Michael Covel speaks with Daniel Shapiro. Dan is author of “Negotiating the Nonnegotiable.” He demonstrates negotiation as a process and quantifiable. His work tries to articulate practical negotiation skills based on the most recent science. Dan’s work started when he was working in eastern central Europe when countries were going from open, to closed societies. He wanted to help people deal with conflict more effectively especially the emotional side of it, and more specifically, dealing with identity. He looked at: Do relationships matter in negotiations? Do emotions matter? And how do you deal with them? He has spent the last 20 to 25 years learning how these intertwine. Dan’s website sums up his work perfectly saying, “Drawing on these experiences and his years of research at Harvard, he has developed a wealth of practical approaches to amplify influence and leadership—in business, in government, and in life.”
Dan and Michael start off discussing, “What gets us so stuck in emotionally charged conflicts?” This is a question that drives Dan and his work. In the early 1990’s Dan was working with refugee’s in Yugoslavia hoping to promote good communication. He was doing a workshop in Serbia where he met a women who shared a personal story of tragedy that has stuck with him for the last 24 years. His work is a homage to help people who may feel hopeless, like there could not be any more room for negotiation. Michael says, “Well aren’t there some situations where negotiation is not even on the table and things are just going to play out?” So often we get into ruts of feeling this way, thinking there is no possible way out, but more often than not there is always negotiations that can take place. There is always a way out.
Next, Michael asks, “Don’t both people need to be willing to negotiate to enter a negotiation?” The short answer is no. It only takes one side to move toward a resolution. Also, don’t ever assume that both sides of a conflict need to be rational. The classic challenge within conflicts that he sees is “How do you deal with an irrational person?” Everyone thinks that they are the rational ones and the opposite party is irrational.
Michael and Dan move on to discuss BATNA. BATNA is an acronym for; Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement. It is your “walkaway alternative”. Most people walk away to a worst situation than they were in. You always need to think rationally and not emotionally about your alternative. Lastly, Dan gives an overview of what he calls the five lures of the tribal mind; vertigo, repetition compulsion, taboos, assault on the sacred and identity politics. Dan expands and gives examples of these lures. He says that these concepts are obvious and everyone has experienced them. He just puts words to these feelings that people have so people can identify and help work through them.
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