The Negotiator Magazine

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Reader's Review

John Baker

Beyond Reason: Using Emotions as You Negotiate
By Roger Fisher and Daniel Shapiro
256pp. New York: Viking, 2005.
Hardcover Edition (US) $ 25.95

Many negotiators will recognize Roger Fisher as a co-author of the best-selling negotiation classic: Getting to Yes (1981). Fisher is the Samuel Williston Professor of Law Emeritus and Director of the Harvard Negotiation Project. Daniel Shapiro is the Associate Director of the Harvard Negotiation Project, teaches negotiation at Harvard Law School and is a member of the psychiatry department at Harvard Medical School/McLean Hospital. This book is the result of the collaboration of the two men for several years on a course at Harvard Law School that examined the role of emotion in negotiation.

On the first page of the book, the authors tell the reader: "you will learn a strategy to generate positive emotions and to deal with negative ones" (p. ix). It is a promise immediately underscored as they add: "this strategy is powerful enough to use in your toughest negotiation " (p. x). It is a strong commitment indeed. In my view they deliver as promised.

Managing one's emotions can often be an incredibly daunting task on any given day. Add to this enterprise the need to manage the emotional stew of multiple parties interacting in a negotiation under the pressure of important decisions and the task expands powerfully. Let us see what Fisher and Shapiro have provided to assist us.

The job, they point out, requires that we "address the concern, not the emotion" (p. 15). With this advice in mind, the authors begin their work by focusing on five core concerns. These universal human wants are:

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October 2005