Navy’s mediating department recognizes mediation as a communication exercise that targets to conciliate the interests of the disputing parties thus assisting them to find a way out while in the meantime it avoids imposing a solution upon them from outside. At times, the navy has to deal with mediations in which the conflicting parties are armed (Hellman, 2012). In such cases, the success of the process is dependent on factors external to the mediation process. As a result, therefore, there are analytical tools that mediators in the navy have to employ.
The first tool is to identify the relative power and authority of the individuals or parties that are involved in the conflict. This is to mean that the mediator has to know who does what, when, where and how. There is then a progression to identify the emotions attached to an individual or party involved in the conflict. The mediator then seeks to understand the layers of strata of the conflict which then includes identifying what the right level on possible resolving is, it should neither be too soft or too tough. The fourth instrument is the maintenance of a clear communication which is vital as it ensures that the parties involved understood the messages correctly. In the US Navy the way information is handled is a critical approach as in most cases, the loopholes upon which the information may be leaked to the general public need to be eliminated completely.
When a conflict is between members of the Navy, the mediator appointed is in most cases of a higher level or the same level as the officers who are under a conflicting situation. The mediator has to be acceptable to the two officers while he or she should understand the guidelines provided by the US Navy. He or she then progresses to undertake the mediation process which includes following a common plan for the mediation process. The process begins with an opening statement by the mediator, maintaining a positive emotional climate by eliminating negative attacks or emotions, identifying the concerns and roots for conflicts, then the negotiation agenda, agenda development, coming up with individual interests, and they position themselves to come up with a settlement.
The Navy mediation program has experienced high numbers of success. In 2001 for example, the department of ADR (primarily mediation) achieved 86 percent of resolutions in over 1840 matters. A government accounting office further disclosed that 84 percent of the disputants discovered mediation to be excellent or good. The department of the navy saved over $3 million between 2001 and 2005 by using mediation instead of other forms of conflict resolution.
The Navy’s involvement in mediations is limited mostly to employment law, healthcare law, environmental law and acquisition law. The Navy never turns to mediation in criminal conflicts. This decision however is arguably contrary to the Secretary of Navy instruction 5800.13. it requires the use of negotiations under all circumstances. The Department Of Defense Directive, whose work is to put up a framework for encouraging expanded use of negotiation and mediation in the whole department of defense, further supports this notion? The success of the Navy with mediation and to try mediation in all cases is an indication that the navy would best receive support by expanding mediation to cases dealing with criminal contexts and Japan can provide a good opportunity to put this into practice
The understanding of negotiating behavior stymied, by the lack of knowledge of the evolution of those same behaviors including their natural history. Assuming negotiation practice has effectively began, and in the previous 50 years, seriously compromises the growing development of the negotiation that has gone beyond practice in current days, and continues to influence the practice directly. The way people mediate and negotiate reflects techniques and strategies that have been cultivated continuously over many centuries. Often, people dismiss past tactics as outmoded and primitive and yet they are on display regularly. Their ongoing use can suggest a continued evolutionary relevance and purpose. Few techniques and strategies have gone extinct simply because they announce a new practice style.
When it comes to settling conflicts and solving disputes in the US Navy, mediation presents itself as the best strategy to deliver desired results. However, that does not imply that it is the only option. There are other options such as arbitration and conciliation. All in all though, mediation is outstanding based on the benefits that it is bound to deliver.
One of the advantages is that mediation is relatively inexpensive. This ensures that the resources of the Navy are saved for other purposes. In addition, mediation is a relatively swift approach which ensures that the escalation of disputes is minimized through the mediators. This ensures that the U.S Navy saves on time that they then use in working towards their mission. It is in addition a relatively simple strategy as there is no complex evidentiary or procedural rules that have to be followed.
Mediation further allows the involved parties to adjust and revise the scope of their conflict. This acts as a learning experience for the conflicting sides as they have a chance to look back and identify the wrong steps that they might have taken and learn to prevent the same from occurring in the future. Mediation further allows for settlements and solutions that are flexible. It is a decision that has been accepted by the conflicting parties. The settlements that come about following mediation are more agreeable to the conflicting parties unlike courtsjudgments that at times seem to lean to one direction.
Mediation in the US Navy, however, still experiences challenges, as it is evident in the US Military and the Japan Communities that host the military. Some of the challenges are the fact that mediation does not always result in a settlement agreement. At times, the mediation may fail. Mediation lacks the constitutional protections that should be guaranteed by the state courts and the federal government. Another challenge still out there is the fact that mediation lacks a formal discovery process.
Despite the challenges, however, the benefits of mediation are handling disputes in the US Navy has been felt especially after the 1999 development which saw the formation of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Program in the Navy. Therefore, mediation should be encouraged further and boosted such that the US Navy may involve in mediation on a larger scale, which includes mediation amongst conflicting nation.
Finally, one cannot look down upon the importance of cautiously assessing and analyzing the methodological consideration the options available and conflict terrain. Future mediators and negotiators will be obligated to consider their own as well as other parties predictable irrationalities and heuristic biases and how to participate.
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