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The Catalyst
The newsletter of the ISBA’s Standing Committee on Women and the Law

October 2006, vol. 12, no. 1

Negotiation and emotions, not mutually exclusive concepts

Negotiation is part of the fabric of your daily lives and the key function of much of work as attorneys, as mothers, as spouses, as committee members, etc. Often times as women we hear criticism that we may be “too” emotional in our daily interactions. With all that in mind I offer to you an overview of a wonderful book entitled Beyond Reason, Using Emotions as You Negotiate, Roger Fisher and Daniel Shapiro (Viking, 2005). Fisher, a law professor (of Getting to Yes fame), and Shapiro, a psychologist, are both directors of the Harvard Negotiation Project.

The basic premise of their work is that emotions, like breathing, don’t just stop and cannot be ignored because we are engaged in negotiation. Shapiro and Fisher theorize that there are distinct primary factors which are present in all negotiations, whether one is negotiating with a child about bedtime or with a world leader about social issues. These basic factors can be categorized into what Fisher and Shapiro call the “five core concerns”: (1) Appreciation; (2) Affiliation; (3) Autonomy; (4) Status; (5) Role. 

The core concerns have two uses: (1) as a lens—to diagnose a situation; and (2) as a lever—to improve a situation. Core concerns are not emotions but stimulate emotions. Positive emotions simulate cooperative behavior which leads to productive discussion, consensus building and genuine agreement, even if the agreement is to disagree. The book contains several charts which clarifies and diagrams the effect meeting and not meeting concerns has on negotiation - example, Table 3, page 17, which shows:

Core Concern This Concern is Ignored When... This Concern is Met When...

Appreciation Your thoughts, feelings or action are devalued Your thoughts, feelings and actions are acknowledged as having merit

Affiliation You are treated as an adversary and kept at a distance You are treated as a colleague

Autonomy--Your freedom to make decisions is impinged upon Other respect your freedom to decide important matters

Status--Your relative standing is treated as inferior to that of others Your standing where deserved is given full recognition

Role--Your current role and its activities are not personally fulfilling You so define your role and its activities that you find them fulfilling

The work focuses on the power of meeting core concerns and gives practical applications in real life scenarios. Table 4, page 19, diagrams positive outcomes which can be achieve by meeting core concerns.

My Core Concerns Are Met When: The Resulting Emotions Can Make Me Feel: When This Happens, I Am Prone:

I am appreciated

I am treated as a colleague

My freedom to decide is acknowledged

My high status is recognized where deserved

My role is fulfilling; it includes activities that convince me that I can make a difference.






















*Hopeful To cooperate

*To work together

*To be creative

*To be trustworthy

Fisher and Shapiro suggest that in truly effective negotiation the core concerns can be used to stimulate positive emotions in ourselves and others by:

*• expressing appreciation;

*• respecting autonomy;

*• building affiliation;

*• acknowledging status

*• shaping fulfilling roles

Much of which, I believe, is ignored in the “winner take all” traditional adversarial negotiations which we as lawyers encounter on a daily basis, even those of use who do transactional work. However, I believe, much of what Fisher and Shapiro describes is already incorporate into Collaborative Practice model of dispute resolution under the “respectful communication” and “team approach” ideals which are “core concerns” of that model. Some members of the Harvard Negotiation Project are also active in the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP), the international organization dedicated to the growth of the Collaborative Practice model. IACP will host its annual Forum this year in San Diego in October. I welcome you to see <> for additional information regarding that model. I recommend this work as a “must read” for all negotiators and dispute resolution professionals, including litigators (who after all are dispute resolution professional too!). Thank you for Catalyst readers once again you time and attention. 

Sandra Crawford, J.D.
Attorney, Mediator and Collaborative Professional