…In his new book “Negotiating Life: Secrets for Everyday Diplomacy and Deal Making” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), Professor Jeswald W. Salacuse of [The Fletcher School at] Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, examines situations in which disputants have broken off contact with each other and what brings them back together. He notes that some of the most intractable conflicts in recent human history, including those between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland and between white and black South Africans, raged for many years, only to be resolved when the time was found to be ripe.
A school of thought known as “ripeness theory” considers what makes conflicts ripe for resolution. Conflicts become ripe in the presence of two conditions, according to ripeness theorist I. William Zartman: when the parties are experiencing a mutually harmful stalemate and when both sides see a way out of the conflict. For parties to move beyond impasse, they must change the way they view the conflict.
Ripeness theory suggests at least four pieces of advice that can help you move your conflict beyond impasse.
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