OTPIC Officially Retired

As of December 2, 2005, the Online Training Program on Intractable Conflict (OTPIC) has been officially retired, and is no longer open to new registrations.

The successor to OTPIC is a course called Dealing Constructively with Intractable Conflicts (DCIC). The new curriculum is built around one of our major projects, Beyond Intractability, and offers a much more extensive and informative set of learning materials than that available through OTPIC.

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International Online Training Program On Intractable Conflict

Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado, USA

Face Saving

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Face saving (or saving face) refers to maintaining a good self image. People who are involved in a conflict and secretly know they are wrong will often not admit that they are wrong because they don’t want to admit they made a mistake. They therefore continue the conflict, just to avoid the embarrassment of looking bad.

To avoid this problem, it is important to allow one’s opponents to make concessions gracefully, without having to admit that they made a mistake or backed down. Often a simple change in wording, or an exchange of concessions will help negotiators maintain a positive image, even when they are actually giving in very substantially. Negotiation expert William Ury, (1991, p. 105) recommends that negotiators "go slow to go fast." By moving slowly, negotiators can trade minor concessions, and can focus more on what they have gained than on what they have lost. Superior power is useless, cautions Ury, "if it drives your opponent into a corner and makes him resist you with all his might. Leaving him a way out is a time-honored precept."

One aspect of this principle is the rule of not gloating or bragging when one has won a victory. Gloating makes the other side look bad and feel badly, which can encourage them to withdraw their cooperation with any previous agreements.


Links to Examples of Face Saving:

Raymond Cohen--Negotiating Across Cultures: Communication Obstacles in International Diplomacy (Symbolic Acts)
This article illustrates how substantially insignificant concessions can be critical to researching agreements.
Roger Fisher, William Ury, and Bruce Patton -- Seven Strategies for Treating Perception - or Framing Problems
Fisher, Ury, and Patton have developed a technique for negotiating agreements called principled negotiations.  One aspect of this approach is to deal effectively with people problems and one way to do that, they say, is to allow one's opponent to save face.   This and other approaches are discussed in this article.
Jeffery Rubin -- The Timing of Ripeness and the Ripeness of Timing
One way to create "ripeness" or "readiness" to negotiate is to reframe the conflict in a way that allows all the parties to save face, Rubin argues.
Raymond Cohen--Negotiating Across Cultures: Communication Obstacles in International Diplomacy (The 1971 U.S. - Japan Monetary Crisis)
This essay illustrates the importance of allowing losing parties to "save face."
William Ury -- Beyond the Hotline
One way to control crisis situations, Ury says, is to give the opponent a face saving way out of the crisis.

Links to Related Approaches


"Yesable" Propositions


Links to Related Problems:

Refusal to Negotiate


Copyright 1998 Conflict Research Consortium  -- Contact: crc@colorado.edu