Looking for Common Ground. A Dispute Resolution Strategy that seeks to find the common ground, interests, positions, concerns held by disputing parties in an endeavour to effectively resolve the dispute. 

Do you remember the last time you experienced conflict with someone ?

You were angry and understandably so. But, you had not anticipated the disagreement ending up in the outright war of words that it had soon become. You traded blows – sentence for sentence. You annihilated character and were also destroyed in the process.  None of this had been the prize you had sought. You lamented that you had not known how to call a cease-fire in this unnecessary war. You mourned that this friend, colleague, significant other had become your opponent. You grieved the lost opportunities for peace.  But war is not your legacy.   Similarly, harmony is within closer reach than anticipated.


Look for common ground in a disputed area and bring it to the forefront of your communication. “Listen, we are on the same side, we just see things from a different perspective – let’s chat about it”.

Try to listen out for the mid-point between your and the other person’s opinion. Where do your opinions coincide ? Where do they part ways ?

Emphasize areas of commonality.  “I agree with you on that point, but what I have a problem with is….”

Acknowledge what the other person has said.  “I hear what you are saying about … I acknowledge that it is a critical point for you, but I feel that…..”

Limit your expertise about feelings to the ones you are experiencing. Do not try to tell someone else how they should be feeling, or what they are currently feeling.

In a nutshell:

  • Search out commonality.
  • Maintain respect.
  • Listen as if you were talking to a stranger.

Finding peace in the middle of war is instinctively not our first reflective action. In contrast, self-defence is. But you can change old habits in favour of new ones, granted not easily, but over time. As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Peace is it’s own reward”. Similarly, finding common ground, is like stumbling on unmined treasure.

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