1. Vision, Mission, Objectives
Our vision is to build an antiracist Medieval Studies that is founded on equity, justice, solidarity, and intersectionality.
Medieval Studies has historically been founded on European coloniality and institutional white supremacy, which have led to a multi-layered exclusion of Black and indigenous people and people of color, who have been
- Denied as subjects and actors in the European Middle Ages;
- Erased as co-eval agents in an interconnected, global world beyond the European continent and its immediate surroundings;
- Marginalized as valuable contributors in the field of Medieval Studies.
Our conception of what the Middle Ages looks like informs our conception of what a Medievalist looks like. Thus, in order to address and combat systemic exclusion, Medievalists of Color (the Organization) is formed as an activist, scholarly organization of academic, para-academic, and independent scholars. In our quest to make medieval studies an antiracist field, we are dedicated to supporting, educating, and mentoring medievalists of color at all career stages.
The Organization does not subscribe to any form of metricization of “inclusivity” or “diversity.” A Medieval Studies shaped according to the Vision of the Organization is not based on a quantitative but a qualitative change in the entire field, integrated into the foundations of institutional spaces and scholarly activities.
The Organization’s means of achieving its antiracist, intellectual, and professional goals are fundamentally shaped by activist theory and practice, mentorship, and scholarship and are carried out in the following ways:
- Addressing and combating racism in the field of Medieval Studies.
- Increasing the visibility of medievalists of color, both inside and outside academia and building infrastructure to support them.
- Supporting the production of scholarly work that focuses on black and indigenous people and people of color both as subject and object of inquiry in the medieval period.
Another crucial objective of MOC is the adequate representation of its members across rank and institutional status and respect for all its voices. The nature of medieval studies and its reception of MOC scholars historically has led to a present situation in which the membership of the organization consists of considerably more graduate students, early-career and contingent faculty, and independent scholars than senior tenured scholars. We aim to balance appropriate representation of all these voices in organizational leadership with awareness of the particular demands that graduate students, early-career and contingent faculty, and independent scholars face. The organization is always open to hearing solutions to address this issue.
2. Committees & Positions
2.1 MOC Steering Committee
The MOC Steering Committee (SC) comprises five members in good standing elected every two years, of which at least two members are graduate students, early-career or contingent faculty, or independent scholars.
Whenever a vacancy on the SC is announced, candidates may propose their candidacy within a limited timeframe to be determined by the SC. The platform for their candidacy may include an affiliation with or representation of a particular subcommittee.
Members of the MOC SC have the following responsibilities:
- Commit to prompt availability/response (48 hrs) to discuss questions raised by MOC members or other SC members, as these often have some urgency or require time-sensitive replies to other organizations.
- Decide case-by-case whether an issue can be resolved by discussion/consensus or requires an internal vote among them to decide on an action and will set up and conduct such votes themselves.
- Inform the rest of the SC of their unavailability in advance and empower them to make decisions if the individual is unable to respond/discuss.
- Rotate (alphabetically by first name) as “lead person” for each issue/action that arises to distribute labor evenly across all members (“lead person” will thus not always be the person affiliated with any subcommittee relevant to a given issue, in order to ensure parity of involvement).
If a conflict of interest arises with one particular member as “lead,” another member can substitute, with the first member switched into the next task.
Major decisions about actions that all subcommittees make (liaisons to conferences, sponsored sessions, mentorship, etc.) need to go through SC before approval (see Public Outreach/Conference section below). The SC’s other main purpose is to react in support of issues explicitly brought to it for advice or resolution.
MOC SC members should expect to be approached on occasion individually and asked to speak for MOC as a whole, or speak individually about something MOC, or a MOC member, had said. If an SC member is approached in this way, the person should respond that they will take the matter to the rest of the SC for consultation. SC members, as well as other members, should make decisions about responses to questions or issues only in conversation with each other. An individual MOC, whether or not on the SC, may not speak on behalf of the organization without appropriate consultation with the SC, relevant subcommittees, and/or the organization as a whole (see Membership section as well).
MOC members who encounter an organization-related issue (e.g., a conflict arising between MOC and an outside organization) must approach the entire steering committee as a body. Per above, individual steering committee members cannot act on behalf of the committee without consultation with the rest of it, so any questions or concerns must be brought to the entire committee at the same time.
Regarding conflicts internal to MOC members: these will initiate resolution with the conflict resolution process (see below) and will proceed to the SC if necessary. Members experiencing conflicts within the organization should begin with the conflict resolution process.
2.2 Elected Positions
- Membership Coordinator: listserv, welcomes, questionnaires (see §3); 2. Conflict Resolution Committee (3 members) (see §4.3);
- Secretary and Mentorship Coordinator: calendar, CFPs, scheduling, announcements, mentorship activity (see §5);
- Public Outreach/Website Committee: MOC website and public contact email address, outreach to the general public and medieval studies, including conferences (see §6);
- Threat Response and Activism: monitoring activity outside organization, initiating collective statements (see §7);
Ad hoc committees are appointed as needed by the SC.
Liaison positions may be volunteered or appointed by the SC as needed (see §6.3)
Elected position: Membership Coordinator (with the possible addition of committee members depending on availability of candidates).
Membership of the organization is in principle open to anyone who identifies as a medievalist and as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, or person of color), finds themselves reflected in the Vision and Mission statement, and agrees to behave in accordance with the established Code of Conduct (§4). Membership of the Organization is currently free.
Both “medievalist” and “BIPOC” are terms whose definition is and possibly should not be defined in any fixed way. As a rule, the Organization trusts in people’s capacity to self-identify in good faith.
3.1 Becoming a member
The main platform of the MOC is the MOC listserv. Membership of the MOC entails membership of the listserv.
MOC welcomes faculty as well as independent scholars and graduate students, but the members-only MOC listserv is not open to undergraduates.
Each person who wants to be a member of MOC will receive a form letter detailing rights and responsibilities. The individual will fill out an online form (via the MOC website) including basic information such as name, email, affiliation (if any) and field/interests (intellectual and professional). If questions or concerns arise regarding a person’s suitability for membership, the Membership Coordinator will contact the person directly.
The Membership Coordinator/Committee will track the names submitted to the online form, and the Listserv Administrator(s) will add the person to the members-only MOC listserv. Only MOC members who have filled out the form and who are also on the MOC listserv can vote in MOC decisions. In order to ensure the safety of all members, communication on the MOC membership list is private and its contents/discussions must not circulate beyond confirmed MOC members. Any person who violates MOC privacy will be removed from the list (see §4).
Membership of the Organization requires an explicit introduction to the listserv (written at most one week after joining), including a brief account of a research or professional interest in the area of medieval studies.
Members of the Organization uphold and support the objectives of the Organization through various forms of activism, mentorship, and scholarship.
Joining the MOC entails agreement to allow the Membership Coordinator/Committee to share your name and email with the SC and other relevant committees of MOC; and every member has the right to view their own membership information in its entirety at any point.
3.2 Leaving the MOC
Any request to leave the MOC needs to be directed to the Membership Coordinator. Upon leaving the MOC, the member’s access to the listserv as well as any other MOC platform will be revoked and their personal data will be removed from the MOC administration. In cases where serious conflicts and concerns regarding harassment or other situations of unsafety cannot be resolved after attempts at communication (see §4.3), the possibility of revoking MOC membership may be raised in consultation between the Steering and Grievance Committees and member(s) involved; again, see §4.3.
3.3 Official Membership Online Platforms
MOC members are encouraged to bear in mind MOC’s goals in all online and social media spaces: social media activity should show care and respect for all members, even in instances of disagreement, and members should make other members’ safety, privacy, and sense of welcome a priority, particularly for those members most vulnerable.
3.3.1 MOC Listserv (Google Groups)
The listserv is for general discussion and announcements such as CFPs, conferences, panels, workshops, social events, forthcoming publications, jobs and positions, social media responses, and similar items. Its primary purpose is to serve as an informational platform for Medievalists of Color of all countries, academic disciplines, levels of study, and professional ranks. Any Medievalist of Color may contact the list administrator through the relevant contact information listed on the MOC website and request to subscribe to the listserv. Subscription does not imply or obligate involvement in the organizational efforts of the Medievalist of Color organization, nor does it confer related rights, such as speaking within or outside the organization on behalf of MOC.
3.3.2 MOC Slack
The Medievalist of Color Slack is the designated, secure channel for devising and implementing formal action related to the organizational work of the Medievalists of Color. Such actions include drafting public statements, official responses, steering-related decision-making and coordination, conference liaising and related proposals, and professional development (e.g., support for job market and fellowship applications). Those wishing to join the MOC Slack site should sign up for Slack using their preferred email address and request to join the workspace “mocwebsite.”
- We prioritize our members’ safety and commit to exploring non-police-based structures to ensure that safety.
- Membership in MOC is not to be used for political campaigning at local, state, or national levels; nor is it to be used for traditional “diversity work” as public relations work that fails to address fundamental issues of inequity.
4. Code of Conduct and Ethics
Elected positions: Conflict Resolution Committee (three members, all equally empowered)
4.1 Ethical Leadership and Individual Conduct
Leadership within MOC as well as individuals representing MOC outside of it should exhibit individual leadership in such a way as to maintain the highest standards of ethical and respectful conduct. All leaders and members of MOC should strive to be ethical in all professional interactions within and outside of MOC, in person and online. The nature of group’s subject matter will inevitably lead to differences of opinion, both inside and outside the group, and the expression and discussion of these differences will be an important way for the field to move forward. It is important to express these differences respectfully and in ways that observe the realities of academic power dynamics, as well as the circumstances of those most vulnerable, inside and outside the group.
4.2 Equity and Justice
As a heterogeneous group of people who self-identify as Medievalists of Color in a variety of ways, we are all responsible for ethically promoting and fostering equity and justice for all MOC members and potential members. We aim to create and sustain this environment not only within MOC as an organization but also within Medieval Studies and the Academy more broadly; in this way MOC as an organization can reach its fullest potential in a positive, affirming, and productive way.
Thus, all members of MOC should
- Respect the uniqueness and worth of each individual within MOC;
- Treat all members within MOC with dignity, respect, and compassion to foster a trusting environment for all, free from harassment and intimidation (online or in person), and act with good faith, honesty, and integrity;
- Ensure that as many voices as possible are heard before moving forward with an organizational decision or position;
- Remember our core value of inclusivity in our aim to change the field of Medieval Studies and continue to embody and enact such a value; and
- Support decisions, regardless of our personal interest, made by MOC as a collective that are ethical.
4.3 Conflict Resolution
The purpose of Conflict Resolution is to ensure the care of all MOCs within the Organization. Because MOC is comprised of a heterogeneous group of people, conflict resolution is critical in sustaining an ethical working organization where all members are able to work together. Because MOC aims to integrate scholarly and activist work, members’ interactions with each other as related to the work of the organization can be uniquely challenging. While our scholarly identity makes the presence of academic hierarchy impossible to disregard, at the same time our political goals often require that MOC members communicate, collaborate, and reach consensus with each other across hierarchical strata. When possible, members are encouraged to resolve conflict by dealing directly with each other in the process of moving forward with the organization’s broader aims. At the same time, protecting those most vulnerable is always an organizational priority. When conversation cannot be initiated directly for reasons of possible power abuse or conflict of interest, or because of other concerns, members may ask the Conflict Resolution Committee to intervene.
The Conflict Resolution Committee will contain three elected members who serve for two years; they will act independently of the Steering Committee as third-party negotiators and will consult with the Steering Committee for advice on a case-by-case basis. If a conflict arises and any member involved chooses to seek resolution through the organization’s channels, they must email all three members of the Conflict Resolution Committee, not just one member. MOC members should correspond with each other directly or use a designated organizational channel; they should not address conflicts in a public venue, such the MOC listserv or any unofficial social media space. Moreover, the Conflict Resolution Committee will use an external third party, who is not a member of the Steering Committee, to assist in negotiations between the involved parties if more than one person on the Committee has a conflict of interest with one or more of the involved parties.
Conflicts brought to the committee should not be personal, but professional. Conflicts as defined here refer to interactions relating to MOC as an organization. These conflicts should not lead to personal vendettas nor public discussion of these conflicts. The best course of action when a dispute or feud arises is to negotiate a resolution that works for both parties and that will improve the relationship between the two parties as well. In cases where members continue to refuse to abide by expectations of safe and respectful behavior, the matter will forward to the Steering Committee for possible revocation of membership.
The following is modified from Community Tool Box:
The Community Toolbox proposes seven steps to successfully negotiating the resolution of a conflict. Their schema involves beginning with direct communication with the opposition; MOC members may choose this route or they may move directly to involving the Conflict Resolution Committee, depending on any involved member’s or members’ assessment of the individual situation.
- Understand the conflict
- Communicate directly with the opposition when possible
- Brainstorm possible resolutions
- Choose the best resolution
- If necessary, or in cases where steps 2-4 are not possible, use a third party mediator (in the case of MOC, this is the Conflict Resolution Committee)
- Explore alternatives
- Cope with stressful situations and pressure tactics
For a specific breakdown of the above steps in successfully negotiating the resolution of a conflict, please see Appendix A.
5. Coordination of Mentorship Activities, Calendar, and Announcements
Elected position: Mentorship and Calendar Coordinator (with the addition of other committee members, to be chaired by the coordinator, if availability and interest exist among the membership).
Those filling these elected positions will take responsibility for these tasks, which are expected to develop further as the organization grows.
6. Public Outreach, Website, and Conferences
Elected positions: Website/Outreach Committee Coordinator (chairing possible additional committee members volunteering as indicated below, particularly in §6.3);
Editorial Committee (two members; one may overlap with Website/Outreach Committee)
Volunteer positions: conference liaisons on a case-by-case basis (volunteering in consultation with SC); conference liaison subcommittees
A statement/project/proposal by a member of the Organization is not automatically the same as a statement from the Organization. Including a member of the Organization in an event is not automatically the same as including the Organization. See below as well as the section on conference liaison work for further information about organizational sponsorship/endorsement.
6.1 Public Engagement
PR/Outreach might include a newsletter, website, reaching out to more MOCs as well as reaching out to non-medievalist groups working on race. PR/Outreach may also promote the work of MOCs.
6.2 Website –medievalistsofcolor.com
The MOC website is the online, public face of the Medievalists of Color organization, accessible to scholars as well as the general public. It is a venue for publishing official statements, responses, and other items of public discourse, distributing workshop materials (such as readings for Whiteness Workshops at ICMS Kalamazoo), and relevant scholarly, pedagogical, and mentorship resources. The Website/Outreach Committee should also (in consultation with the Steering Committee) monitor and respond to any inquiries sent to the publicly advertised MOC contact email.
Liaison, sponsorship, and co-sponsorship procedures (representatives who act as relays between MOC and outside orgs/groups): The designation “liaison” can mean many different things, but MOC has specific expectations for this relationship. If a MOC member wishes to work with a conference by acting as a liaison OR proposing MOC-sponsored sessions; or a conference wishes to work with a MOC liaison; or if a specific MOC is approached to be a liaison, the relevant parties must begin by contacting the Steering Committee and Outreach Coordinator (if the latter position has been filled) so that everyone can discuss what this commitment entails and specifically how the organization external to MOC plans to support MOC’s work and goals. With that understanding established, the Steering Committee, Outreach Coordinator, and relevant MOC members will decide on a liaison for the specific conference or on
sponsoring or co-sponsoring sessions officially by MOC. A liaison can also solicit volunteers for a temporary subcommittee (attached to that particular conference) to assist the liaison. All MOC members should make note of this protocol. If an individual member is approached to perform liaison work or create a session officially sponsored by MOC as an organization, they should refer the soliciting organization to the Steering Committee and Outreach Coordinator (if the latter position has been filled), and/or approach the these officers themselves, to clarify expectations before making commitments.
Working with journals, book series, and research groups may also be part of MOC’s outreach and public-facing work, and here again, official endorsement of or sponsorship by MOC as an organization should be decided on in consultation among the Steering Committee, Outreach Coordinator (if the latter position has been filled), and relevant members involved in the project.
Note: MOC members will not photograph and disseminate each other’s images at conference panels without permission. Often in these conference settings we are doing activist work that is objectionable in the eyes of others in our field, and refraining from circulating images of people doing activist work is a standard safety procedure.
7. Activism/Threat Response
Elected positions: a Coordinator and additional committee members, if available, to be chaired by the coordinator. This committee will have the authority to function semi-autonomously, and therefore the trust of the Organization and SC, in cases of urgent response to threat.
7.1 Self-Defense (threat response)
- Self-defense involves responding to racist and other threats or attacks against the Organization. Because these situations often require urgent response, this committee will function with a degree of autonomy that will allow it to take action without waiting for every relevant member in a leadership position to approve if they are not available for immediate comment. The committee will obtain feedback to the extent feasible regarding their plans but, as above, will simultaneously need the trust of the Organization and its leadership to make decisions regarding actions intended to protect the Organization and its members.
- Internal Activist Education (identifying threats, threat updates, information on defense, etc.) “info kits”
7.2 Care (inward facing)
- Self-Education/Self-Care (how to work on yourself within POC spaces and negotiate white spaces)
Members may make amendments to any aspect of this constitution, subject to consultation with the steering committee followed by a membership-wide vote.
1. UNDERSTAND THE CONFLICT
Conflicts arise for a variety of different reasons. It is important for you to define clearly your own position and interests in the conflict, and to understand those of your opponent. Here are some questions to ask yourself so that you can better define the conflict.
- What are my interests?
- What do I really care about in this conflict?
- What do I want?
- What do I need?
- What are my concerns, hopes, fears?
- What kinds of agreements might we reach?
- What objective standard might convince us that an agreement is fair? For example: a law, an expert opinion, the market value of the transaction.
- Is there a precedent that would convince us that an agreement is fair?
- What are the interests of my opposition?
- If I were in their shoes, what would I really care about in this conflict?
- What do they want?
- What do they need?
- What are their concerns, hopes, fears?
Interests play an important role in better understanding conflict. Often, groups waste time “bargaining over positions.” Instead of explaining what the interests of their position are, they argue about their “bottom line.” This is not a useful way to negotiate because it forces groups to stick to one narrow position. Once they are entrenched in a particular position, it will be embarrassing for them to abandon it. They may spend more effort on “saving face” than on actually finding a suitable resolution. It is usually more helpful to explore the group’s interests, and then see what positions suit such interests.
2. COMMUNICATE DIRECTLY WITH THE OPPOSITION
Here are some tips for productive talks with the opposition:
- Exercise Active Listening. Listen compassionately and then repeat back to them what you understand to be the center of the conflict in their perspective before voicing your own. Remember not to be thinking about your response while the other person is speaking; truly listen to their side of things before speaking in your turn. It is important that you validate each other’s experiences and perceptions of the conflict before you can move forward.
- Let everyone involved in the conflict participate who wants to. People who participate will have a stake in a resolution.
- Talk about your strong emotions. Let the other side let off steam, and remember that everyone is entitled to their emotions. They are not, however, entitled to negative reactions based on their emotional responses that hurt other members of the Organization.
- Don’t, however, react to emotional outbursts! Try an apology instead of yelling back. Apologizing is not costly, and is often a rewarding technique.
- Remember, be an active listener. Rephrase what you’re hearing as a question: “Let me see if I’m following you. You’re saying that… Have I got that right?” You can still be firm when you’re listening. But be careful not to fall into passive aggressiveness.
- Speak about yourself, not the other party. In the textbook example, you might say, “I feel angry to know that my children are reading this antiquated textbook,” rather than, “How could you choose such a racist book?” Also remember that “I feel” statements should always precede an adjective, not an action, such as “I feel attacked,” which puts the onus of your emotions on the person supposedly “attacking.” Instead, try saying, “I feel hurt because I perceive your words as being very harsh/critical. Did you mean to come across in such a way?”
- Be concrete, but flexible. Speak about your interests and needs, not about your position, and remember that wants and needs are very different things.
- Avoid early judgments. Keep asking clarifying questions and gathering information. In the same vein, when you respond, avoid building false binaries of right/wrong and using other judgment words. Instead, words like agree/disagree allow more room for productive dialogue.
- Don’t tell the opposition, “It’s up to you to solve your problems.” Remember that negotiations are not about one person getting their way or solving the problem for themselves; it’s about facilitating open discourse and reaching a compromise that both/all parties can be happy with.
- Reiterate the terms of compromise before ending the conversation. Keep in mind that these conversations can sometimes take a long time–a break may even be necessary–but always return by an agreed to time, and reiterate what all parties have agreed upon (that is, the compromise) before closing the conversation.
3. BRAINSTORM POSSIBLE RESOLUTIONS
Now that you know what the interests of both parties are, and how to better communicate with the opposition, you can start thinking about solutions. Look at all of the interests you have listed, for you and for your opponents, and look for common interests. Often both parties share many interests — for example, both groups may want stability and public respect. If direct communication is not possible, then the following steps can be taken during mediation, more information about which is provided in Section 5 below.
Before you hold a brainstorming meeting, think carefully about how you’ll set up the meeting. Write a clear purpose statement for the meeting. Meetings will necessarily be held via video chat, such as Zoom, Skype, or even Facebook Messenger, due to the widespread locations of the membership of the Organization. The Conflict Resolution Committee will act as an unbiased facilitator as a collective in the event that direct communication has failed, and it can structure the meeting without sharing their own feelings about the conflict.
- Note: As mentioned above in Section 4 “Code of Conduct and Ethics,” the Conflict Resolution Committee will use an external third party to help in negotiations if more than one person on the Committee has a conflict of interest with one or more of the involved parties.
To begin brainstorming, decide whether you want to brainstorm with your opposition, or with only your group. In either case, you will want to establish some community norms.
- Work on coming up with as many ideas as possible. Don’t judge or criticize the ideas yet — that might prevent people from thinking creatively.
- Try to maximize (not minimize) your options.
- Look for compromises, in which both parties get something they want.
- The facilitator will remind people of the purpose of the meeting, ask for everyone to contribute to community norms, and ask participants to agree to those norms. During the brainstorming session, the facilitator will write down all ideas, preferably in a shared Google Doc.
4. CHOOSE THE BEST RESOLUTION
After the meeting, you will need to decide which resolution is best. Review your brainstorm ideas. Star the best ideas – these are what you will work with during the conflict resolution process if you feel that you need mediation still. Set a time to discuss them and determine which idea is the best.
The goal here is to use both groups’ skills and resources to get the best result for everyone. Which resolution gives both groups the most? That resolution is probably the best one.
5. USE A THIRD PARTY MEDIATOR
Here are some other possible jobs for a mediator (aka the Conflict Resolution Committee or other third-party negotiator as needed):
- Setting community norms for you and your opponent to agree upon (for example, you might both agree not to publicly discuss the dispute or to continue the dispute on social media)
- Creating an appropriate setting for meetings
- Suggesting possible ways to compromise
- Being an “ear” for both side’s anger and fear
- Listening to both sides and explaining their positions to one another
- Finding the interests behind each side’s positions
- Looking for practical options for compromise
- Keeping both parties focused, reasonable, and respectful
- Preventing any party from feeling that it’s “losing face”
- Writing the draft of your agreement with the opposition
6. EXPLORE ALTERNATIVES
There may be times when, despite your hard work and good will, you cannot find an acceptable resolution to your conflict. You need to think about this possibility before you begin negotiations. At what point will you decide to walk away from negotiations? What are your alternatives if you cannot reach an agreement with your opponent?
It is important that you brainstorm your alternatives to resolution early on in the negotiation process, and that you always have your best alternative somewhere in the back of your mind. As you consider possible agreements with your opponent, compare them to this “best” alternative. If you don’t know what the alternative is, you’ll be negotiating without all the necessary information!
In order to come up with an alternative, start by brainstorming. Then, consider the pros and cons of each alternative. Think about which alternative is realistic and practical. Also think about how you can make it even better.
At the same time, don’t forget to put yourself in the shoes of your opposition. What alternatives might they have? Why might they choose them? What can you do to make your choice better than their alternative?
7. COPE WITH STRESSFUL SITUATIONS AND PRESSURE TACTICS
So far, we’ve talked about how to negotiate with a fairly reasonable opponent. However, you need to be prepared to negotiate with all kinds of opponents, both reasonable and unreasonable. What if your opponent is more powerful and influential than you are? What if they refuse to meet or talk with you?
All of these situations are stressful, and intended to put extra pressure on you to make a quick decision in the opposition’s favor. When a situation like this takes place, stay calm and go slow. Don’t get angry or make a rushed decision. Instead, talk about the pressure tactic without judging.
SOME POSSIBLE SITUATIONS
My opponent is more powerful
If you have already decided on your best alternative, you have nothing to fear. You can walk away at any time, and go that route instead. Think about everything that you can do, and that your mediator can do. Although you may be less powerful, at least you will be negotiating with all the available information.
My opponent won’t budge
In a situation like this, you may be tempted to do the same thing: “If you won’t change your mind, neither will I!” However, you will fail if you insist on sticking to your position. Instead, treat your opponent’s position as a real possibility. Ask several questions. Listen to their logic. Understand what their interests are, and what it is that they really want. Learn what their criticisms of your idea are. The more you know about where they’re coming from, the better a resolution you can create.