Assignment for the Mediating/Negotiating Essay (Gogela)

For our last portfolio assignment, you may continue to write on a topic you researched earlier or explore a new one. You may approach this essay in one of two ways:

  1. Mediate the positions of two groups (specific audiences) holding opposing viewpoints on a focused issue. Your role will be that of a third person, a fairly neutral observer who will make a sincere effort not only to examine both sides of the issue (research) but also to demonstrate genuine understanding for the views of both sides (empathy). Write an essay in which you argue for a compromise position, arriving at a mutually agreeable solution.
  2. Write a negotiating essay in which you argue your position on a focused issue to a specific audience who holds an opposing viewpoint. Your task will be to convince the opposition of the validity of your position, to demonstrate your full understanding of their position (via research and empathy), and to persuade them to agree to a compromise, a mutually agreeable solution.

For either option, keep in mind the purpose of mediating/negotiating: to find some common ground, open the lines of communication, and make progress toward a solution. Hence,

  • you must acknowledge any bias you have and remain open to the interests of others;
  • you must find a position/solution that accommodates at least some of the concerns of both sides;
  • you must analyze the arguments/evidence on both sides and from that construct a solution;
  • you will not aim to prove either side right or wrong but will try to understand the similarities and differences in thought, and address them intelligently, empathetically, and respectfully.

As you begin drafting your essay, you may want to refresh your memory on the basics of mediating/negotiating on pp. 154-56 and 192-94 in our text. Now that you have your letter to the editor in front of you (and some basic feedback from your peers), consider the following questions: Have you ...

  1. fully researched the opposition's point of view and analyzed their case?
  2. fully developed your own case (research and analysis)?
  3. located and examined specific areas of agreement and/or disagreement (synthesis)?
  4. defined both positions in terms of real interests?
  5. determined/invented options or solutions?
  6. reached one resolution based on agreed upon principles?