In the Thriving Through Inner Conflict Workshop at the 4th European Conference on Positive Psychology, Dina Nir and Avraham N. Kluger from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Isreal presented on Negotiational Self Theory.
Dina Nir said that whenever we need to make a decision about an Inner Conflict, we negotiate inside ourselves. These negotiations often lead to either a distributive or integrated outcome.
In 1990 Herman published his Dialogic-Self Theory. He writes that many I-positions talk to each other within us, which is good and healthy. The I-positions of our multifaceted and dynamic selves ask questions, criticize, ridicule, and disagree with each other. Many different voices are ok; inconsistency is normal. However, a pathological situation develops when one I-position takes over the entire identity. Alternative versions of reality are no longer able to have a voice.
Negotiational Self Theory believes that most often, in an inner conflict, one I-position dominates the weaker I-positions. Therefore, one side of us wins, while the other side completely looses. There is no compromise. The more submissive voice is completely unfulfilled and unsatisfied. The goal of using the Negotiational Self Theory and Method is to create win-win solutions where all inner voices are heard and no part of the self is marginalized. Negotiotional Self Method transforms the internal negotiation into all win-win outcomes.
Nir presented a four-stage method as outlined below:
Stage 1: Framing the Inner Conflict
- Recall an unresolved inner conflict that you are experiencing.
- Freely describe the nature and background of the conflict.
- Identity the two most polarizing sides in terms of “for” and “against.”
Stage 2: Eliciting and mapping different self-aspects
- Completely elicit and list all the “for” voices within yourself.
- Then, completely elicit and list all the “against” voices within yourself.
- Reconsider if anything has been left out. Add those voices under the appropriate category.
Stage 3: Revealing underlying interests and needs
- Uncover the deep and underlying interests and needs of each voice. Ask such questions as Why this? or What will that achieve?
- Construct a win-win solution.
On her handout, Nir writes: “Construct a solution that simultaneously satisfies all the different voices, aspects and interests at both ends of the conflict. The criterion for evaluating the integrative level of the decision is objective as opposed to normative or subjective. That is, each voice that has been mapped should be acknowledged, attend to and satisfied in the constructed decision.”
Nir believes that using this method will make inner conflict a positive rather than a negative experience. Moreover, each conflict is an opportunity for change and it works in both serious as well as trivial matters. During the workshop many people raised the question of whether or not it was possible in all situations. Nir truly believes that it is. Others questioned what happened if the person was not healthy as in the case of addictions. She suggested that in the case of pathology, the inner dialogue is not rich and involves only a few voices. An addiction situation involves only false voices. She also encouraged those attending the workshop to try the method with a partner, as that may make the process easier.