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The P.A.U.S.E Approach to Cooperative Negotiation

Pastors have learned that where two or more are gathered, there will be conflict. This means if you avoid addressing conflict, you avoid a major responsibility of ministry.

Ken Sande, in his classic book, The Peacemaker, recommends pastors consider an approach he calls cooperative negotiation when managing personal or corporate conflict. He notes that cooperative negotiation is highly recommended in Scripture (Phil. 2:3-4 and Matt. 7:12) by commanding us to have loving concern for the well-being of others. Yet, such concern for others does not mean abandoning our demands or not looking out for our own interests (Phil. 2:4).

Sande suggests such passages describe cooperative negotiation as balancing the tension between love and wisdom. Such a balance can be achieved through a five step process Sande summarizes using the P.A.U.S.E. acronym: Prepare, Affirm, Understand, Search and Evaluate.

The P.A.U.S.E. Five Step Approach to Cooperative Negotiation


Preparation is the most critical component of effective cooperative negotiation. Preparation activities may include:

  • Prayer
  • Gathering pertinent scripture passages
  • Seeking wise counsel
  • Fact gathering
  • Identifying the core interests of each party
  • Identifying the core issues
  • Listing several alternatives
  • Anticipating reactions and responses
  • Planning your remarks
  • Determining the optimum time and place to talk


Early and often affirmation of the persons involved in the conflict is the second essential step in effective cooperative negotiation. Sincere affirmation opens the door for open and honest conversations around the key issues. Affirming usually involves the twin pillars of concern and respect and may be demonstrated by:

  • Offering compliments, praise and thanks
  • Being courteous
  • Recognizing and submitting to authority
  • Avoiding sarcastic and condescending statements
  • Starting the conversation by spending time on personal situations and concerns
  • Seeking first to understand through active listening
  • Addressing mistakes and sins in a grace filled manner
  • Acknowledging your own short comings
  • Creating outcomes that allow for face-saving


The third step in the P.A.U.S.E. process is to fully understand the interests of those involved in the conflict. Interests are at the heart of what motivates people to engage in a conflict, and are a perceived or felt concern, desire, need, or value. Conflict generally emanates from some level of depravation or fear of depravation of one’s interests. The more fully you understand and consider a person’s interests the more effective you can be in arriving at a successful solution to the conflict. This can be accomplished by:

  • Listing your own concerns under the headings off concerns, desires, needs and values
  • Listing the concerns of the other person’s under the same headings
  • Listing interests related to glorifying God
  • Listing interests related to serving God and others
  • Listing interests related to spiritual growth and Christlikeness
  • Placing these interests out in the open and clarifying understanding
  • Identifying areas of shared interest
  • Using these interest to determine the material issues you will need to resolve to reach agreement
  • Addressing the easiest issues first


The fourth step in the P.A.U.S.E. strategy is to search for solutions that will satisfy as many interests of both parties as possible. This step should include:

  • Spontaneous brainstorming
  • Encouraging creativity, innovation, imagination and third alternative solutions
  • Avoiding evaluation and judgement
  • Not assuming there is only one solution to the problem
  • Combining of solutions to create new options
  • Adding interests, or benefits, that have not yet been listed
  • Focusing on developing solutions that have mutual benefits


The final step is to objectively and reasonably analyze and evaluate each potential solution. This step should include:

  • Avoiding personal opinions
  • Using only objective criteria
  • Introducing pertinent facts
  • Reviewing pertinent policies, practices and precedent
  • Listening to professional opinions
  • Referencing relevant biblical passages and principles
  • Avoiding a battle of the wills






Posted on August 9, 2016

Jim Baker

Jim is a Church Organizational Leadership and Management Coach, Consultant and Trainer. Throughout his career Jim has demonstrated a passion for showing Pastors and Ministers how to use organizational tools for church and personal growth and health.

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“For I may be absent in body, but I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see how well ordered you are and the strength of your faith in Christ.” Colossians 2:5