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

Negotiation Skill Development

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Although everyone negotiates informally all the time without even being aware of it,   formal negotiation is a skill that can be learned through experience and practice.   People who negotiate a lot tend to be much more skilled at it than people who have not participated in many formal negotiations.  Experienced people are more likely to know what to say when, when to make concessions, when not to, what to concede, what not to, and, in general, how to manipulate the situation to their own advantage.  For this reason, negotiation tends to favor the experienced party.

It is possible to overcome this problem, however, with negotiation skills training.   Such training is beyond the scope of this site; however, many good texts on negotiation are available (summaries of several can be found at http://www.colorado.edu/conflict) and a few particularly useful excerpts are summarized in this online training program.  In general, it is useful to know and understand the difference between integrative (or win-win) negotiation strategies and distributive (or win-lose) strategies.  Win-win strategies are most useful when it is possible to develop a solution to a problem in which both (or all) sides win, or at least come out ahead of where they would, were the conflict to continue.  When this is possible, following the rules of principled negotiation is usually the best approach.

When the situation is unavoidably win-lose, however, as it often is (at least in part) in intractable conflicts, then principled negotiation is unlikely to work.  In that case, either distributive negotiation (which is much more adversarial) or a needs-based approach (such as analytical problem solving) is more likely to yield success.


Links to more information about negotiating skills

Louis Kriesberg -- Starting Negotiations
This essay discusses strategies for starting negotiations in protracted or intractable conflicts.
Louis Kriesberg -- The Negotiation of Agreements
This is a continuation of the first essay which discusses strategies for carrying out negotiations.  The context in both articles is international and intergroup negotiation processes.
Principled Negotiation
This is a summary of the strategy of principled negotiation, first set out by Fisher and Ury in 1981 in their seminal book, Getting to Yes.  This approach is the foundation for much of the negotiation and mediation that takes place in the U.S. today.
Roger Fisher, William Ury, and Bruce Patton -- Seven Strategies for Treating Perception - or Framing Problems
This is an excerpt from Getting to Yes that lists some of their approaches to what they call "people problems."
William Ury -- Overcoming Barriers to Principled Negotiation
This article is an excerpt from Getting Past No, a sequel to Getting to Yes that lists ways of overcoming obstacles which sometimes prevent people from using principled negotiation effectively.

Links to Related Approaches


Identifying Ripe Times for Negotiation

Identifying and Pursuing Negotiable Sub-Issues

Negotiation Loopbacks

Principled Negotiation

Soft Bargaining

Hard Bargaining

Distributive Bargaining


Advocacy Advisors


Links to Related Problems

Inexperienced Parties

Power Imbalances

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