The foundation of fairness principles and the willingness to work together as a community is still not enough to assure good governance. One must also be able to successfully work through complex negotiations on difficult issues that are complicated by past tensions and the danger of misunderstanding. This requires sophisticated negotiation skills and the ability to take advantage of outside “third-party” assistance where appropriate. Among the issues that need to be addressed are:
• Miscommunication — Communication, especially with respect to emotionally charged issues, is fraught with opportunities for serious misunderstandings – misunderstandings that can make working together impossible and undermine fragile new relationships. The challenge is to design and teach people how to use communication skills that really work among people with diverse backgrounds.
• Cross-Cultural Considerations — Different cultures approach the problems of working together in very different ways. Negotiating across cultures requires that the parties understand one another’s cultural orientations and that they identify and pursue some sort of mutually- acceptable plan for spanning those differences.
• Facilitation — Prospects for successful communication can often be enhanced by obtaining the services of skilled facilitators capable of helping the parties communicate more clearly.
• Mediation, Arbitration and Related Processes — In addition to helping improve communication, mediators, artibrators and other types of “third parties” can help disputants move beyond apparent impasses. Effective third parties need to understand what processes are useful in what contexts, however. They must be able to adjust to cultural differences, and design processes that are effective in complex, deep-rooted, and escalated conflicts. Improving the quality and availability of such services is critical, as is developing a track record of success so that parties in need will know to seek such assistance and be willing to work with the third parties effectively when they arrive.