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Getting to


“Getting to YES has an unrivaled place in the literature of dispute resolution. No other book in the field comes close to its impact on
the way practitioners, teachers, researchers, and the public approach negotiation.”

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“Getting to YES is a highly readable and practical primer on the fundamentals of negotiation. All of us, as negotiators dealing with
personal, community, and business problems, need to improve our skills in conflict resolution and agreement making. This concise
volume is the best place to begin.”


“This splendid book will help turn adversarial battling into hardheaded problem solving.”

“Getting to YES is a highly readable, uncomplicated guide to resolving conflicts of every imaginable dimension. It teaches you how to
win without compromising friendships. I wish I had written it!”


“Getting to YES is powerful, incisive, persuasive. Not a bag of tricks but an overall approach. Perhaps the most useful book you will
ever read!”


“Simple but powerful ideas that have already made a contribution at the international level are here made available to all. Excellent
advice on how to approach a negotiating problem.”



Getting to

The authors of this book have been working together since 1977.

ROGER FISHER is Williston Professor of Law Emeritus at Harvard Law School, Founder and Director Emeritus of the Harvard Negotiation
Project, and the Founding Chair of the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School. Raised in Illinois, he served in World War II with the
U.S. Army Air Force, in Paris with the Marshall Plan, and in Washington, D.C., with the Department of Justice. He has also practiced law in
Washington and served as a consultant to the Department of Defense. He was the originator and executive editor of the award-winning
television series The Advocates. He has consulted widely with governments, corporations, and individuals. He is the author or coauthor of
numerous prize-winning scholarly and popular books, including his most recent: Beyond Reason: Using Emotions as You Negotiate.

WILLIAM URY is cofounder of Harvard’s Program on Negotiation and Distinguished Fellow of the Harvard Negotiation Project. Raised in
California and Switzerland, he is a graduate of Yale and Harvard, with a doctorate in social anthropology. Ury has served as a mediator and
advisor in negotiations ranging from wildcat strikes to ethnic wars around the world. He was a consultant to the White House on establishing
nuclear risk reduction centers in Washington and Moscow. His most recent project is Abraham’s Path, a route of cross-cultural travel in the
Middle East that retraces the footsteps of Abraham, the progenitor of many cultures and faiths. Ury’s most recent book is The Power of a
Positive No: Save the Deal, Save the Relationship, and Still Say No.

BRUCE PATTON is Cofounder and Distinguished Fellow of the Harvard Negotiation Project, cofounder of the Program on Negotiation at
Harvard Law School, and a founder and partner of Vantage Partners, LLC, a consulting firm that helps Global 2000 companies negotiate and
manage their most critical relationships. As a mediator, he helped structure the settlement of the U.S.–Iranian hostage conflict, worked with
Nobel Peace Prize winner Óscar Arias to ensure the success of the Arias Peace Plan for Central America, and worked with all parties in
South Africa helping to create the constitutional process that ended apartheid. A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, he is
also coauthor of the New York Times bestseller Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most.


Beyond Reason: Using Emotions as You Negotiate
(with Dan Shapiro, 2005)

Lateral Leadership: Getting Things Done When You’re NOT the Boss
(with Alan Sharp, 1998)

Coping with International Conflict: A Systematic Approach to Influence in International Negotiation (with Andrea Kupfer Schneider,
Elizabeth Borgwardt, and Brian Ganson, 1996)

Beyond Machiavelli
(with Elizabeth Kopelman and Andrea Kupfer Schneider, 1994)

Getting Together: Building Relationships As We Negotiate
(with Scott Brown, 1988)

Improving Compliance with International Law (1981)

International Mediation: A Working Guide; Ideas for the Practitioner
(with William Ury, 1978)

International Crises and the Role of Law: Points of Choice (1978)

Dear Israelis, Dear Arabs: A Working Approach to Peace (1972)

International Conflict for Beginners (1969)

International Conflict and Behavioral Science: The Craigville Papers
(editor and coauthor, 1964)


The Power of a Positive No:
Save the Deal, Save the Relationship, and Still Say No (2007)

Must We Fight? (editor and coauthor, 2001)

The Third Side: Why We Fight and How We Can Stop (2000)

Getting Past No: Negotiating in Difficult Situations (1991, revised edition 1993)

Windows of Opportunity: From Cold War to Peaceful Competition in U.S.–Soviet Relations
(edited with Graham T. Allison and Bruce J. Allyn, 1989)

Getting Disputes Resolved: Designing Systems to Cut the Costs of Conflict
(with Jeanne M. Brett and Stephen B. Goldberg, 1988)

Beyond the Hotline: How Crisis Control Can Prevent Nuclear War (1985)


Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most
(with Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen, 1999, 2nd Edition 2010)

Getting to







Published by the Penguin Group

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First published in the United States of America by Houghton Mifflin Company 1981
Published in Penguin Books 1983
Second edition published 1991
This third edition published 2011

1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2

  • Copyright
  • © Roger Fisher and William Ury, 1981, 1991

    Copyright © Roger Fisher, William Ury, and Bruce Patton, 2011
    All rights reserved

    Research at Harvard University is undertaken with the expectation of publication. In such publication the authors alone are responsible for
    statements of fact, opinions, recommendations, and conclusions expressed. Publication in no way implies approval or endorsement by Harvard

    University, any of its faculties, or by the President and Fellows of Harvard College.

    Fisher, Roger, 1922–
    Getting to yes : negotiating agreement without giving in / by Roger Fisher, William Ury,

    and Bruce Patton. — 3rd ed.
    p. cm.

    ISBN 9781101539545
    1. Negotiation. I. Ury, William. II. Patton, Bruce. III. Title.

    BF637.N4F57 2011
    158′.5—dc22 2011006319

    Except in the United States of America, this book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold,
    hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published

    and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
    The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal

    and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of
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    To our fathers,

    who by example taught us the power of principle.

    Preface to the Third Edition

    Thirty years have now passed since the initial publication of Getting to YES. We are delighted and
    humbled that so many people from so many places around the world continue to find it helpful in
    transforming their conflicts and negotiating mutually satisfying agreements. Little did we know at the time
    of its publication that this slender book would become a reference point in a quiet revolution that has over
    the course of three decades changed the way we make decisions within our families, organizations, and

    The negotiation revolution
    A generation ago, the prevailing view of decision-making in most places was hierarchical. The people at
    the top of the pyramids of power—at work, in the family, in politics—were supposed to make the
    decisions and the people at the bottom of the pyramids to follow the orders. Of course, the reality was
    always more complicated.

    In today’s world, characterized by flatter organizations, faster innovation, and the explosion of the
    Internet, it is clearer than ever that to accomplish our work and meet our needs, we often have to rely on
    dozens, hundreds, perhaps thousands of individuals and organizations over whom we exercise no direct
    control. We simply cannot rely on giving orders—even when we are dealing with employees or children.
    To get what we want, we are compelled to negotiate. More slowly in some places, more rapidly in others,
    the pyramids of power are shifting into networks of negotiation. This quiet revolution, which accompanies
    the better-known knowledge revolution, could well be called the “negotiation revolution.”

    We began the first edition of Getting to YES with the sentence: “Like it or not, you are a negotiator.”
    Back then, for many readers, that was an eye opener. Now it has become an acknowledged reality. Back
    then, the term “negotiation” was more likely to be associated with specialized activities such as labor
    talks, closing a sale, or perhaps international diplomacy. Now almost all of us recognize that we negotiate
    in an informal sense with just about everyone we meet from morning to night.

    A generation ago, the term “negotiation” also had an adversarial connotation. In contemplating a
    negotiation, the common question in people’s minds was, “Who is going to win and who is going to
    lose?” To reach an agreement, someone had to “give in.” It was not a pleasant prospect. The idea that
    both sides could benefit, that both could “win,” was foreign to many of us. Now it is increasingly
    recognized that there are cooperative ways of negotiating our differences and that even if a “win-win”
    solution cannot be found, a wise agreement can still often be reached that is better for both sides than the

    When we were writing Getting to YES, very few courses taught negotiation. Now learning to negotiate
    well is accepted as a core competence with many courses offered in law schools, business schools,

    schools of government, and even in quite a few primary, elementary, and high schools.
    In short, the “negotiation revolution” is now in full sway around the world, and we take heart that the

    commonsense tenets of principled negotiation have spread far and wide to good effect.

    The work ahead
    Still, while progress has been considerable, the work is far from done. Indeed, at no time in the last three
    decades can we recall a greater need for negotiation based on a joint search for mutual gains and
    legitimate standards.

    A quick survey of the news on almost any day reveals the compelling need for a better way to deal
    with differences. How many people, organizations, and nations are stubbornly bargaining over positions?
    How much destructive escalation results in bitter family feuds, endless lawsuits, and wars without end?
    For lack of a good process, how many opportunities are being lost to find solutions that are better for both

    Conflict remains, as we have noted, a growth industry. Indeed, the advent of the negotiation revolution
    has brought more conflict, not less. Hierarchies tend to bottle up conflict, which comes out into the open
    as hierarchies give way to networks. Democracies surface rather than suppress conflict, which is why
    democracies often seem so quarrelsome and turbulent when compared with more authoritarian societies.

    The goal cannot and should not be to eliminate conflict. Conflict is an inevitable—and useful—part of
    life. It often leads to change and generates insight. Few injustices are addressed without serious conflict.
    In the form of business competition, conflict helps create prosperity. And it lies at the heart of the
    democratic process, where the best decisions result not from a superficial consensus but from exploring
    different points of view and searching for creative solutions. Strange as it may seem, the world needs
    more conflict, not less.

    The challenge is not to eliminate conflict but to transform it. It is to change the way we deal with our
    differences—from destructive, adversarial battling to hard-headed, side-by-side problem-solving. We
    should not underestimate the difficulty of this task, yet no task is more urgent in the world today.

    We are living in an age that future anthropologists might look back on and call the first human family
    reunion. For the first time, the entire human family is in touch, thanks to the communications revolution.
    All fifteen thousand or so “tribes” or language communities on this planet are aware of one another
    around the globe. And as with many family reunions, it is not all peace and harmony, but marked by deep
    dissension and resentment of inequities and injustices.

    More than ever, faced with the challenges of living together in a nuclear age on an increasingly
    crowded planet, for our own sake and the sake of future generations, we need to learn how to change the
    basic game of conflict.

    In short, the hard work of getting to “yes” has just begun.

    This edition
    We have often heard from readers that Getting to YES continues to serve as an accessible guide to
    collaborative negotiation in a wide variety of fields. At the same time, we realize a younger audience is
    sometimes puzzled by stories and examples that were common knowledge thirty years ago, and many
    readers are curious about contemporary cases. So in this edition we have undertaken a careful revision
    and updating of examples and added some new ones where appropriate.

    We have added to our toolbox considerably in thirty years, as captured in such books as Getting Past

    No, Difficult Conversations, Beyond Reason, and The Power of a Positive No, each of which explores
    important challenges in dealing collaboratively and effectively with serious differences. We’ve made no
    attempt to summarize all of that material here, since one of the virtues of Getting to YES is that it is short
    and clear. Instead, in this revision we have added a few relevant ideas where they help clarify our intent,
    and in other places made slight revisions to update our thinking. For example, we have made our answer
    to the final question in the book about negotiation power fully consistent with the “seven elements of
    negotiation” framework we teach at Harvard Law School.

    One adjustment we considered, but ultimately rejected, was to change the word “separate” to
    “disentangle” in “separate the people from the problem,” the powerful first step in the method of
    principled negotiation. Some readers have taken this phrase to mean leave aside the personal dimension
    of negotiation and just focus on the substantive problem, or to ignore emotional issues and “be rational.”
    That is not our intent. Negotiators should make dealing with people issues a priority from the beginning to
    the end of a negotiation. As the text states at the start, “Negotiators are people first.”

    Our belief is that by disentangling the people from the problem you can be “soft on the people” while
    remaining “hard on the problem.” So long as you remain respectful and attentive to people issues, you
    should be able to strengthen a relationship even as you disagree about substance.

    Finally, we have added a bit of material on the impact of the means of communication in negotiation.
    The growth of email and texting and the creation of global “virtual” organizations has made this an
    important variable, especially in light of research showing its impact on negotiation dynamics and results.

    Our human future
    We are each participants in a pioneering generation of negotiators. While negotiation as a decision-
    making process has been around since the beginning of the human story, never has it been so central to
    human life and the survival of our species.

    As the negotiation revolution unfolds, our aspiration is that the principles in this book continue to help
    people—individually and collectively—negotiate the myriad dilemmas in their lives. In the words of the
    poet Wallace Stevens: “After the final no there comes a yes and on that yes the future world depends.”

    We wish you much success in getting to that yes!

    Roger Fisher
    William Ury

    Bruce Patton

    Preface to the Second Edition

    During the last ten years negotiation as a field for academic and professional concern has grown
    dramatically. New theoretical works have been published, case studies have been produced, and
    empirical research has been undertaken. Ten years ago very few professional schools offered courses on
    negotiation; now they are all but universal. Universities are beginning to appoint faculty who specialize in
    negotiation. Consulting firms now do the same in the corporate world.

    Against this changing intellectual landscape, the ideas in Getting to YES have stood up well. They
    have gained considerable attention and acceptance from a broad audience and are frequently cited as
    starting points for other work. Happily, they remain persuasive to the authors as well. Most questions and
    comments have focused on areas in which the book has proven ambiguous, or where readers have wanted
    more specific advice. We have tried to address the most important of these topics in this revision.

    Rather than tampering with the text (and asking readers who know it to search for changes), we have
    chosen to add new material in a separate section at the end of the second edition. The main text remains
    complete and unchanged from the original, except for updating the figures in examples to keep pace with
    inflation and rephrasing in a few places to clarify meaning and eliminate sexist language. We hope that our
    answers to “Ten Questions People Ask About Getting to YES” prove helpful and meet some of the
    interests readers have expressed.

    We address questions about (1) the meaning and limits of “principled” negotiation (it represents
    practical, not moral, advice); (2) dealing with someone who seems to be irrational or who has a different
    value system, outlook, or negotiating style; (3) questions about tactics, such as where to meet, who should
    make the first offer, and how to move from inventing options to making commitments; and (4) the role of
    power in negotiation.

    More extensive treatment of some topics will have to await other books. Readers interested in more
    detail about handling “people issues” in negotiation in ways that tend to establish an effective working
    relationship might enjoy Getting Together: Building Relationships as We Negotiate, by Roger Fisher and
    Scott Brown, also available from Penguin Books. If dealing with difficult people and situations is more
    your concern, look for Getting Past No: Negotiating in Difficult Situations, by William Ury, published
    by Bantam Books. No doubt other books will follow. There is certainly much more to say about power,
    multilateral negotiations, cross-cultural transactions, personal styles, and many other topics.

    Once again we thank Marty Linsky, this time for taking a careful eye and a sharp pencil to our new
    material. Our special thanks to Doug Stone for his discerning critique, editing, and occasional rewriting
    of successive drafts of that material. He has an uncanny knack for catching us in an unclear thought or

    Roger Fisher
    William Ury

    Bruce Patton

    For more than a dozen years, Bruce Patton has worked with us in formulating and explaining all of the
    ideas in this book. This past year he has pulled the laboring oar in converting our joint thinking into an
    agreed text. It is a pleasure to welcome Bruce, editor of the first edition, as a full coauthor of this second


  • Acknowledgments
  • This book began as a question: What is the best way for people to deal with their differences? For
    example, what is the best advice one could give a husband and wife getting divorced who want to know
    how to reach a fair and mutually satisfactory agreement without ending up in a bitter fight? Perhaps more
    difficult, what advice would you give one of them who wanted to do the same thing? Every day, families,
    neighbors, couples, employees, bosses, businesses, consumers, salesmen, lawyers, and nations face this
    same dilemma of how to get to yes without going to war. Drawing on our respective backgrounds in
    international law and anthropology and an extensive collaboration over the years with practitioners,
    colleagues, and students, we have evolved a practical method for negotiating agreement amicably without
    giving in.

    We have tried out ideas on lawyers, businessmen, government officials, judges, prison wardens,
    diplomats, insurance representatives, military officers, coal miners, and oil executives. We gratefully
    acknowledge those who responded with criticism and with suggestions distilled from their experience.
    We benefited immensely.

    In truth, so many people have contributed so extensively to our learning over the years that it is no
    longer possible to say precisely to whom we are indebted for which ideas in what form. Those who
    contributed the most understand that footnotes were omitted not because we think every idea original, but
    rather to keep the text readable when we owe so much to so many.

    We could not fail to mention, however, our debt to Howard Raiffa. His kind but forthright criticism
    has repeatedly improved the approach, and his notions on seeking joint gains by exploiting differences
    and using imaginative procedures for settling difficult issues have inspired sections on these subjects.
    Louis Sohn, deviser and negotiator extraordinaire, was always encouraging, always creative, always
    looking forward. Among our many debts to him, we owe our introduction to the idea of using a single
    negotiating text, which we call the One-Text Procedure. And we would like to thank Michael Doyle and
    David Straus for their creative ideas on running brainstorming sessions.

    Good anecdotes and examples are hard to find. We are greatly indebted to Jim Sebenius for his
    accounts of the Law of the Sea Conference (as well as for his thoughtful criticism of the method), to Tom
    Griffith for an account of his negotiation with an insurance adjuster, and to Mary Parker Follett for the
    story of two men quarreling in a library.

    We want especially to thank all those who read this book in various drafts and gave us the benefit of
    their criticism, including our students in the January Negotiation Workshops of 1980 and 1981 at Harvard
    Law School, and Frank Sander, John Cooper, and William Lincoln, who taught those workshops with us.
    In particular, we want to thank those members of Harvard’s Negotiation Seminar whom we have not
    already mentioned; they listened to us patiently these last two years and offered many helpful suggestions:
    John Dunlop, James Healy, David Kuechle, Thomas Schelling, and Lawrence Susskind. To all of our

    friends and associates we owe more than we can say, but the final responsibility for the content of this
    book lies with the authors; if the result is not yet perfect, it is not for lack of our colleagues’ efforts.

    Without family and friends, writing would be intolerable. For constructive criticism and moral support
    we thank Caroline Fisher, David Lax, Frances Turnbull, and Janice Ury. Without Francis Fisher this book
    would never have been written. He had the felicity of introducing the two of us some four years ago.

    Finer secretarial help we could not have had. Thanks to Deborah Reimel for her unfailing competence,
    moral support, and firm but gracious reminders, and to Denise Trybula, who never wavered in her
    diligence and cheerfulness. And special thanks to the people at Word Processing, led by Cynthia Smith,
    who met the test of an endless series of drafts and near impossible deadlines.

    Then there are our editors. By reorganizing and cutting this book in half, Marty Linsky made it far
    more readable. To spare our readers, he had the good sense not to spare our feelings. Thanks also to Peter
    Kinder, June Kinoshita, and Bob Ross. June struggled to make the language less sexist. Where we have
    not succeeded, we apologize to those who may be offended. We also want to thank Andrea Williams, our
    adviser; Julian Bach, our agent; and Dick McAdoo and his associates at Houghton Mifflin, who made the
    production of this book both possible and pleasurable.

    Finally, we want to thank Bruce Patton, our friend and colleague, editor and mediator. No one has
    contributed more to this book. From the very beginning he helped brainstorm and organize the syllogism
    of the book. He has reorganized almost every chapter and edited every word. If books were movies, this
    would be known as a Patton Production.

    Roger Fisher
    William Ury

    For the second edition of this book we would like to thank Jane von Mehren, our long-time editor at
    Penguin Books, for her support, encouragement, and enthusiasm in making the second edition happen.
    With the third edition, Rick Kot has admirably filled that role and we are grateful for his patience, good
    sense, and fine editorial hand. Without Rick, this update might not have seen the light of day.

    We also thank Mark Gordon, Arthur Martirosyan, and our friends at Mercy Corps for the account of
    Iraqi farmers negotiating with the national oil company.


  • Contents
  • Preface to the Third Edition
    Preface to the Second Edition

  • Introduction

    1 Don’t Bargain Over Positions


    2 Separate the People from the Problem

    3 Focus on Interests, Not Positions

    4 Invent Options for Mutual Gain

    5 Insist on Using Objective Criteria

    III YES, BUT …

    6 What If They Are More Powerful?


    7 What If They Won’t Play?


    8 What If They Use Dirty Tricks?











    Like it or not, you are a negotiator. Negotiation is a fact of life. You discuss a raise with your boss. You
    try to agree with a stranger on a price for his house. Two lawyers try to settle a lawsuit arising from a car
    accident. A group of oil companies plan a joint venture exploring for offshore oil. A city official meets
    with union leaders to avert a transit strike. The United States Secretary of State sits down with his
    Russian counterpart to seek an agreement limiting nuclear arms. All these are negotiations.

    Everyone negotiates something every day. Like Molière’s Monsieur Jourdain, who was delighted to
    learn that he had been speaking prose all his life, people negotiate even when they don’t think of
    themselves as doing so. You negotiate with your spouse about where to go for dinner and with your child
    about when the lights go out. Negotiation is a basic means of getting what you want from others. It is back-
    and-forth communication designed to reach an agreement when you and the other side have some interests
    that are shared and others that are opposed (as well as some that may simply be different).

    More and more occasions require negotiation; conflict is a growth industry. Everyone wants to
    participate in decisions that affect them; fewer and fewer people will accept decisions dictated by
    someone else. People differ, and they use negotiation to handle their differences. Whether in business,
    government, or the family, people reach most decisions through negotiation. Even when they go to court,
    they almost always negotiate a settlement before trial.

    Although negotiation takes place every day, it is not easy to do well. Standard strategies for
    negotiation often leave people dissatisfied, worn out, or alienated—and frequently all three.

    People find themselves in a dilemma. They see two ways to negotiate: soft or hard. The soft negotiator
    wants to avoid personal conflict and so makes concessions readily to reach agreement. He or she wants
    an amicable resolution; yet often ends up exploited and feeling bitter. The hard negotiator sees any
    situation as a contest of wills in which the side that takes the more extreme positions and holds out longer
    fares better. He or she wants to win; yet often ends up producing an equally hard response that exhausts
    the negotiator and his or her resources and harms the relationship with the other side. Other standard
    negotiating strategies fall between hard and soft, but each involves an attempted trade-off between getting
    what you want and getting along with people.

    There is a third way to negotiate, a way neither hard nor soft, but rather both hard and soft. The
    method of principled negotiation developed at the Harvard Negotiation Project is to decide issues on
    their merits rather than through a haggling process focused on what each side says it will and won’t do. It
    suggests that you look for mutual gains whenever possible, and that where your interests conflict, you
    should insist that the result be based on some fair standards independent of the will of either side. The
    method of principled negotiation is hard on the merits, soft on the people. It employs no tricks and no
    posturing. Principled negotiation shows you how to obtain what you are entitled to and still be decent. It
    enables you to be fair while protecting you against those who would take advantage of your fairness.

    This book is about the method of principled negotiation. The first chapter describes problems that
    arise in using the standard strategies of positional bargaining. The next four chapters lay out the four
    principles of the method. The last three chapters answer the questions most commonly asked about the
    method: What if the other side is more powerful? What if they will not play along? And what if they use
    dirty tricks?

    Principled negotiation can be used by diplomats in arms control talks, investment bankers negotiating
    corporate acquisitions, and by couples in deciding everything from where to go for vacation to how to
    divide their property if they get divorced. It is even a staple of hostage negotiators seeking the release of
    kidnap victims. Anyone can use this method.

    Every negotiation is different, but the basic elements do not change. Principled negotiation can be used
    whether there is one issue or several; two parties or many; whether there is a prescribed ritual, as in
    collective bargaining, or an impromptu free-for-all, as in talking with hijackers. The method applies
    whether the other side is more experienced or less, a hard bargainer or a friendly one. Principled
    negotiation is an all-purpose strategy. Unlike almost all other strategies, if the other side learns this one, it
    does not become more difficult to use; it becomes easier. If they read this book, all the better.


    1. Don’t Bargain Over Positions

    1 Don’t Bargain Over Positions

    Whether a negotiation concerns a contract, a family quarrel, or a peace settlement among nations,
    people routinely engage in positional bargaining. Each side takes a position, argues for it, and makes
    concessions to reach a compromise. The classic example of this negotiating minuet is the haggling that
    takes place between a customer and the proprietor of a secondhand store:

    Customer Shopkeeper

    How much do you want for this brass dish? That is a beautiful antique, isn’t it? I guess I could let it go for $75.

    Oh come on, it’s dented. I’ll give you $15. Really! I might consider a serious offer, but $15 certainly isn’t serious.

    Well. I could go to $20, but I would never pay anything like $75.
    Quote me a realistic price. You drive a hard bargain, young lady. $60 cash, right now.

    $25. It cost me a great deal more than that. Make me a serious offer.

    $37.50. That’s the highest I will go. Have you noticed the engraving on that dish? Next year pieces like that will be
    worth twice what you pay today.

    And so it goes, on and on. Perhaps they will reach agreement; perhaps not.
    Any method of negotiation may be fairly judged by three criteria: It should produce a wise agreement

    if agreement is possible. It should be efficient. And it should improve or at least not damage the
    relationship between the parties. (A wise agreement can be defined as one that meets the legitimate
    interests of each side to the extent possible, resolves conflicting interests fairly, is durable, and takes
    community interests into account.)

    The most common form of negotiation, illustrated by the above example, depends upon successively
    taking—and then giving up—a sequence of positions.

    Taking positions, as the customer and storekeeper do, serves some useful purposes in a negotiation. It
    tells the other side what you want; it provides an anchor in an uncertain and pressured situation; and it can
    eventually produce the terms of an acceptable agreement. But those purposes can be served in other ways.
    And positional bargaining fails to meet the basic criteria of producing a wise agreement, efficiently and

    Arguing over positions produces unwise outcomes
    When negotiators bargain over positions, they tend to lock themselves into those positions. The more you
    clarify your position and defend it against attack, the more committed you become to it. The more you try
    to convince the other side of the impossibility of changing your opening position, the more difficult it
    becomes to do so. Your ego becomes identified with your position. You now have a new interest in

    “saving face”—in reconciling future action with past positions—making it less and less likely that any
    agreement will wisely reconcile the parties’ original interests.

    The danger that positional bargaining will impede a negotiation was well illustrated in 1961 by the
    breakdown of the talks under President John F. Kennedy for a comprehensive ban on nuclear testing,
    which, if enacted, might have headed off much of the superpower arms race that ensued over the next three
    decades. A critical question arose: How many on-site inspections per year should the Soviet Union and
    the United States be permitted to make within the other’s territory to investigate suspicious seismic
    events? The Soviet Union finally agreed to three inspections. The United States insisted on no less than
    ten. And there the talks broke down—over positions—despite the fact that no one understood whether an
    “inspection” would involve one person looking around for one day, or a hundred people prying
    indiscriminately for a month. The parties had made little attempt to design an inspection procedure that
    would reconcile the United States’s interest in verification with the desire of both countries for minimal

    Focusing on positions nearly led to unnecessary bloodshed in a dispute between farmers and the
    national oil company in Iraq after the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime. Displaced farmers in the south
    of Iraq had banded together, leased arable land from the government, and used their last savings and
    borrowings to plant crops. Unfortunately, only a few months later the farmers received a letter calling for
    them to vacate the land immediately in accord with the fine print of their lease, because oil had been
    discovered under it. The oil company said, “Get off our land.” The farmers replied, “It’s our land, and
    we’re not leaving.” The oil company threatened to call the police. The farmers said, “There are more of
    us,” so the national oil company threatened to bring in the army. “We have guns too; we aren’t leaving,”
    came the reply. “We have nothing left to lose.”

    As troops gathered, bloodshed was averted only by the last-minute intervention of an official fresh
    from a training program in alternatives to positional bargaining. “How long will it be before you expect to
    produce oil on this land?” he asked the national oil company. “Probably three years,” they replied. “What
    do you plan to do on the land over the next few months?” “Mapping; a little seismic surveying of the
    underground layers.” Then he asked the farmers, “What’s the problem with leaving now, as they’ve
    asked?” “The harvest is in six weeks. It represents everything we own.”

    Shortly thereafter an agreement was reached: The farmers could harvest their crops. They would not
    impede the oil company’s preparatory activities. Indeed, the oil company hoped soon to hire many of the
    farmers as laborers for its construction activities. And it did not object if they continued to plant crops in
    between oil derricks.

    As illustrated in these examples, the more attention that is paid to positions, the less attention is
    devoted to meeting the underlying concerns of the parties. Agreement becomes less likely. Any agreement
    reached may reflect a mechanical splitting of the difference between final positions rather than a solution
    carefully crafted to meet the legitimate interests of the parties. The result is frequently an agreement less
    satisfactory to each side than it could have been, or no agreement at all, when a good agreement was

    Arguing over positions is inefficient
    The standard method of negotiation may produce either agreement, as with the price of a brass dish, or
    breakdown, as with the number of on-site inspections. In either event, the process takes a lot of time.

    Bargaining over positions creates incentives that stall settlement. In positional bargaining you try to
    improve the chance that any settlement reached is favorable to you by starting with an extreme position,

    by stubbornly holding to it, by deceiving the other party as to your true views, and by making small
    concessions only as necessary to keep the negotiation going. The same is true for the other side. Each of
    those factors tends to interfere with reaching a settlement promptly. The more extreme the opening
    positions and the smaller the concessions, the more time and effort it will take to discover whether or not
    agreement is possible.

    The standard minuet also requires a large number of individual decisions as each negotiator decides
    what to offer, what to reject, and how much of a concession to make. Decision-making is difficult and
    time-consuming at best. Where each decision not only involves yielding to the other side but will likely
    produce pressure to yield further, a negotiator has little incentive to move quickly. Dragging one’s feet,
    threatening to walk out, stonewalling, and other such tactics become commonplace. They all increase the
    time and costs of reaching agreement as well as the risk that no agreement will be reached at all.

    Arguing over positions endangers an ongoing relationship
    Positional bargaining becomes a contest of will. Each negotiator asserts what he will and won’t do. The
    task of jointly devising an acceptable solution tends to become a battle. Each side tries through sheer
    willpower to force the other to change its position. “I’m not going to give in. If you want to go to the
    movies with me, it’s Avatar or nothing.” Anger and resentment often result as one side sees itself bending
    to the rigid will of the other while its own legitimate concerns go unaddressed. Positional bargaining thus
    strains and sometimes shatters the relationship between the parties. Commercial enterprises that have
    been doing business together for years may part company. Neighbors may stop speaking to each other.
    Bitter feelings generated by one such encounter may last a lifetime.

    When there are many parties, positional bargaining is even worse
    Although it is convenient to discuss negotiation in terms of two persons, you and “the other side,” in fact,
    almost every negotiation involves more than two persons. Several different parties may sit at the table, or
    each side may have constituents, higher-ups, boards of directors, or committees with whom they must
    deal. The more people involved in a negotiation, the more serious the drawbacks to positional bargaining.

    If some 150 countries are negotiating, as in various United Nations conferences, positional bargaining
    is next to impossible. It may take all to say yes, but only one to say no. Reciprocal concessions are
    difficult: to whom do you make a concession? Yet even thousands of bilateral deals would still fall short
    of a multilateral agreement. In such situations, positional bargaining leads to the formation of coalitions
    among parties whose shared interests are often more symbolic than substantive. At the United Nations,
    such coalitions often produce negotiations between “the” North and “the” South, or between “the” East
    and “the” West. Because there are many members in a group, it becomes more difficult to develop a
    common position. What is worse, once they have painfully developed and agreed upon a position, it
    becomes much harder to change it. Altering a position proves equally difficult when additional
    participants are higher authorities who, while absent from the table, must nevertheless give their

    Being nice is no answer
    Many people recognize the high costs of hard positional bargaining, particularly on the parties and their
    relationship. They hope to avoid them by following a more gentle style of negotiation. Instead of seeing

    the other side as adversaries, they prefer to see them as friends. Rather than emphasizing a goal of victory,
    they emphasize the necessity of reaching agreement. In a soft negotiating game the standard moves are to
    make offers and concessions, to trust the other side, to be friendly, and to yield as necessary to avoid

    The following table illustrates two styles of positional bargaining, soft and hard. Most people see
    their choice of negotiating strategies as between these two styles. Looking at the table as presenting a
    choice, should you be a soft or a hard positional bargainer? Or should you perhaps follow a strategy
    somewhere in between?

    The soft negotiating game emphasizes the importance of building and maintaining a relationship.
    Within families and among friends much negotiation takes place in this way. The process tends to be
    efficient, at least to the extent of producing results quickly. As each party competes with the other in being
    more generous and more forthcoming, an agreement becomes highly likely. But it may not be a wise one.
    The results may not be as tragic as in the O. Henry story about an impoverished couple in which the
    loving wife sells her hair in order to buy a handsome chain for her husband’s watch, and the unknowing
    husband sells his watch in order to buy beautiful combs for his wife’s hair. However, any negotiation
    primarily concerned with the relationship runs the risk of producing a sloppy agreement.

    Positional Bargaining: Which Game Should You Play?

    Soft Hard

    Participants are friends. Participants are adversaries.

    The goal is agreement. The goal is victory.

    Make concessions to cultivate the relationship. Demand concessions as a condition of the relationship.

    Be soft on the people and the problem. Be hard on the problem and the people.

    Trust others. Distrust others.

    Change your position easily. Dig in to your position.

    Make offers. Make threats.

    Disclose your bottom line. Mislead as to your bottom line.

    Accept one-sided losses to reach agreement. Demand one-sided gains as the price of agreement.

    Search for the single answer: the one they will accept. Search for the single answer: the one you will accept.

    Insist on agreement. Insist on your position.

    Try to avoid a contest of will. Try to win a contest of will.

    Yield to pressure. Apply pressure.

    More seriously, pursuing a soft and friendly form of positional bargaining makes you vulnerable to
    someone who plays a hard game of positional bargaining. In positional bargaining, a hard game dominates
    a soft one. If the hard bargainer insists on concessions and makes threats while the soft bargainer yields in
    order to avoid confrontation and insists on agreement, the negotiating game is biased in favor of the hard
    player. The process will produce an agreement, although it may not be a wise one. It will certainly be
    more favorable to the hard positional bargainer than to the soft one. If your response to sustained, hard
    positional bargaining is soft positional bargaining, you will probably lose your shirt.

    There is an alternative
    If you do not like the choice between hard and soft positional bargaining, you can change the game.

    The game of negotiation takes place at two levels. At one level, negotiation addresses the substance;
    at another, it focuses—usually implicitly—on the procedure for dealing with the substance. The first
    negotiation may concern your salary, the terms of a lease, or a price to be paid. The second negotiation
    concerns how you will negotiate the substantive question: by soft positional bargaining, by hard
    positional bargaining, or by some other method. This second negotiation is a game about a game—a
    “meta-game.” Each move you make within a negotiation is not only a move that deals with rent, salary, or
    other substantive questions; it also helps structure the rules of the game you are playing. Your move may
    serve to keep the negotiations within an ongoing mode, or it may constitute a game-changing move.

    This second negotiation by and large escapes notice because it seems to occur without conscious
    decision. Only when dealing with someone from another country, particularly someone with a markedly
    different cultural background, are you likely to see the necessity of establishing some accepted process
    for the substantive negotiations. But whether consciously or not, you are negotiating procedural rules with
    every move you make, even if those moves appear exclusively concerned with substance.

    The answer to the question of whether to use soft positional bargaining or hard is “neither.” Change
    the game. At the Harvard Negotiation Project we have been developing an alternative to positional
    bargaining: a method of negotiation explicitly designed to produce wise outcomes efficiently and
    amicably. This method, called principled negotiation or negotiation on the merits, can be boiled down
    to four basic points.

    These four points define a straightforward method of negotiation that can be used under almost any
    circumstance. Each point deals with a basic element of negotiation, and suggests what you should do
    about it.


    Separate the people from the problem.

    Interests: Focus on interests, not positions.
    Options: Invent multiple options looking for mutual gains before deciding what to do.
    Criteria: Insist that the result be based on some objective standard.

    The method of principled negotiation is contrasted with hard and soft positional bargaining in the table
    below, which shows the four basic points of the method in boldface type.

    The first point responds to the fact that human beings are not computers. We are creatures of strong
    emotions who often have radically different perceptions and have difficulty communicating clearly.
    Emotions typically become entangled with the objective merits of the problem. Taking positions just
    makes this worse because people’s egos become identified with their positions. Making concessions “for
    the relationship” is equally problematic, because it can actually encourage and reward stubbornness,
    which can lead to resentment that ends up damaging the relationship. Hence, even before working on the
    substantive problem, the “people problem” should be disentangled from it and addressed on its own.
    Figuratively if not literally, the participants should come to see themselves as working side by side,
    attacking the problem, not each other. Hence the first proposition: Separate the people from the problem.

    The second point is designed to overcome the drawback of focusing on people’s stated positions when
    the object of a negotiation is to satisfy their underlying interests. A negotiating position often obscures
    what you really want. Compromising between positions is not likely to produce an agreement that will
    effectively take care of the human needs that led people to adopt those positions. The second basic
    element of the method is: Focus on interests, not positions.

    The third point responds to the difficulty of designing optimal solutions while under pressure. Trying

    to decide in the presence of an adversary narrows your vision. Having a lot at stake inhibits creativity. So
    does searching for the one right solution. You can offset these constraints by setting aside a designated
    time within which to think up a wide range of possible solutions that advance shared interests and
    creatively reconcile differing interests. Hence the third basic point: Before trying to reach agreement,
    invent options for mutual gain.

    Where interests are directly opposed, a negotiator may be able to obtain a favorable result simply by
    being stubborn. That method tends to reward intransigence and produce arbitrary results. However, you
    can counter such a negotiator by insisting that his single say-so is not enough and that the agreement must
    reflect some fair standard independent of the naked will of either side. This does not mean insisting that
    the terms be based on the standard you select, but only that some fair standard such as market value,
    expert opinion, custom, or law determine the outcome. By discussing such criteria rather than what the
    parties are willing or unwilling to do, neither party need give in to the other; both can defer to a fair
    solution. Hence the fourth basic point: Insist on using objective criteria.

    Positional Bargaining: Which Game Should You Play?

    Change the Game—Negotiate on the Merits

    Soft Hard Principled

    Participants are friends. Participants are adversaries. Participants are problem-solvers.

    The goal is agreement. The goal is victory. The goal is a wise outcome reached efficiently and

    Make concessions to cultivate the

    Demand concessions as a condition of the

    Separate the people from the problem.

    Be soft on the people and the problem. Be hard on the problem and the people. Be soft on the people, hard on the problem.

    Trust others. Distrust others. Proceed independent of trust.

    Change your position easily. Dig in to your position. Focus on interests, not positions.

    Make offers. Make threats. Explore interests.

    Disclose your bottom line. Mislead as to your bottom line. Avoid having a bottom line.

    Accept one-sided losses to reach

    Demand one-sided gains as the price of

    Invent options for mutual gain.

    Search for the single answer: the one they
    will accept.

    Search for the single answer: the one you will

    Develop multiple options to choose from; decide

    Insist on agreement. Insist on your position. Insist on using objective criteria.

    Try to avoid a contest of will. Try to win a contest of will. Try to reach a result based on standards
    independent of will.

    Yield to pressure. Apply pressure. Reason and be open to reason; yield to principle,
    not pressure.

    The four propositions of principled negotiation are relevant from the time you begin to think about
    negotiating until the time either an agreement is reached or you decide to break off the effort. That period
    can be divided into three stages: analysis, planning, and discussion.

    During the analysis stage you are simply trying to diagnose the situation—to gather information,
    organize it, and think about it. You will want to consider the people problems of partisan perceptions,
    hostile emotions, and unclear communication, as well as to identify your interests and those of the other
    side. You will want to note options already on the table and identify any criteria already suggested as a
    basis for agreement.

    During the planning stage you deal with the same four elements a second time, both generating ideas

    and deciding what to do. How do you propose to handle the people problems? Of your interests, which
    are most important? And what are some realistic objectives? You will want to generate additional options
    and additional criteria for deciding among them.

    Again during the discussion stage, when the parties communicate back and forth, looking toward
    agreement, the same four elements are the best subjects to discuss. Differences in perception, feelings of
    frustration and anger, and difficulties in communication can be acknowledged and addressed. Each side
    should come to understand the interests of the other. Both can then jointly generate options that are
    mutually advantageous and seek agreement on objective standards for resolving opposed interests.

    To sum up, in contrast to positional bargaining, the principled negotiation method of focusing on basic
    interests, mutually satisfying options, and fair standards typically results in a wise agreement. The method
    permits you to reach a gradual consensus on a joint decision efficiently without all the transactional costs
    of digging in to positions only to have to dig yourself out of them. And separating the people from the
    problem allows you to deal directly and empathetically with the other negotiator as a human being
    regardless of any substantive differences, thus making possible an amicable outcome.

    Each of the next four chapters expands on one of these four basic points. If at any point you become
    skeptical, you may want to skip ahead briefly and browse in chapters six, seven, and eight, which respond
    to questions commonly raised about the method.


    2. Separate the People from the Problem
    3. Focus on Interests, Not Positions
    4. Invent Options for Mutual Gain
    5. Insist on Using Objective Criteria

    2 Separate the People from the Problem

    Everyone knows how hard it is to deal with a problem without people misunderstanding each other,
    getting angry or upset, and taking things personally.

    A union leader says to his crew, “All right, who called the walkout?”
    Jones steps forward. “I did. It was that bum foreman Campbell again. That was the fifth time in two

    weeks he sent me out of our group as a replacement. He’s got it in for me, and I’m tired of it. Why should I
    get all the dirty work?”

    Later the union leader confronts Campbell. “Why do you keep picking on Jones? He says you’ve put
    him on replacement detail five times in two weeks. What’s going on?”

    Campbell replies, “I pick Jones because he’s the best. I know I can trust him to keep things from
    fouling up in a group without its point person. I send him on replacement only when it’s a key person
    missing, otherwise I send Smith or someone else. It’s just that with the flu going around there’ve been a
    lot of point people out. I never knew Jones objected. I thought he liked the responsibility.”

    In another real-life situation, an insurance company lawyer says to the state insurance commissioner:
    “I appreciate your time, Commissioner Thompson. What I’d like to talk to you about is some of the

    problems we’ve been having with the presumption clause of the strict-liability regulations. Basically, we
    think the way the clause was written causes it to have an unfair impact on those insurers whose existing
    policies contain rate adjustment limitations, and we would like to consider ways it might be revised—”

    The Commissioner, interrupting: “Ms. Monteiro, your company had ample opportunity to voice any
    objection it had during the hearings my department held on those regulations before they were issued. I
    ran those hearings, Ms. Monteiro. I listened to every word of testimony, and I wrote the final version of
    the strict-liability provisions personally. Are you saying I made a mistake?”

    “No, but—”
    “Are you saying I’m unfair?”
    “Certainly not, sir, but I think this provision has had consequences none of us foresaw, and—”
    “Listen, Monteiro, I promised the public when I campaigned for this position that I would put an end

    to killer hair dryers and $10,000 bombs disguised as cars. And these regulations have done that.
    “Your company made a $50 million profit on its strict-liability policies last year. What kind of fool do

    you think you can play me for, coming in here talking about ‘unfair’ regulations and ‘unforeseen
    consequences’? I don’t want to hear another word of that. Good day, Ms. Monteiro.”

    Now what? Does the insurance company lawyer press the Commissioner on this point, making him
    angry and probably not getting anywhere? Her company does a lot of business in this state. A good
    relationship with the Commissioner is important. Should she let the matter rest, then, even though she is
    convinced that this regulation really is unfair, that its long-term effects are likely to be against the public
    interest, and that not even the experts foresaw this problem at the time of the original hearings?

    What is going on in these cases?

    Negotiators are people first
    A basic fact about negotiation, easy to forget in corporate and international transactions, is that you are
    dealing not with abstract representatives of the “other side,” but with human beings. They have emotions,
    deeply held values, and different backgrounds and viewpoints; and they are unpredictable. They are prone
    to cognitive biases, partisan perceptions, blind spots, and leaps of illogic. So are we.

    This human aspect of negotiation can be either helpful or disastrous. The process of working out an
    agreement may produce a psychological commitment to a mutually satisfactory outcome. A working
    relationship where trust, understanding, respect, and friendship are built up over time can make each new
    negotiation smoother and more efficient. And people’s desire to feel good about themselves, and their
    concern for what others will think of them, can often make them more sensitive to another negotiator’s

    On the other hand, people get angry, depressed, fearful, hostile, frustrated, and offended. They have
    egos that are easily threatened. They see the world from their own personal vantage point, and they
    frequently confuse their perceptions with reality. Routinely, they fail to interpret what you say in the way
    you intend and do not mean what you understand them to say. Misunderstanding can reinforce prejudice
    and lead to reactions that produce counterreactions in a vicious circle; rational exploration of possible
    solutions becomes impossible and a negotiation fails. The purpose of the game becomes scoring points,
    confirming negative impressions, and apportioning blame at the expense of the substantive interests of
    both parties.

    Failing to deal with others sensitively as human beings prone to human reactions can be disastrous for
    a negotiation. Whatever else you are doing at any point during a negotiation, from preparation to follow-
    up, it is worth asking yourself, “Am I paying enough attention to the people problem?”

    Every negotiator has two kinds of interests: in the substance and in the relationship
    Every negotiator wants to reach an agreement that satisfies his substantive interests. That is why one
    negotiates. Beyond that, a negotiator also has an interest in his relationship with the other side. An
    antiques dealer wants both to make a profit on the sale and to turn the customer into a regular one. At a
    minimum, a negotiator wants to maintain a working relationship good enough to produce an acceptable
    agreement (and effective implementation) if one is possible given each side’s interests. Usually, more is
    at stake. Most negotiations take place in the context of an ongoing relationship where it is important to
    carry on each negotiation in a way that will help rather than hinder future relations and future negotiations.
    In fact, with many long-term clients, business partners, family members, fellow professionals, government
    officials, or foreign nations, the ongoing relationship is far more important than the outcome of any
    particular negotiation.

    The relationship tends to become entangled with the problem. A major consequence of the “people
    problem” in negotiation is that the parties’ relationship tends to become entangled with their discussions
    of substance. On both the giving and receiving end, we are likely to treat people and problem as one.
    Within the family, a statement such as “The kitchen is a mess” or “Our bank account is low” may be
    intended simply to identify a problem, but it is likely to be heard as a personal attack. Anger over a
    situation may lead you to express anger toward some human being associated with it in your mind. Egos
    tend to become involved in substantive positions.

    Another reason that substantive issues become entangled with psychological ones is that people draw
    from comments on substance unfounded inferences, which they then treat as facts about that person’s
    intentions and attitudes toward them. Unless we are careful, this process is almost automatic; we are
    seldom aware that other explanations may be equally valid. Thus in the union example, Jones was sure
    that Campbell, the foreman, had it in for him, while Campbell thought it obvious that he was
    complimenting Jones and doing him a favor by giving him responsible assignments.

    Positional bargaining puts relationship and substance in conflict. Framing a negotiation as a contest
    of will over positions aggravates the entangling process. I see your position as a statement of how you
    would like the negotiation to end; from my point of view it demonstrates how little you care about our
    relationship. If I take a firm position that you consider unreasonable, you assume that I also think of it as
    an extreme position; it is easy to conclude that I do not value our relationship—or you—very highly.

    Positional bargaining deals with a negotiator’s interests both in substance and in a good relationship
    by trading one off against the other. If what counts in the long run for your company is its relationship with
    the insurance commissioner, then you will probably let this matter drop. Yet giving in on a substantive
    point may buy no friendship; it may do nothing more than convince the other side that you can be taken for
    a ride. Or, if you care more about a favorable solution than being respected or liked by the other side, you
    can try to extract concessions by holding the relationship hostage. “If you won’t go along with me on this
    point, then so much for you. This will be the last time we meet.” While you may extract a concession this
    way, this strategy often results in lousy substance and a damaged relationship.

    Disentangle the relationship from the substance; deal directly with the people problem
    Dealing with a substantive problem and maintaining a good working relationship need not be conflicting
    goals if the parties are committed and psychologically prepared to treat each separately on its own
    legitimate merits. Base the relationship on mutually understood perceptions, clear two-way
    communication, expressing emotions without blame, and a forward-looking, purposive outlook. Deal with
    people problems by changing how you treat people; don’t try to solve them with substantive concessions.

    To deal with psychological problems, use psychological techniques. Where perceptions differ, look
    for ways to test assumptions and to educate. If emotions run high, you can find ways for each person
    involved to let off steam and feel heard. Where misunderstanding exists, you can work to improve

    To find your way through the jungle of people problems, it is useful to think in terms of three basic
    categories: perception, emotion, and communication. The various people problems all fall into one of
    these three baskets.

    In negotiating it is easy to forget that you must deal not only with their people problems, but also with
    your own. Your anger and frustration may obstruct an agreement beneficial to you. Your perceptions are
    likely to be one-sided, and you may not be listening or communicating adequately. The techniques that
    follow apply equally well to your people problems as to those of the other side.

    Understanding the other side’s thinking is not simply a useful activity that will help you solve your
    problem. Their thinking is the problem. Whether you are making a deal or settling a dispute, differences
    are defined by the difference between your thinking and theirs. When two people quarrel, they usually
    quarrel over an object—both may claim a watch—or over an event—each may contend that the other was

    at fault in causing an automobile accident. The same goes for nations. Morocco and Algeria quarrel over
    a section of the Western Sahara; India and Pakistan quarrel over each other’s development of nuclear
    bombs. In such circumstances people tend to assume that what they need to know more about is the object
    or the event. They study the watch or they measure the skid marks at the scene of the accident. They study
    the Western Sahara or the detailed history of nuclear weapons development in India and Pakistan.

    Ultimately, however, conflict lies not in objective reality, but in people’s heads. Truth is simply one
    more argument—perhaps a good one, perhaps not—for dealing with the difference. The difference itself
    exists because it exists in their thinking. Fears, even if ill-founded, are real fears and need to be dealt
    with. Hopes, even if unrealistic, may cause a war. Facts, even if established, may do nothing to solve the
    problem. Both parties may agree that one lost the watch and the other found it, but still disagree over who
    should get it. It may finally be established that the auto accident was caused by the blowout of a tire that
    had been driven 31,402 miles, but the parties may dispute who should pay for the damage. The detailed
    history and geography of the Western Sahara, no matter how carefully studied and documented, is not the
    stuff with which one puts to rest that kind of territorial dispute. No study of who developed what nuclear
    devices when will put to rest the conflict between India and Pakistan.

    As useful as looking for objective reality can be, it is ultimately the reality as each side sees it that
    constitutes the problem in a negotiation and opens the way to a solution.

    Put yourself in their shoes. How you see the world depends on where you sit. People tend to see
    what they want to see. Out of a mass of detailed information, they tend to pick out and focus on those facts
    that confirm their prior perceptions and to disregard or misinterpret those that call their perceptions into
    question. Each side in a negotiation may see only the merits of its case, and only the faults of the other

    The ability to see the situation as the other side sees it, as difficult as it may be, is one of the most
    important skills a negotiator can possess. It is not enough to know that they see things differently. If you
    want to influence them, you also need to understand empathetically the power of their point of view and to
    feel the emotional force with which they believe in it. It is not enough to study them like beetles under a
    microscope; you need to know what it feels like to be a beetle. To accomplish this task you should be
    prepared to withhold judgment for a while as you “try on” their views. They may well believe that their
    views are “right” as strongly as you believe yours are. You may see on the table a glass half full of cool
    water. Your spouse may see a dirty, half-empty glass about to cause a ring on the mahogany finish.

    Tenant’s perceptions Landlady’s perceptions

    The rent is already too high. The rent has not been increased for a long time.

    With other costs going up, I can’t afford to pay more for housing. With other costs going up, I need more rental income.

    The apartment needs painting. He has given that apartment heavy wear and tear.

    I know people who pay less for a comparable apartment. I know people who pay more for a comparable apartment.

    Young people like me can’t afford to pay high rents. Young people like him tend to make noise and to be hard on an apartment.

    The rent ought to be low because the neighborhood is rundown. We landlords should raise rents to improve the quality of the neighborhood.

    I am a desirable tenant with no dogs or cats. His loud music drives me crazy.

    I always pay the rent whenever she asks for it. He never pays the rent until I ask for it.

    She is cold and distant; she never asks me how things are. I am a considerate person who never intrudes on a tenant’s privacy.

    Consider the contrasting perceptions of a tenant and a landlady negotiating the renewal of a lease:
    Understanding their point of view is not the same as agreeing with it. It is true that a better

    understanding of their thinking may lead you to revise your own views about the merits of a situation. But

    that is not a cost of understanding their point of view, it is a benefit. It allows you to reduce the area of
    conflict, and it also helps you advance your newly enlightened self-interest.

    Don’t deduce their intentions from your fears. People tend to assume that whatever they fear, the
    other side intends to do. Consider this story from the New York Times: “They met in a bar, where he
    offered her a ride home. He took her down unfamiliar streets. He said it was a shortcut. He got her home
    so fast she caught the ten o’clock news.” Why is the ending so surprising? We made an assumption based
    on our fears.

    It is all too easy to fall into the habit of putting the worst interpretation on what the other side says or
    does. A suspicious interpretation often follows naturally from one’s existing perceptions. Moreover, it
    seems the “safe” thing to do, and it shows spectators how bad the other side really is. But the cost of
    interpreting whatever they say or do in its most dismal light is that fresh ideas in the direction of
    agreement are spurned, and subtle changes of position are ignored or rejected.

    Don’t blame them for your problem. It is tempting to hold the other side responsible for your
    problem. “Your company is totally unreliable. Every time you service our rotary generator here at the
    factory, you do a lousy job and it breaks down again.” Blaming is an easy mode to fall into, particularly
    when you feel that the other side is indeed responsible. But even if blaming is justified, it is usually
    counterproductive. Under attack, the other side will become defensive and will resist what you have to
    say. They will cease to listen, or they will strike back with an attack of their own. Assessing blame firmly
    entangles the people with the problem.

    When you talk about the problem, distinguish the symptoms from the person with whom you are
    talking. “Our rotary generator that you service has broken down again. That is three times in the last
    month. The first time it was out of order for an entire week. This factory needs a functioning generator. I
    need your advice on how we can minimize our risk of generator breakdown. Should we change service
    companies, sue the manufacturer, or what?”

    Discuss each other’s perceptions. One way to deal with differing perceptions is to make them
    explicit and discuss them with the other side. As long as you do this in a frank, honest manner without
    either side blaming the other for the problem as each sees it, such a discussion may provide the
    understanding they need to take what you say seriously, and vice versa.

    It is common in a negotiation to treat as “unimportant” those concerns of the other side perceived as
    not standing in the way of an agreement. To the contrary, communicating loudly and convincingly things
    you are willing to say that they would like to hear can be one of the best investments you as a negotiator
    can make.

    Consider the negotiation over the transfer of technology that arose at the multinational Law of the Sea
    Conference. From 1974 to 1981 representatives of some 150 nations gathered in New York and Geneva to
    formulate rules to govern uses of the ocean from fishing rights to mining manganese in the deep seabed. At
    one point, representatives of the developing countries expressed keen interest in an exchange of
    technology; their countries wanted to be able to acquire from the highly industrialized nations advanced
    technical knowledge and equipment for deep-seabed mining.

    The United States and other developed countries saw no difficulty in satisfying that desire—and
    therefore saw the issue of technology transfer as unimportant. In one sense it was unimportant to them, but
    it was a great mistake for them to treat the subject as unimportant. By devoting substantial time to working
    out the practical arrangements for transferring technology, they might have made their offer far more
    credible and far more attractive to the developing countries. By dismissing the issue as a matter of lesser
    importance to be dealt with later, the industrialized states gave up a low-cost opportunity to provide the
    developing countries with an impressive achievement and a real incentive to reach agreement on other

    Look for opportunities to act inconsistently with their perceptions. Perhaps the best way to change

    someone’s perceptions is to send them a message different from what they expect. The visit of Egypt’s
    President Anwar Sadat to Jerusalem in November 1977 provides an outstanding example of such an
    action. At the time, Israelis saw Sadat and Egypt as their enemy, the man and country that had launched a
    surprise attack on them four years before. To alter that perception, to help persuade the Israelis that he too
    desired peace, Sadat flew to the capital of his enemies, a disputed capital that not even the United States,
    Israel’s best friend, had recognized as the capital of Israel. Instead of acting as an enemy, Sadat acted as a
    partner. Without this dramatic move, it is hard to imagine the signing of an Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty in

    Give them a stake in the outcome by making sure they participate in the process. If they are not
    involved in the process, they are unlikely to approve the product. It is that simple. If you go to the state
    insurance commissioner prepared for battle after a long investigation, it is not surprising that he is going
    to feel threatened and resist your conclusions. If you fail to ask an employee whether he wants an
    assignment with responsibility, don’t be surprised to find out that he resents it. If you want the other side
    to accept a disagreeable conclusion, it is crucial that you involve them in the process of reaching that

    This is precisely what people tend not to do. When you have a difficult issue to handle, your instinct is
    to leave the hard part until last. “Let’s be sure we have the whole thing worked out before we approach
    the Commissioner.” The Commissioner, however, is much more likely to agree to a revision of the
    regulations if he feels that he has had a part in drafting it. This way the revision becomes just one more
    small step in the long drafting process that produced his original regulation rather than someone’s attempt
    to butcher his completed product.

    During the nearly fifty-year struggle against apartheid (legalized racial segregation) in South Africa
    that ended only with the multiparty elections of 1994, white moderates at one point were trying to abolish
    the discriminatory pass laws. How? By meeting in an all-white parliamentary committee to discuss
    proposals. Yet however meritorious those proposals might prove, they would be insufficient, not
    necessarily because of their substance, but because they would be the product of a process in which no
    blacks were included. Blacks would hear, “We superior whites are going to figure out how to solve your
    problems.” It would be the “white man’s burden” all over again, which was the problem to start with.

    Even if the terms of an agreement seem favorable, the other side may reject them simply out of a
    suspicion born of their exclusion from the drafting process. Agreement becomes much easier if both
    parties feel ownership of the ideas. The whole process of negotiation becomes stronger as each side puts
    their imprimatur bit by bit on a developing solution. Each criticism of the terms and consequent change,
    each compromise, is a personal mark that the negotiator leaves on a proposal. A proposal evolves that
    bears enough of the suggestions of both sides for each to feel it is theirs.

    To give the other side a feeling of participation, get them involved early. Ask their advice. Giving
    credit generously for ideas wherever possible will give them a personal stake in defending those ideas to
    others. It may be hard to resist the temptation to take credit for yourself, but forbearance pays off
    handsomely. Apart from the substantive merits, the feeling of participation in the process is perhaps the
    single most important factor in determining whether a negotiator accepts a proposal. In a sense, the
    process is the product.

    Face-saving: Make your proposals consistent with their values. In the English language, “face-
    saving” carries a derogatory flavor. People say, “We are doing that just to let them save face,” implying
    that a little pretense has been created to allow someone to go along without feeling badly. The tone

    implies ridicule.
    This is a grave misunderstanding of the role and importance of face-saving. Face-saving reflects

    people’s need to reconcile the stand taken in a negotiation or an agreement with their existing principles
    and with their past words and deeds.

    The judicial process concerns itself with the same subject. When a judge writes an opinion on a court
    ruling, she is saving face, not only for herself and for the judicial system, but for the parties. Instead of
    just telling one party, “You win,” and telling the other, “You lose,” she explains how her decision is
    consistent with principle, law, and precedent. She wants to appear not as arbitrary, but as behaving in a
    proper fashion. A negotiator is no different.

    Often in a negotiation people will continue to hold out not because the proposal on the table is
    inherently unacceptable, but simply because they want to avoid the feeling or the appearance of backing
    down to the other side. If the substance can be phrased or conceptualized differently so that it seems a fair
    outcome, they will then accept it. Terms negotiated between a major city and its Hispanic community on
    access to municipal jobs were unacceptable to the mayor—until the agreement was withdrawn and the
    mayor was allowed to announce the same terms as his own decision, carrying out a campaign promise.

    Face-saving involves reconciling an agreement with principle and with the self-image of the
    negotiators. Its importance should not be underestimated.

    In a negotiation, particularly in a bitter dispute, feelings may be more important than talk. The parties may
    be more ready for battle than for cooperatively working out a solution to a common problem. People often
    come to a negotiation realizing that the stakes are high and feeling threatened. Emotions on one side will
    generate emotions on the other. Fear may breed anger, and anger, fear. Emotions may quickly bring a
    negotiation to an impasse or an end.

    First recognize and understand emotions, theirs and yours. Look at yourself during the negotiation.
    Are you feeling nervous? Is your stomach upset? Are you angry at the other side? Listen to them and get a
    sense of what their emotions are. You may find it useful to write down what you feel—perhaps fearful,
    worried, angry—and then how you might like to feel—confident, relaxed. Do the same for them.

    In dealing with negotiators who represent their organizations, it is easy to treat them as mere
    mouthpieces without emotions. It is important to remember that they too, like you, have personal feelings,
    fears, hopes, and dreams. Their careers may be at stake. There may be issues on which they are
    particularly sensitive and others on which they are particularly proud. Nor are the problems of emotion
    limited to the negotiators. Constituents have emotions too. A constituent may have an even more simplistic
    and adversarial view of the situation.

    Ask yourself what is producing the emotions. Why are you angry? Why are they angry? Are they
    responding to past grievances and looking for revenge? Are emotions spilling over from one issue to
    another? Are personal problems at home interfering with business? In the Middle East negotiation,
    Israelis and Palestinians alike feel a threat to their existence as peoples and have developed powerful
    emotions that now permeate even the most concrete practical issue, like distribution of water in the West
    Bank, so that it becomes almost impossible to discuss and resolve. Because in the larger picture both
    peoples feel that their own survival is at stake, they see every other issue in terms of survival.

    Pay attention to “core concerns.” Many emotions in negotiation are driven by a core set of five
    interests: autonomy, the desire to make your own choices and control your own fate; appreciation, the
    desire to be recognized and valued; affiliation, the desire to belong as an accepted member of some peer

    group; role, the desire to have a meaningful purpose; and status, the desire to feel fairly seen and
    acknowledged. Trampling on these interests tends to generate strong negative emotions. Attending to them
    can build rapport and a positive climate for problem-solving negotiation.[1]

    Consider the role of identity. Another surefire driver of strong negative emotion is a perceived threat
    to identity—one’s self-image or self-respect. As human beings, we apply our general tendency toward
    either-or thinking to our self-perception: “I am a kind person.” “I’m a good manager.” This sets us up to
    feel threatened by people pointing out our inevitable failings and inconsistencies. No one is perfect or
    entirely consistent about anything, but unconsciously that can be painful and uncomfortable to accept. As a
    result, when confronted, we may get scared or angry as an internal debate rages about whether we “are”
    or “aren’t” competent, lovable, fair, or whatever matters to us.

    If you find a counterpart’s behavior oddly out of character or feel as if you have unexpectedly stepped
    on a land mine in your conversation, think about whether they might be experiencing a threat to their
    identity from something you have said or might say. Similarly, if you find yourself feeling off-balance and
    emotional, ask yourself if your sense of identity feels threatened.[*]

    Make emotions explicit and acknowledge them as legitimate. Talk with the people on the other
    side about their emotions. Talk about your own. It does not hurt to say, “You know, the people on our side
    feel we have been mistreated and are very upset. We’re afraid an agreement will not be kept even if one
    is reached. Rational or not, that is our concern. Personally, I think we may be wrong in fearing this, but
    that’s a feeling others have. Do the people on your side feel the same way?” Making your feelings or
    theirs an explicit focus of discussion will not only underscore the seriousness of the problem, it will also
    make the negotiations less reactive and more “pro-active.” Freed from the burden of unexpressed
    emotions, people will become more likely to work on the problem.

    Allow the other side to let off steam. Often, one effective way to deal with people’s anger,
    frustration, and other negative emotions is to help them release those feelings. People obtain
    psychological release through the simple process of recounting their grievances to an attentive audience.
    If you come home wanting to tell your husband about everything that went wrong at the office, you will
    become even more frustrated if he says, “Don’t bother telling me; I’m sure you had a hard day. Let’s skip
    it.” The same is true for negotiators. Letting off steam may make it easier to talk rationally later.
    Moreover, if a negotiator makes an angry speech and thereby shows his constituency that he is not being
    “soft,” they may give him a freer hand in the negotiation. He can then rely on a reputation for toughness to
    protect him from criticism later if he eventually enters into an agreement.

    Hence, instead of interrupting polemical speeches or walking out on the other party, you may decide to
    control yourself, sit there, and allow them to pour out their grievances at you. When constituents are
    listening, such occasions may release their frustration as well as the negotiator’s. Perhaps the best
    strategy to adopt while the other side lets off steam is to listen quietly without responding to their attacks,
    and occasionally to ask the speaker to continue until he has spoken his last word. In this way, you offer
    little support to the inflammatory substance, give the speaker every encouragement to speak himself out,
    and leave little or no residue to fester.

    Don’t react to emotional outbursts. Releasing emotions can prove risky if it leads to an emotional
    reaction. If not controlled, it can result in a violent quarrel. One unusual and effective technique to contain
    the impact of emotions was used in the 1950s by the Human Relations Committee, a labor-management
    group set up in the steel industry to handle emerging conflicts before they became serious problems. The
    members of the committee adopted the rule that only one person could get angry at a time. This made it
    legitimate for others not to respond stormily to an angry outburst. It also made letting off emotional steam
    easier by making an outburst itself more legitimate: “That’s OK. It’s his turn.” The rule has the further

    advantage of helping people control their emotions. Breaking the rule implies that you have lost self-
    control, so you lose some face.

    Use symbolic gestures. Any lover knows that to end a quarrel the simple gesture of bringing a red
    rose goes a long way. Acts that would produce a constructive emotional impact on one side often involve
    little or no cost to the other. A note of sympathy, a statement of regret, a visit to a cemetery, delivering a
    small present for a grandchild, shaking hands or embracing, eating together—all may be priceless
    opportunities to improve a hostile emotional situation at small cost. On many occasions an apology can
    defuse emotions effectively, even when you do not acknowledge personal responsibility for the action or
    admit an intention to harm. An apology may be one of the least costly and most rewarding investments you
    can make.

    Without communication there is no negotiation. Negotiation is a process of communicating back and forth
    for the purpose of reaching a joint decision. Communication is never an easy thing, even between people
    who have an enormous background of shared values and experience. Couples who have lived with each
    other for thirty years still have misunderstandings every day. It is not surprising, then, to find poor
    communication between people who do not know each other well and who may feel hostile and
    suspicious of one another. Whatever you say, you should expect that the other side will almost always
    hear something different.

    There are three big problems in communication. First, negotiators may not be talking to each other, or
    at least not in such a way as to be understood. Frequently each side has given up on the other and is no
    longer attempting any serious communication with it. Instead they talk merely to impress third parties or
    their own constituency. Rather than trying to dance with their negotiating partner toward a mutually
    agreeable outcome, they try to trip him up. Rather than trying to talk their partner into a more constructive
    step, they try to talk the spectators into taking sides. Effective communication between the parties is all
    but impossible if each plays to the gallery.

    Even if you are talking directly and clearly to them, they may not be hearing you. This constitutes the
    second problem in communication. Note how often people don’t seem to pay enough attention to what you
    say. Probably equally often, you would be unable to repeat what they had said. In a negotiation, you may
    be so busy thinking about what you are going to say next, how you are going to respond to that last point or
    how you are going to frame your next argument, that you forget to listen to what the other side is saying
    now. Or you may be listening more attentively to your constituency than to the other side. Your
    constituents, after all, are the ones to whom you will have to account for the results of the negotiation.
    They are the ones you are trying to satisfy. It is not surprising that you should want to pay close attention
    to them. But if you are not hearing what the other side is saying, there is no communication.

    The third communication problem is misunderstanding. What one says, the other may misinterpret.
    Even when negotiators are in the same room, communication from one to the other can seem like sending
    smoke signals in a high wind. Where the parties speak different languages the chance for misinterpretation
    is compounded. For example, in Persian, the word “compromise” apparently lacks the positive meaning it
    has in English of “a midway solution both sides can live with,” but has only a negative meaning as in “our
    integrity was compromised.” Similarly, the word “mediator” in Persian suggests “meddler,” someone
    who is barging in uninvited. In early 1980 U.N. Secretary General Kurt Waldheim flew to Iran to seek the
    release of American diplomats being held hostage by Iranian students soon after the Islamic revolution.
    His efforts were seriously set back when Iranian national radio and television broadcast in Persian a

    remark he reportedly made on his arrival in Tehran: “I have come as a mediator to work out a
    compromise.” Within an hour of the broadcast, his car was being stoned by angry Iranians.

    What can be done about these three problems of communication?
    Listen actively and acknowledge what is being said. The need for listening is obvious, yet it is

    difficult to listen well, especially under the stress of an ongoing negotiation. Listening enables you to
    understand their perceptions, feel their emotions, and hear what they are trying to say. Active listening
    improves not only what you hear but also what they say. If you pay attention and interrupt occasionally to
    say, “Did I understand correctly that you are saying that . . . ?” the other side will realize that they are not
    just killing time, not just going through a routine. They will also feel the satisfaction of being heard and
    understood. It has been said that the cheapest concession you can make to the other side is to let them
    know they have been heard.

    Standard techniques of good listening are to pay close attention to what is said, to ask the other party
    to spell out carefully and clearly exactly what they mean, and to request that ideas be repeated if there is
    any ambiguity or uncertainty. Make it your task while listening not to phrase a response, but to understand
    them as they see themselves. Take in their perceptions, their needs, and their constraints.

    Many consider it a good tactic not to give the other side’s case too much attention, and not to admit any
    legitimacy in their point of view. A good negotiator does just the reverse. Unless you acknowledge what
    they are saying and demonstrate that you understand them, they may believe you have not heard them.
    When you then try to explain a different point of view, they will suppose that you still have not grasped
    what they mean. They will say to themselves, “I told him my view, but now he’s saying something
    different, so he must not have understood it.” Then instead of listening to your point, they will be
    considering how to make their argument in a new way so that this time maybe you will fathom it. So show
    that you understand them. “Let me see whether I follow what you are telling me. From your point of view,
    the situation looks like this. . . .”

    As you repeat what you understood them to have said, phrase it positively from their point of view,
    making the strength of their case clear. You might say, “You have a strong case. Let me see if I can explain
    it. Here’s the way it strikes me. . . .” Understanding is not agreeing. One can at the same time understand
    perfectly and disagree completely with what the other side is saying. But unless you can convince them
    that you do grasp how they see it, you may be unable to get them to hear when you explain your viewpoint
    to them. Once you have made their case for them, then come back with the problems you find in their
    proposal. If you can put their case better than they can, and then refute it, you maximize the chance of
    initiating a constructive dialogue on the merits and minimize the chance of their believing you have
    misunderstood them.

    Speak to be understood. Talk to the other side. It is easy to forget sometimes that a negotiation is not
    a debate. Nor is it a trial. You are not trying to persuade some third party. The person you are trying to
    persuade is seated at the table with you. If a negotiation is to be compared with a legal proceeding, the
    situation resembles that of two judges trying to reach agreement on how to decide a case. Try putting
    yourself in that role, treating your opposite number as a fellow judge with whom are you attempting to
    work out a joint opinion. In this context it is clearly unpersuasive to blame the other party for the problem,
    to engage in name-calling, or to raise your voice. On the contrary, it will help to recognize explicitly that
    they see the situation differently and to try to go forward as people with a joint problem.

    To reduce the dominating and distracting effect that the press, home audiences, and third parties may
    have, it is useful to establish private and confidential means of communicating with the other side. You
    can also improve communication by limiting the size of the group meeting. In the negotiations over the city
    of Trieste in 1954, for example, little progress was made in the talks among Yugoslavia, Britain, and the

    United States until the three principal negotiators abandoned their large delegations and started meeting
    alone and informally in a private house. A good case can be made for changing President Woodrow
    Wilson’s appealing slogan “Open covenants openly arrived at” to “Open covenants privately arrived at.”
    No matter how many people are involved in a negotiation, important decisions are typically made when
    no more than two people are in the room.

    Speak about yourself, not about them. In many negotiations, each side explains and condemns at
    great length the motivations and intentions of the other side. It is more persuasive, however, to describe a
    problem in terms of its impact on you than in terms of what they did or why: “I feel let down” instead of
    “You broke your word.” “We feel discriminated against” rather than “You’re a racist.” If you make a
    statement about them that they believe is untrue, they will ignore you or get angry; they will not focus on
    your concern. But a statement about how you feel is difficult to challenge. You convey the same
    information without provoking a defensive reaction that will prevent them from taking it in.

    Speak for a purpose. Sometimes the problem is not too little communication, but too much. When
    anger and misperception are high, some thoughts are best left unsaid. At other times, full disclosure of
    how flexible you are may make it harder to reach agreement rather than easier. If you let me know that you
    would be willing to sell your car for $15,000, after I have said that I would be willing to pay as much as
    $20,000, we may have more trouble striking a deal than if you had just kept quiet. The moral is: Before
    making a significant statement, know what you want to communicate or find out, and know what purpose
    this information will serve.

    Prevention works best
    The techniques just described for dealing with problems of perception, emotion, and communication
    usually work well. However, the best time for handling people problems is before they become people
    problems. This means building a personal and organizational relationship with the other side that can
    cushion the people on each side against the knocks of negotiation. It also means structuring the negotiating
    game in ways that disentangle the substantive problem from the relationship and protect people’s egos
    from getting involved in substantive discussions.

    Build a working relationship. Knowing the other side personally really does help. It is much easier to
    attribute diabolical intentions to an unknown abstraction called the “other side” than to someone you
    know personally. Dealing with a classmate, a colleague, a friend, or even a friend of a friend is quite
    different from dealing with a stranger. The more quickly you can turn a stranger into someone you know,
    the easier a negotiation is likely to become. You have less difficulty understanding where they are coming
    from. You have a foundation of trust to build upon in a difficult negotiation. You have smooth, familiar
    communication routines. It is easier to defuse tension with a joke or an informal aside.

    The time to develop such a relationship is before the negotiation begins. Get to know them and find out
    about their likes and dislikes. Find ways to meet them informally. Try arriving early to chat before the
    negotiation is scheduled to start, and linger after it ends. Benjamin Franklin’s favorite technique was to
    ask an adversary if he could borrow a certain book. This would flatter the person and give him the
    comfortable feeling of knowing that Franklin owed him a favor.

    Face the problem, not the people. If negotiators view themselves as adversaries in a personal face-
    to-face confrontation, it is difficult to disentangle their relationship from the substantive problem. In that
    context, anything one negotiator says about the problem seems to be directed personally at the other and is
    received that way. Each side tends to become defensive and reactive and to ignore the other side’s
    legitimate interests altogether.

    A more effective way for the parties to think of themselves is as partners in a hardheaded, side-by-
    side search for a fair agreement advantageous to each.

    Like two shipwrecked sailors in a lifeboat at sea quarreling over limited rations and supplies,
    negotiators may begin by seeing each other as adversaries. Each may view the other as a hindrance. To
    survive, however, those two sailors will want to disentangle the objective problems from the people.
    They will want to identify the needs of each, whether for shade, medicine, water, or food. They will want
    to go further and treat the meeting of those needs as a shared problem, along with other shared problems
    like keeping watch, catching rainwater, and getting the lifeboat to shore. Seeing themselves as engaged in
    side-by-side efforts to solve a mutual problem, the sailors will become better able to reconcile their
    conflicting interests as well as to advance their shared interests. Similarly with two negotiators. However
    difficult personal relations may be between us, you and I become better able to reach an amicable
    reconciliation of our various interests when we accept that task as a shared problem and face it jointly.

    To help the other side change from a face-to-face orientation to side-by-side, you might raise the issue
    with them explicitly. “Look, we’re both lawyers [diplomats, businessmen, family, etc.]. Unless we try to
    satisfy your interests, we are hardly likely to reach an agreement that satisfies mine, and vice versa. Let’s
    look together at the problem of how to satisfy our collective interests.” Alternatively, you could start
    treating the negotiation as a side-by-side process and by your actions make it desirable for them to join in.

    lt helps to sit literally on the same side of a table and to have in front of you the contract, the map, the
    blank pad of paper, or whatever else depicts the problem. If you have established a basis for mutual trust,
    so much the better. But however precarious your relationship may be, try to structure the negotiation as a
    side-by-side activity in which the two of you—with your different interests and perceptions, and your
    emotional involvement—jointly face a common task.

    Separating the people from the problem is not something you can do once and forget about; you have to
    keep working at it. The basic approach is to deal with the people as human beings and with the problem
    on its merits. How to do the latter is the subject of the next three chapters.

    3 Focus on Interests, Not Positions

    Consider Mary Parker Follett’s story of two men quarreling in a library. One wants the window open
    and the other wants it closed. They bicker back and forth about how much to leave it open: a crack,
    halfway, three-quarters of the way. No solution satisfies them both.

    Enter the librarian. She asks one why he wants the window open: “To get some fresh air.” She asks the
    other why he wants it closed: “To avoid the draft.” After thinking a minute, she opens wide a window in
    the next room, bringing in fresh air without a draft.

    For a wise solution reconcile interests, not positions
    This story is typical of many negotiations. Since the parties’ problem appears to be a conflict of positions,
    and since their goal is to agree on a position, they naturally tend to think and talk about positions—and in
    the process often reach an impasse.

    The librarian could not have invented the solution she did if she had focused only on the two men’s
    stated positions of wanting the window open or closed. Instead she looked to their underlying interests of
    fresh air and no draft. This difference between positions and interests is crucial.

    Interests define the problem. The basic problem in a negotiation lies not in conflicting positions, but
    in the conflict between each side’s needs, desires, concerns, and fears. The parties may say:

    “I am trying to get him to stop that real estate development next door.”
    Or “We disagree. He wants $300,000 for the house. I won’t pay a penny more than $250,000.”
    But on a more basic level the problem is:
    “He needs the cash; I want peace and quiet.”
    Or “He needs at least $300,000 to pay off the mortgage and put 20 percent down on his new house. I

    told my family that I wouldn’t pay more than $250,000 for a house.”
    Such desires and concerns are interests. Interests motivate people; they are the silent movers behind

    the hubbub of positions. Your position is something you have decided upon. Your interests are what
    caused you to so decide.

    The Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty blocked out at the Camp David summit in 1978 demonstrates the
    usefulness of looking behind positions. Israel had occupied the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula since the Six
    Day War of 1967. When Egypt and Israel sat down together in 1978 to negotiate a peace, their positions
    were incompatible. Israel insisted on keeping some of the Sinai. Egypt, on the other hand, insisted that
    every inch of the Sinai be returned to Egyptian sovereignty. Time and again, people drew maps showing
    possible boundary lines that would divide the Sinai between Egypt and Israel. Compromising in this way
    was wholly unacceptable to Egypt. To go back to the situation as it was in 1967 was equally unacceptable
    to Israel.

    Looking to their interests instead of their positions made it possible to develop a solution. Israel’s
    interest lay in security; they did not want Egyptian tanks poised on their border ready to roll across at any
    time. Egypt’s interest lay in sovereignty; the Sinai had been part of Egypt since the time of the Pharaohs.
    After centuries of domination by Greeks, Romans, Turks, French, and British, Egypt had only recently
    regained full sovereignty and was not about to cede territory to another foreign conqueror.

    At Camp David, President Sadat of Egypt and Prime Minister Begin of Israel agreed to a plan that
    would return the Sinai to complete Egyptian sovereignty and, by demilitarizing large areas, would still
    assure Israeli security. The Egyptian flag would fly everywhere, but Egyptian tanks would be nowhere
    near Israel.

    Reconciling interests rather than positions works for two reasons. First, for every interest there
    usually exist several possible positions that could satisfy it. All too often people simply adopt the most
    obvious position, as Israel did, for example, in announcing that they intended to keep part of the Sinai.
    When you do look behind opposed positions for the motivating interests, you can often find an alternative
    position that meets not only your interests but theirs as well. In the Sinai, demilitarization was one such

    Reconciling interests rather than compromising between positions also works because behind
    opposed positions lie many more interests than conflicting ones.

    Behind opposed positions lie shared and compatible interests, as well as conflicting ones. We tend
    to assume that because the other side’s positions are opposed to ours, their interests must also be
    opposed. If we have an interest in defending ourselves, then they must want to attack us. If we have an
    interest in minimizing the rent, then their interest must be to maximize it. In many negotiations, however, a
    close examination of the underlying interests will reveal the existence of many more interests that are
    shared or compatible than ones that are opposed.

    For example, look at the interests a tenant shares with a prospective landlord:

    1. Both want stability. The landlord wants a stable tenant; the tenant wants a permanent address.
    2. Both would like to see the apartment well maintained. The tenant is going to live there; the landlord

    wants to increase the value of the apartment as well as the reputation of the building.
    3. Both are interested in a good relationship with each other. The landlord wants a tenant who pays the

    rent regularly; the tenant wants a responsive landlord who will carry out the necessary repairs.

    They may also have interests that do not conflict but simply differ. For example:

    1. The tenant may not want to deal with fresh paint, to which he is allergic. The landlord will not want
    to pay the costs of repainting all the other apartments.

    2. The landlord would like the security of a down payment of the first month’s rent, and he may want it
    by tomorrow. The tenant, knowing that this is a good apartment, may be indifferent on the question of
    paying tomorrow or later.

    When weighed against these shared and divergent interests, the opposed interests in minimizing the
    rent and maximizing the return seem more manageable. The shared interests will likely result in a long
    lease, an agreement to share the cost of improving the apartment, and efforts by both parties to
    accommodate each other in the interest of a good relationship. The divergent interests may perhaps be
    reconciled by a down payment tomorrow and an agreement by the landlord to paint the apartment
    provided the tenant buys the paint. The precise amount of the rent is all that remains to be settled, and the

    market for rental apartments may define that fairly well.
    Agreement is often made possible precisely because interests differ. You and a shoe-seller may both

    like money and shoes. Relatively, his interest in the fifty dollars exceeds his interest in a pair of shoes.
    For you, the situation is reversed: you like the shoes better than the fifty dollars. Hence the deal. Shared
    interests and differing but complementary interests can both serve as the building blocks for a wise

    How do you identify interests?
    The benefit of looking behind positions for interests is clear. How to go about it is less clear. A position
    is likely to be concrete and explicit; the interests underlying it may well be unexpressed, intangible, and
    perhaps inconsistent. How do you go about understanding the interests involved in a negotiation,
    remembering that figuring out their interests will be at least as important as figuring out yours?

    Ask “Why?” One basic technique is to put yourself in their shoes. Examine each position they take,
    and ask yourself “Why?” Why, for instance, does your landlord prefer to fix the rent—in a five-year lease
    —year by year? The answer you may come up with, to be protected against increasing costs, is probably
    one of his interests. You can also ask the landlord himself why he takes a particular position. If you do,
    make clear that you are asking not for justification of this position, but for an understanding of the needs,
    hopes, fears, or desires that it serves. “What’s your basic concern, Mr. Peters, in wanting the lease to run
    for no more than three years?”

    Ask “Why not?” Think about their choice. One of the most useful ways to uncover interests is first
    to identify the basic decision that those on the other side probably see you asking them for, and then to ask
    yourself why they have not made that decision. What interests of theirs stand in the way? If you are trying
    to change their minds, the starting point is to figure out where their minds are now.

    Consider, for example, the negotiations between the United States and Iran in 1980 (shortly after the
    Islamic Revolution) over the release of the fifty-two U.S. diplomats and embassy personnel taken hostage
    in Tehran by student militants when the deposed Shah of Iran entered the United States for cancer
    treatment. The hostage-taking provoked international outrage, and the United States soon imposed
    sanctions, froze Iranian bank accounts, and allowed private lawsuits to target those assets. Within Iran,
    however, the students were seen as heroes by some and as politically useful by conservatives, who were
    seeking to displace more moderate elected officials.

    While there were a host of serious obstacles to a resolution of this dispute, the problem is illuminated
    simply by looking at the choice of a typical student leader. The demand of the United States was clear:
    “Release the hostages.” During much of 1980 each student leader’s choice must have looked something
    like that illustrated by the balance sheet below.

    AS OF: Spring 1980

    Currently Perceived Choice of: An Iranian student leader
    Question Faced: “Shall I press for immediate release of the American hostages?”

    If I say yes If I say no

    – I sell out the Revolution. + I uphold the Revolution.

    – I will be criticized as pro-American. + I will be praised for defending Islam.

    – The others will probably not agree with me (and I may lose power); if they
    do and we release the hostages, then:

    + We will probably all stick to-gether.

    + We get fantastic TV coverage to tell the world about our

    – Iran looks weak. + Iran looks strong.

    – We back down to the U.S. + We stand up to the U.S.

    – We get nothing (no Shah, no money). + We have a chance of getting something (at least our money

    – We do not know what the U.S. will do. + The hostages provide some protection against U.S. intervention.

    – I may have to go back to class. + I remain an increasingly important political player.

    But: But:

    + There is a chance that economic sanctions might end. – Economic sanctions will no doubt continue.

    + Our relations with other nations, especially in Europe, may improve. – Our relations with other nations, especially in Europe, will suffer.

    – Inflation and economic problems will continue.

    – There is a risk that the U.S. might take military action (but a
    martyr’s death is the most glorious).


    + The U.S. may make further commitments about our money,
    nonintervention, ending sanctions, etc.

    + We can always release the hostages later.

    If a typical student leader’s choice did look even approximately like this, it is understandable why the
    militant students held the hostages so long: As outrageous and illegal as the original seizure was, once the
    hostages had been seized it was not irrational for the students to keep holding them from one day to the
    next, waiting for a more promising time to release them.

    In constructing the other side’s currently perceived choice the first question to ask is “Whose decision
    do I want to affect?” The second question is what decision people on the other side now see you asking
    them to make. If you have no idea what they think they are being called on to do, they may not either. That
    alone may explain why they are not deciding as you would like.

    Now analyze the consequences, as the other side would probably see them, of agreeing or refusing to
    make the decision you are asking for. You may find a checklist of consequences such as the following
    helpful in this task:

    Impact on my interests

    Will I lose or gain political support?
    Will colleagues criticize or praise me?

    Impact on the group’s interests

    What will be the short-term consequences? The long-term consequences?
    What will be the economic [political, legal, psychological, military, etc.] consequences?
    What will be the effect on outside supporters and public opinion?
    Will the precedent be good or bad?
    Will making this decision prevent doing something better?
    Is the action consistent with our principles? Is it “right”?
    Can I do it later if I want?

    In this entire process it would be a mistake to try for great precision. Only rarely will you deal with a
    decision-maker who writes down and weighs the pros and cons. You are trying to understand a very

    human choice, not making a mathematical calculation.
    Realize that each side has multiple interests. In almost every negotiation each side will have many

    interests, not just one. As a tenant negotiating a lease, for example, you may want to obtain a favorable
    rental agreement, to reach it quickly with little effort, and to maintain a good working relationship with
    your landlord. You will have not only a strong interest in affecting any agreement you reach, but also one
    in effecting an agreement. You will be simultaneously pursuing both your independent and your shared

    A common error in diagnosing a negotiating situation is to assume that each person on the other side
    has the same interests. This is almost never the case. In the 1960s during the Vietnam war, President
    Lyndon Johnson was in the habit of lumping together all the different members of the government of North
    Vietnam, the Vietcong resistance in the south, and their various Soviet and Chinese advisers and calling
    them all collectively “he.” “The enemy has to learn that he can’t cross the United States with impunity. He
    is going to have to learn that aggression doesn’t pay.” It will be difficult to influence any such “him” (or
    even “them”) to agree to anything if you fail to appreciate the differing interests of the various people and
    factions involved.

    Thinking of negotiation as a two-person, two-sided affair can be illuminating, but it should not blind
    you to the usual presence of other persons, other sides, and other influences. In one baseball salary
    negotiation the general manager kept insisting that $500,000 was simply too much for a particular player,
    although other teams were paying at least that much to similarly talented players. In fact the manager felt
    his position was unjustifiable, but he had strict instructions from the club’s owners to hold firm without
    explaining why, because they were in financial difficulties that they did not want the public to hear about.

    Whether it is their employer, client, employees, colleagues, family, or spouse, all negotiators have a
    constituency to whose interests they are sensitive. To understand a negotiator’s interests means to
    understand the variety of somewhat differing interests that they need to take into account.

    The most powerful interests are basic human needs. In searching for the basic interests behind a
    declared position, look particularly for those bedrock concerns that motivate all people. If you can take
    care of such basic needs, you increase the chance both of reaching agreement and, if an agreement is
    reached, of the other side’s keeping to it. Basic human needs include:

    economic well-being
    a sense of belonging
    control over one’s life

    As fundamental as they are, basic human needs are easy to overlook. In many negotiations, we tend to
    think that the only interest involved is money. Yet even in a negotiation over a monetary figure, such as the
    amount of alimony to be specified in a separation agreement, much more can be involved. What does a
    spouse really want in asking for $1,000 a week in alimony? Certainly they are interested in economic
    well-being, but what else? Possibly they want the money in order to feel psychologically secure. They
    may also want it for recognition: to feel treated fairly and as an equal. Perhaps their partner can ill afford
    to pay $1,000 a week, and perhaps that is more than is actually needed, yet the spouse will likely accept
    less only if their need for security and recognition are met in other ways.

    What is true for individuals remains equally true for groups and nations. Negotiations are not likely to
    make much progress as long as one side believes that the fulfillment of their basic human needs is being

    threatened by the other. In negotiations between the United States and Mexico, the United States wanted a
    low price for Mexican natural gas. Assuming that this was a negotiation over money, the U.S. Secretary of
    Energy refused to approve a price increase negotiated with the Mexicans by a U.S. oil consortium. Since
    the Mexicans had no other potential buyer at the time, he assumed that they would then lower their asking
    price. But the Mexicans had a strong interest not only in getting a good price for their gas but also in being
    treated with respect and a sense of equality. The U.S. action seemed like one more attempt to bully
    Mexico; it produced enormous anger. Rather than sell their gas, the Mexican government began to burn it
    off, and any chance of agreement on a lower price became politically impossible.

    To take another example, in negotiations over the future of Northern Ireland, Protestant leaders long
    tended to ignore the Catholics’ need for both belonging and recognition, for being accepted and treated as
    equals. In turn, Catholic leaders often appeared to give too little weight to the Protestants’ need to feel
    secure. Treating Protestant fears as “their problem” rather than as a legitimate concern needing attention
    made it even more difficult to negotiate a solution.

    Make a list. To sort out the various interests of each side, it helps to write them down as they occur to
    you. This will not only help you remember them; it will also enable you to improve the quality of your
    assessment as you learn new information and to place interests in their estimated order of importance.
    Furthermore, it may stimulate ideas for how to meet these interests.

    Talking about interests
    The purpose of negotiating is to serve your interests. The chance of that happening increases when you
    communicate them. The other side may not know what your interests are, and you may not know theirs.
    One or both of you may be focusing on past grievances instead of on future concerns. Or you may not even
    be listening to each other. How do you discuss interests constructively without getting locked into rigid

    If you want the other side to take your interests into account, explain to them what those interests are.
    A member of a concerned citizens’ group complaining about a construction project in the neighborhood
    should talk explicitly about such issues as ensuring children’s safety and getting a good night’s sleep. An
    author who wants to be able to give a great many of his books away should discuss the matter with his
    publisher. The publisher has a shared interest in promotion and may be willing to offer the author a low

    Make your interests come alive. If you go with a raging ulcer to see a doctor, you should not hope
    for much relief if you describe it as a mild stomachache. It is your job to have the other side understand
    exactly how important and legitimate your interests are.

    One guideline is be specific. Concrete details not only make your description credible, they add
    impact. For example: “Three times in the last week, a child was almost run over by one of your trucks.
    About eight-thirty Tuesday morning that huge red gravel truck of yours, going north at almost forty miles
    an hour, had to swerve and barely missed hitting seven-year-old Loretta Johnson.”

    As long as you do not seem to imply that the other side’s interests are unimportant or illegitimate, you
    can afford to take a strong stance in setting forth the seriousness of your concerns. Inviting the other side
    to “correct me if I’m wrong” shows your openness, and if they do not correct you, it implies that they
    accept your description of the situation.

    Part of the task of impressing the other side with your interests lies in establishing the legitimacy of
    those interests. You want them to feel not that you are attacking them personally, but rather that the
    problem you face legitimately demands attention. You need to convince them that they might well feel the

    same way if they were in your shoes. “Do you have children? How would you feel if trucks were hurtling
    at forty miles per hour down the street where you live?”

    Acknowledge their interests as part of the problem. Each of us tends to be so concerned with his or
    her own interests that we pay too little heed to the interests of others.

    People listen better if they feel that you have understood them. They tend to think that those who
    understand them are intelligent and sympathetic people whose own opinions may be worth listening to. So
    if you want the other side to appreciate your interests, begin by demonstrating that you appreciate theirs.

    “As I understand it, your interests as a construction company are basically to get the job done quickly
    at minimum cost and to preserve your reputation for safety and responsibility in the city. Have I
    understood you correctly? Do you have other important interests?”

    In addition to demonstrating that you have understood their interests, it helps to acknowledge that their
    interests are part of the overall problem you are trying to solve. This is especially easy to do if you have
    shared interests: “It would be terrible for all of us if one of your trucks hit a child.”

    Put the problem before your answer. In talking to someone who represents a construction company,
    you might say, “We believe you should build a fence around the project within forty-eight hours and
    beginning immediately should restrict the speed of your trucks on Oak Street to fifteen miles per hour.
    Now let me tell you why. . . .” If you do, you can be quite certain that the representatives will not be
    listening to the reasons. They have heard your position and are no doubt busy preparing arguments against
    it. They probably were disturbed by your tone or by the suggestion itself. As a result, your justification
    will slip by them altogether.

    If you want someone to listen and understand your reasoning, give your interests and reasoning first
    and your conclusions or proposals later. Tell the company first about the dangers they are creating for
    young children and about your sleepless nights. Then they will be listening carefully, if only to try to
    figure out where you will end up on this question. And when you tell them, they will understand why.

    Look forward, not back. It is surprising how often we simply react to what someone else has said or
    done. Two people will often fall into a pattern of discourse that resembles a negotiation, but really has no
    such purpose whatsoever. They disagree with each other over some issue, and the talk goes back and forth
    as though they were seeking agreement. In fact, the argument is being carried on as a ritual, or simply a
    pastime. Each is engaged in scoring points against the other or in gathering evidence to confirm views
    about the other that have long been held and are not about to change. Neither party is seeking agreement or
    is even trying to influence the other.

    If you ask two people why they are arguing, the answer will typically identify a cause, not a purpose.
    Caught up in a quarrel, whether between husband and wife, between company and union, or between two
    businesses, people are more likely to respond to what the other side has said or done than to act in pursuit
    of their own long-term interests. “They can’t treat me like that. If they think they’re going to get away with
    that, they will have to think again. I’ll show them.”

    The question “Why?” has two quite different meanings. One looks backward for a cause and treats
    our behavior as determined by prior events. The other looks forward for a purpose and treats our
    behavior as subject to our free will. We need not enter into a philosophical debate between free will and
    determinism in order to decide how to act. Either we have free will or it is determined that we behave as
    if we do. In either case, we make choices. We can choose to look back or to look forward.

    You will satisfy your interests better if you talk about where you would like to go rather than about
    where you have come from. Instead of arguing with the other side about the past—about last quarter’s
    costs (which were too high), last week’s action (taken without adequate authority), or yesterday’s
    performance (which was less than expected)—talk about what you want to have happen in the future.

    Instead of asking them to justify what they did yesterday, ask, “Who should do what tomorrow?”
    Be concrete but flexible. In a negotiation you want to know where you are going and yet be open to

    fresh ideas. To avoid having to make a difficult decision on what to settle for, people will often go into a
    negotiation with no plan other than to sit down with the other side and see what they offer or demand.

    How can you move from identifying interests to developing specific options and still remain flexible
    with regard to those options? To convert your interests into concrete options, ask yourself, “If tomorrow
    the other side agrees to go along with me, what do I now think I would like them to go along with?” To
    keep your flexibility, treat each option you formulate as simply illustrative. Think in terms of more than
    one option that meets your interests. “Illustrative specificity” is the key concept.

    Much of what positional bargainers hope to achieve with an opening position can be accomplished
    equally well with an illustrative suggestion that generously takes care of your interest. For example, in a
    sports contract negotiation, an agent might say that “$5,000,000 a year would be the kind of figure that
    should satisfy Henderson’s interest in receiving the salary he feels he is worth. Something on the order of
    a five-year contract should meet his need for job security.”

    Having thought about your interests, you should go into a meeting not only with one or more specific
    options that would meet your legitimate interests but also with an open mind. An open mind is not an
    empty one.

    Be hard on the problem, soft on the people. You can be just as hard in talking about your interests as
    any negotiator can be in talking about their position. In fact, it is usually advisable to be hard. It may not
    be wise to commit yourself to your position, but it is wise to commit yourself to your interests. This is the
    place in a negotiation to spend your aggressive energies. The other side, being concerned with their own
    interests, will tend to have overly optimistic expectations of the range of possible agreements. Often the
    wisest solutions, those that produce the maximum gain for you at the minimum cost to the other side, are
    produced only by strongly advocating your interests. Two negotiators, each pushing hard for their
    interests, will often stimulate each other’s creativity in thinking up mutually advantageous solutions.

    The construction company, concerned with inflation, may place a high value on its interest in keeping
    costs down and in getting the job done on time. You may have to shake them up. Some honest emotion may
    help restore a better balance between profits and children’s lives. Do not let your desire to be
    conciliatory stop you from doing justice to your problem. “Surely you’re not saying that my son’s life is
    worth less than the price of a fence. You wouldn’t say that about your son. I don’t believe you’re an
    insensitive person, Mr. Jenkins. Let’s figure out how to solve this problem.”

    If they feel personally threatened by an attack on the problem, they may grow defensive and may cease
    to listen. This is why it is important to separate the people from the problem. Attack the problem without
    blaming the people. Go even further and be personally supportive: Listen to them with respect, show them
    courtesy, express your appreciation for their time and effort, emphasize your concern with meeting their
    basic needs, and so on. Show them that you are attacking the problem, not them.

    One useful rule of thumb is to give positive support to the human beings on the other side equal in
    strength to the vigor with which you emphasize the problem. This combination of support and attack may
    seem inconsistent. Psychologically, it is; the inconsistency helps make it work. A well-known theory of
    psychology, the theory of cognitive dissonance, holds that people dislike inconsistency and will act to
    eliminate it. By attacking a problem, such as speeding trucks on a neighborhood street, and at the same
    time giving the company representative, Mr. Jenkins, positive support, you create cognitive dissonance for
    him. To overcome this dissonance, he will be tempted to dissociate himself from the problem in order to
    join you in doing something about it.

    Fighting hard on the substantive issues increases the pressure for an effective solution; giving support

    to the human beings on the other side tends to improve your relationship and to increase the likelihood of
    reaching agreement. It is the combination of support and attack that works; either alone is likely to be

    Negotiating hard for your interests does not mean being closed to the other side’s point of view. Quite
    the contrary. You can hardly expect the other side to listen to your interests and discuss the options you
    suggest if you don’t take their interests into account and show yourself to be open to their suggestions.
    Successful negotiation requires being both firm and open.

    4 Invent Options for Mutual Gain

    The case of Israel and Egypt negotiating over who should keep how much of the Sinai Peninsula
    illustrates both a major problem in negotiation and a key opportunity.

    The problem is a common one. There seems to be no way to split the pie that leaves both parties
    satisfied. Often you are negotiating along a single dimension, such as the amount of territory, the price of a
    car, the length of a lease on an apartment, or the size of a commission on a sale. At other times you face
    what appears to be an either/or choice that is either markedly favorable to you or to the other side. In a
    divorce settlement, who gets the house? Who gets custody of the children? You may see the choice as one
    between winning and losing—and neither side will agree to lose. Even if you do win and get the car for
    $15,000, the lease for five years, or the house and kids, you have a sinking feeling that they will not let
    you forget it. Whatever the situation, your choices seem limited.

    The Sinai example also makes clear the opportunity. A creative option like a demilitarized Sinai can
    often make the difference between deadlock and agreement. One lawyer we know attributes his success
    directly to his ability to invent solutions advantageous to both his client and the other side. He expands the
    pie before dividing it. Skill at inventing options is one of the most useful assets a negotiator can have.

    Yet all too often negotiators end up like the proverbial children who quarreled over an orange. After
    they finally agreed to divide the orange in half, the first child took one half, ate the fruit, and threw away
    the peel, while the other threw away the fruit and used the peel from the second half in baking a cake. All
    too often negotiators “leave money on the table”—they fail to reach agreement when they might have, or
    the agreement they do reach could have been better for each side. Too many negotiations end up with half
    an orange for each side instead of the whole fruit for one and the whole peel for the other. Why?

    As valuable as it is to have many options, people involved in a negotiation rarely sense a need for them.
    In a dispute, people usually believe that they know the right answer—their view should prevail. In a
    contract negotiation they are equally likely to believe that their offer is reasonable and should be adopted,
    perhaps with some adjustment in the price. All available answers appear to lie along a straight line
    between their position and yours. Often the only creative thinking shown is to suggest splitting the

    In most negotiations there are four major obstacles that inhibit the inventing of an abundance of
    options: (1) premature judgment; (2) searching for the single answer; (3) the assumption of a fixed pie;
    and (4) thinking that “solving their problem is their problem.” To overcome these constraints, you need to
    understand them.

    Premature judgment
    Inventing options does not come naturally. Not inventing is the normal state of affairs, even when you are
    outside a stressful negotiation. If you were asked to name the one person in the world most deserving of
    the Nobel Peace Prize, any answer you might start to propose would immediately encounter your
    reservations and doubts. How could you be sure that that person was the most deserving? Your mind
    might well go blank, or you might throw out a few answers that would reflect conventional thinking:
    “Well, maybe the Pope, or the President.”

    Nothing is so harmful to inventing as a critical sense waiting to pounce on the drawbacks of any new
    idea. Judgment hinders imagination.

    Under the pressure of a forthcoming negotiation, your critical sense is likely to be sharper. Practical
    negotiation appears to call for practical thinking, not wild ideas.

    Your creativity may be even more stifled by the presence of those on the other side. Suppose you are
    negotiating with your boss over your salary for the coming year. You have asked for a $4,000 raise; your
    boss has offered you $1,500, a figure that you have indicated is unsatisfactory. In a tense situation like this
    you are not likely to start inventing imaginative solutions. You may fear that if you suggest some bright
    half-baked idea like taking half the increase in a raise and half in additional benefits, you might look
    foolish. Your boss might say, “Be serious. You know better than that. It would upset company policy. I am
    surprised that you even suggested it.” If on the spur of the moment you invent a possible option of
    spreading out the raise over time, your boss may take it as an offer: “I’m prepared to start negotiating on
    that basis.” Since whatever you say may be taken as a commitment, you will think twice before saying

    You may also fear that by inventing options you will disclose some piece of information that will
    jeopardize your bargaining position. If you should suggest, for example, that the company help finance the
    house you are about to buy, your boss may conclude that you intend to stay and that you will in the end
    accept any raise in salary the boss decides to offer.

    Searching for the single answer
    In most people’s minds, inventing simply is not part of the negotiating process. People see their job as
    narrowing the gap between positions, not broadening the options available. They tend to think, “We’re
    having a hard enough time agreeing as it is. The last thing we need is a bunch of different ideas.” Since the
    end product of negotiation is a single decision, they fear that free-floating discussion will only delay and
    confuse the process.

    If the first impediment to creative thinking is premature criticism, the second is premature closure. By
    looking from the outset for the single best answer, you are likely to short-circuit a wiser decision-making
    process in which you select from a large number of possible answers.

    The assumption of a fixed pie
    A third explanation for why there may be so few good options on the table is that each side sees the
    situation as essentially either/or—either I get what is in dispute or you do. A negotiation often appears to
    be a “fixed-sum” game; $100 more for you on the price of a car means $100 less for me. Why bother to
    invent if all the options are obvious and I can satisfy you only at my own expense?

    Thinking that “solving their problem is their problem”
    A final obstacle to inventing realistic options lies in each side’s concern with only its own immediate
    interests. For you as a negotiator to reach an agreement that meets your own self-interest, you need to
    develop a solution that also appeals to the self-interest of the other. Yet emotional involvement on one
    side of an issue makes it difficult to achieve the detachment necessary to think up wise ways of meeting
    the interests of both sides: “We’ve got enough problems of our own; they can look after theirs.” There
    also frequently exists a psychological reluctance to accord any legitimacy to the views of the other side; it
    seems disloyal to think up ways to satisfy them. Shortsighted self-concern thus leads a negotiator to
    develop only partisan positions, partisan arguments, and one-sided solutions.

    To invent creative options, then, you will need to (1) separate the act of inventing options from the act of
    judging them; (2) broaden the options on the table rather than look for a single answer; (3) search for
    mutual gains; and (4) invent ways of making their decisions easy. Each of these steps is discussed below.

    Separate inventing from deciding
    Since judgment hinders imagination, separate the creative act from the critical one; separate the process
    of thinking up possible decisions from the process of selecting among them. Invent first, decide later.

    As a negotiator, you will of necessity do much inventing by yourself. It is not easy. By definition,
    inventing new ideas requires you to think about things that are not already in your mind. You should
    therefore consider the desirability of arranging an inventing or brainstorming session with a few
    colleagues or friends. Such a session can effectively separate inventing from deciding.

    A brainstorming session is designed to produce as many ideas as possible to solve the problem at
    hand. The key ground rule is to postpone all criticism and evaluation of ideas. The group simply invents
    ideas without pausing to consider whether they are good or bad, realistic or unrealistic. With those
    inhibitions removed, one idea should stimulate another, like firecrackers setting off one another.

    In a brainstorming session, people need not fear looking foolish since wild ideas are explicitly
    encouraged. And in the absence of the other side, negotiators need not worry about disclosing confidential
    information or having a half-baked idea taken as a serious commitment.

    There is no right way to run a brainstorming session. Rather, you should tailor it to your needs and
    resources. In doing so, you may find it useful to consider the following guidelines.

    Before brainstorming:
    1. Define your purpose. Think of what you would like to walk out of the meeting with.
    2. Choose a few participants. The group should normally be large enough to provide a stimulating

    interchange, yet small enough to encourage both individual participation and free-wheeling inventing—
    usually between five and eight people.

    3. Change the environment. Select a time and place distinguishing the session as much as possible
    from regular discussions. The more different a brainstorming session seems from a normal meeting, the
    easier it is for participants to suspend judgment.

    4. Design an informal atmosphere. What does it take for you and others to relax? It may be talking
    over a drink, or meeting at a vacation lodge in some picturesque spot, or dressing less formally during the

    meeting and calling one another by your first names.
    5. Choose a facilitator. Someone at the meeting needs to facilitate—to keep the meeting on track, to

    make sure everyone gets a chance to speak, to enforce any ground rules, and to stimulate discussion by
    asking questions.

    During brainstorming:
    1. Seat the participants side by side facing the problem. The physical reinforces the psychological.

    Physically sitting side by side can reinforce the mental attitude of tackling a common problem together.
    People facing each other tend to respond personally and engage in dialogue or argument; people sitting
    side by side in a semicircle of chairs facing a flip chart or whiteboard tend to respond to the problem
    depicted there.

    2. Clarify the ground rules, including the no-criticism rule. If the participants do not all know each
    other, the meeting begins with introductions all around, followed by clarification of the ground rules.
    Outlaw negative criticism of any kind.

    Joint inventing produces new ideas because each of us invents only within the limits set by our
    working assumptions. If ideas are shot down unless they appeal to all participants, the implicit goal
    becomes to advance an idea that no one will shoot down. If, on the other hand, wild ideas are encouraged,
    even those that in fact lie well outside the realm of the possible, the group may generate from these ideas
    other options that are possible and that no one would previously have considered.

    Other ground rules you may want to adopt are to make the entire session off the record and to refrain
    from attributing ideas to any participant.

    3. Brainstorm. Once the purpose of the meeting is clear, let your imaginations go. Try to come up with
    a long list of ideas, approaching the question from every conceivable angle.

    4. Record the ideas in full view. Recording ideas either on a whiteboard or flipcharts gives the group
    a tangible sense of collective achievement; it reinforces the no-criticism rule; it reduces the tendency to
    repeat; and it helps stimulate other ideas.

    After brainstorming:
    1. Star the most promising ideas. After brainstorming, relax the no-criticism rule to begin winnowing

    out the most promising ideas. You are still not at the stage of deciding; you are merely nominating ideas
    worth developing further. Mark those ideas that members of the group think are best.

    2. Invent improvements for promising ideas. Take one promising idea and invent ways to make it
    better and more realistic, as well as ways to carry it out. The task at this stage is to make the idea as
    attractive as you can. Preface constructive criticism with: “What I like best about that idea is . . . . Might
    it be even better if . . . ?”

    3. Set up a time to evaluate ideas and decide. Before you break, draw up a selective and improved
    list of ideas from the session and set up a time for deciding which of these ideas to advance in your
    negotiation and how.

    Consider brainstorming with the other side. Although more difficult than brainstorming with your
    own side, brainstorming with people from the other side can also prove extremely valuable. It is more
    difficult because of the increased risk that you will say something that prejudices your interests despite
    the rules established for a brainstorming session. You may disclose confidential information inadvertently
    or lead the other side to mistake an option you devise for an offer. Nevertheless, joint brainstorming
    sessions have the great advantages of producing ideas that take into account the interests of all those

    involved, of creating a climate of joint problem-solving, and of educating each side about the concerns of
    the other.

    To protect yourself when brainstorming with the other side, distinguish the brainstorming session
    explicitly from a negotiating session where people state official views and speak on the record. People
    are so accustomed to meeting for the purpose of reaching agreement that any other purpose needs to be
    clearly stated.

    To reduce the risk of appearing committed to any given idea, you can make a habit of advancing at
    least two alternatives at the same time. You can also put on the table options with which you obviously
    disagree. “I could give you the house for nothing, or you could pay me a million dollars in cash for it,
    or . . . .” Since you are plainly not proposing either of these ideas, the ones that follow are labeled as
    mere possibilities, not proposals.

    To get the flavor of a joint brainstorming session, let us suppose the leaders of a local union are
    meeting with the management of a coal mine to brainstorm on ways to reduce unauthorized one- or two-
    day strikes. Ten people—five from each side—are present, sitting around a table facing a whiteboard. A
    neutral facilitator asks the participants for their ideas, and writes them up on the whiteboard.

    Facilitator: OK, now let’s see what ideas you have for dealing with this problem of unauthorized work stoppages. Let’s try to
    get ten ideas on the whiteboard in five minutes. OK, let’s start. Tom?

    Tom (Union): Foremen ought to be able to settle a union member’s grievance on the spot.
    Facilitator: Good, I’ve got it down. Jim, you’ve got your hand up.
    Jim (Management): A union member ought to talk to his foreman about a problem before taking any action that—
    Tom (Union): They do, but the foremen don’t listen.
    Facilitator: Tom, please, no criticizing yet. We agreed to postpone that until later, OK? How about you, Jerry? You look like

    you’ve got an idea.
    Jerry (Unlon): When a strike issue comes up, the union members should be allowed to meet in the bathhouse immediately.
    Roger (Management): Management could agree to let the bathhouse be used for union meetings and could assure the

    employees’ privacy by shutting the doors and keeping the foremen out.
    Carol (Management): How about adopting the rule that there will be no strike without giving the union leaders and

    management a chance to work it out on the spot?
    Jerry (Union): How about speeding up the grievance procedure and having a meeting within twenty-four hours if the foreman

    and union member don’t settle it between themselves?
    Karen (Union): Yeah. And how about organizing some joint training for the union members and the foremen on how to handle

    their problems together?
    PhiI (Union): If a person does a good job, let him know it.
    John (Management): Establish friendly relations between union people and management people.
    Facilitator: That sounds promising, John, but could you be more specific?
    John (Management): Well, how about organizing a union–management softball team?
    Tom (Union): And a bowling team too.
    Roger (Management): How about an annual picnic get-together for all the families?

    And on it goes, as the participants brainstorm lots of ideas. Many of the ideas might never have come
    up except in such a brainstorming session, and some of them may prove effective in reducing unauthorized
    strikes. Time spent brainstorming together is surely among the best-spent time in negotiation.

    But whether you brainstorm together or not, separating the act of developing options from the act of
    deciding on them is extremely useful in any negotiation. Discussing options differs radically from taking
    positions. Whereas one side’s position will conflict with another’s, options invite other options. The very
    language you use differs. It consists of questions, not assertions; it is open, not closed: “One option
    is . . . . What other options have you thought of?” “What if we agreed to this?” “How about doing it this
    way?” “How would this work?” “What would be wrong with that?” Invent before you decide.

    Broaden your options
    Even with the best of intentions, participants in a brainstorming session are likely to operate on the
    assumption that they are really looking for the one best answer, trying to find a needle in a haystack by
    picking up every blade of hay.

    At this stage in a negotiation, however, you should not be looking for the right path. You are
    developing room within which to negotiate. Room can be made only by having a substantial number of
    markedly different ideas—ideas on which you and the other side can build later in the negotiation, and
    among which you can then jointly choose.

    A vintner making a fine wine chooses his grapes from a number of varieties. A sports team looking for
    star players will send talent scouts to scour the local leagues and college teams all over the nation. The
    same principle applies to negotiation. The key to wise decision-making, whether in wine-making, sports,
    or negotiation, lies in selecting from a great number and variety of options.

    If you were asked who should receive the Nobel Peace Prize this year, you would do well to answer
    “Well, let’s think about it” and generate a list of about a hundred names from diplomacy, business,
    journalism, religion, law, agriculture, politics, academia, medicine, and other fields, making sure to
    dream up a lot of wild ideas. You would almost certainly end up with a better decision this way than if
    you tried to decide right from the start.

    A brainstorming session frees people to think creatively. Once freed, they need ways to think about
    their problems and to generate constructive solutions.

    Multiply options by shuttling between the specific and the general: The Circle Chart. The task of
    inventing options involves four types of thinking. One is thinking about a particular problem—the factual
    situation you dislike, for example, a smelly, polluted river that runs by your land. The second type of
    thinking is descriptive analysis—you diagnose an existing situation in general terms. You sort problems
    into categories and tentatively suggest causes. The river water may have a high content of various
    chemicals, or too little oxygen. You may suspect various upstream industrial plants. The third type of
    thinking, again in general terms, is to consider what ought, perhaps, to be done. Given the diagnoses you
    have made, you look for prescriptions that theory may suggest, such as reducing chemical effluent,
    reducing diversions of water, or bringing fresh water from some other river. The fourth and final type of
    thinking is to come up with some specific and feasible suggestions for action. Who might do what
    tomorrow to put one of these general approaches into practice? For instance, the state environmental
    agency might order an upstream industry to limit the quantity of chemical discharge.

    The Circle Chart on the next page illustrates these four types of thinking and suggests them as steps to
    be taken in sequence. If all goes well, the specific action invented in this way will, if adopted, deal with
    your original problem.

    The Circle Chart provides an easy way of using one good idea to generate others. With one useful
    action idea before you, you (or a group of you who are brainstorming) can go back and try to identify the
    general approach of which the action idea is merely one application. You can then think up other action
    ideas that would apply the same general approach to the real world. Similarly, you can go back one step
    further and ask, “If this theoretical approach appears useful, what is the diagnosis behind it?” Having
    articulated a diagnosis, you can generate other approaches for dealing with a problem analyzed in that
    way, and then look for actions putting these new approaches into practice. One good option on the table
    thus opens the door to asking about the theory that makes this option good and then using that theory to
    invent more options.

    An example may illustrate the process. In thinking about how to deal with the conflict in Northern
    Ireland, one idea generated in the 1980s was to have Catholic and Protestant teachers prepare a common
    workbook on the history of Northern Ireland for use in the primary grades of both school systems. The
    book, which was actually created and used in the 1990s, presents Northern Irish history as seen from
    different points of view and gives the children exercises that involve role-playing and putting themselves
    in other people’s shoes. More useful ideas were then generated by starting with this specific action
    suggestion and asking what theoretical approaches underlay it. This resulted in such general propositions

    “There should be some common educational content in the two school systems.”
    “Catholics and Protestants should work together on small, manageable projects.”
    “Understanding should be promoted in young children before it is too late.”
    “History should be taught in ways that illuminate partisan perceptions.”
    Working from these theories additional action suggestions were invented, including a joint Catholic

    and Protestant film project that presents the history of Northern Ireland as seen through different eyes, a
    teacher exchange program, and having some common classes for primary-age children in the two systems.

    Look through the eyes of different experts. Another way to generate multiple options is to examine
    your problem from the perspective of different professions and disciplines.

    In thinking up possible solutions to a dispute over custody of a child, for example, look at the problem
    as it might be seen by an educator, a banker, a psychiatrist, a civil rights lawyer, a minister, a nutritionist,
    a doctor, a feminist, a football coach, or one with some other special point of view. If you are negotiating
    a business contract, invent options that might occur to a banker, an inventor, a labor leader, a speculator in
    real estate, a stockbroker, an economist, a tax expert, or a socialist.

    You can also combine the use of the Circle Chart with this idea of looking at a problem through the
    eyes of different experts. Consider in turn how each expert would diagnose the situation, what kinds of
    approaches each might suggest, and what practical suggestions would follow from those approaches.

    Invent agreements of different strengths. You can multiply the number of possible agreements on
    the table by thinking of “weaker” versions you might want to have on hand in case a sought-for agreement
    proves beyond reach. If you cannot agree on substance, perhaps you can agree on procedure. If a shoe
    factory cannot agree with a wholesaler on who should pay for a shipment of damaged shoes, perhaps they
    can agree to submit the issue to an arbitrator. Similarly, where a permanent agreement is not possible,
    perhaps a provisional agreement is. At the very least, if you and the other side cannot reach first-order
    agreement, you can usually reach second-order agreement—that is, agree on where you disagree, so that
    you both know the issues in dispute, which are not always obvious. The pairs of adjectives below suggest
    potential agreements of differing “strengths”:

    Stronger Weaker

    Substantive Procedural

    Permanent Provisional

    Comprehensive Partial

    Final In principle

    Unconditional Contingent

    Binding Nonbinding

    First-order Second-order

    Change the scope of a proposed agreement. Consider the possibility of varying not only the strength

    of the agreement but also its scope. You could, for instance, “fractionate” your problem into smaller and
    perhaps more manageable units. To a prospective editor for your book, you might suggest: “How about
    editing the first chapter for $300, and we’ll see how it goes?” Agreements may be partial, involve fewer
    parties, cover only selected subject matters, apply only to a certain geographical area, or remain in effect
    for only a limited period of time.

    It is also provocative to ask how the subject matter might be enlarged so as to “sweeten the pot” and
    make agreement more attractive. The dispute between India and Pakistan over the waters of the Indus
    River became more amenable to settlement when the World Bank entered the discussions; the parties
    were challenged to invent new irrigation projects, new storage dams, and other engineering works for the
    benefit of both nations, all to be funded with the assistance of the Bank.

    Look for mutual gain
    The third major block to creative problem-solving lies in the assumption of a fixed pie: the less for you,
    the more for me. Rarely if ever is this assumption true. First of all, both sides can always be worse off
    than they are now. Chess looks like a zero-sum game; if one loses, the other wins—until a dog trots by and
    knocks over the table, spills the beer, and leaves you both worse off than before.

    Even apart from a shared interest in averting joint loss, there almost always exists the possibility of
    joint gain. This may take the form of developing a mutually advantageous relationship, or of satisfying the
    interests of each side with a creative solution.

    Identify shared interests. In theory it is obvious that shared interests help produce agreement. By
    definition, inventing an idea that meets shared interests is good for you and good for them. In practice,
    however, the picture seems less clear. In the middle of a negotiation over price, shared interests may not
    appear obvious or relevant. How then can looking for shared interests help?

    Let’s take an example. Suppose you are the manager of an oil refinery. Call it Townsend Oil. The
    mayor of Pageville, the city where the refinery is located, has told you he wants to raise the taxes
    Townsend Oil pays to Pageville from two million dollars a year to four million. You have told him that
    you think two million a year is quite sufficient. The negotiation stands there: he wants more, you want to
    pay what you have been paying. In this negotiation, a typical one in many ways, where do shared interests
    come into play?

    Let’s take a closer look at what the mayor wants. He wants money—money undoubtedly to pay for city
    services, a new civic center, perhaps, and to relieve the ordinary taxpayers. But the city cannot obtain all
    the money it needs for now and for the future just from Townsend Oil. They will look for money from the
    petrochemical plant across the street, for example, and, for the future, from new businesses and from the
    expansion of existing businesses. The mayor, a businessman himself, would also like to encourage
    industrial expansion and attract new businesses that will provide new jobs and strengthen Pageville’s

    What are your company’s interests? Given the rapid changes in the technology of refining oil, and the
    antiquated condition of your refinery, you are presently considering a major refurbishment and expansion
    of the plant. You are concerned that the city may later increase its assessment of the value of the expanded
    refinery, thus making taxes even higher. Consider also that you have been encouraging a plastics plant to
    locate itself nearby to make convenient use of your product. Naturally, you worry that the plastics plant
    will have second thoughts once they see the city increasing taxes.

    The shared interests between the mayor and you now become more apparent. You both agree on the
    goals of fostering industrial expansion and encouraging new industries. If you did some inventing to meet

    these shared goals, you might come up with several ideas: a tax holiday of seven years for new industries,
    a joint publicity campaign with the Chamber of Commerce to attract new companies, a reduction in taxes
    for existing industries that choose to expand. Such ideas might save you money while still filling the city’s
    coffers. If on the other hand the negotiation soured the relationship between company and town, both
    would lose. You might cut back on your corporate contributions to city charities and school athletics. The
    city might become unreasonably tough in enforcing the building code and other ordinances. Your personal
    relationship with the city’s political and business leaders might grow unpleasant. The relationship
    between the sides, often taken for granted and overlooked, frequently outweighs in importance the
    outcome of any particular issue.

    As a negotiator, you will almost always want to look for solutions that will leave the other side
    satisfied as well. If the customer feels cheated in a purchase, the store owner has also failed; he may lose
    a customer and his reputation may suffer. An outcome in which the other side gets absolutely nothing is
    worse for you than one that leaves them mollified. In almost every case, your satisfaction depends to a
    degree on making the other side sufficiently content with an agreement to want to live up to it.

    Three points about shared interests are worth remembering. First, shared interests lie latent in every
    negotiation. They may not be immediately obvious. Ask yourself: Do we have a shared interest in
    preserving our relationship? What opportunities lie ahead for cooperation and mutual benefit? What costs
    would we bear if negotiations broke off? Are there common principles, like a fair price, that we both can

    Second, shared interests are opportunities, not godsends. To be of use, you need to make something out
    of them. It helps to make a shared interest explicit and to formulate it as a shared goal. In other words,
    make it concrete and future-oriented. As manager of Townsend Oil, for example, you could set a joint
    goal with the mayor of bringing five new industries into Pageville within three years. The tax holiday for
    new industries would then represent not a concession by the mayor to you but an action in pursuit of your
    shared goal.

    Third, stressing your shared interests can make the negotiation smoother and more amicable.
    Passengers in a lifeboat afloat in the middle of the ocean with limited rations will subordinate their
    differences over food in pursuit of their shared interest in getting to shore.

    Dovetail differing interests. Consider once again the two children quarreling over an orange. Each
    child wanted the orange, so they split it, failing to realize that one wanted only the fruit to eat and the other
    only the peel for baking. In this case as in many others, a satisfactory agreement is made possible because
    each side wants different things. This is genuinely startling if you think about it. People generally assume
    that differences between two parties create the problem. Yet differences can also lead to a solution.

    Agreement is often based on disagreement. It is as absurd to think, for example, that you should always
    begin by reaching agreement on the facts as it is for a buyer of stock to try to convince the seller that the
    stock is likely to go up. If they did agree that the stock would go up, the seller would probably not sell.
    What makes a deal likely is that the buyer believes the price will go up and the seller believes it will go
    down. The difference in belief provides the basis for a deal.

    Many creative agreements reflect this principle of reaching agreement through differences. Differences
    in interests and belief make it possible for an item to be of high benefit to you, yet low cost to the other
    side. Consider the nursery rhyme:

    Jack Sprat could eat no fat
    His wife could eat no lean,
    And so betwixt them both

    They licked the platter clean.

    The kinds of differences that best lend themselves to dovetailing are differences in interests, in
    beliefs, in the value placed on time, in forecasts, and in aversion to risk.

    Any difference in interests? The following brief checklist suggests common variations in interest to
    look for:

    One party cares more about: The other party cares more about:

    Form Substance

    Economic considerations Political considerations

    Internal considerations External considerations

    Symbolic considerations Practical considerations

    Immediate future More distant future

    Ad hoc results The relationship

    Hardware Ideology

    Progress Respect for tradition

    Precedent This case

    Prestige, reputation Results

    Political points Group welfare

    Different beliefs? If I believe I’m right, and you believe you’re right, we can take advantage of this
    difference in beliefs. We may both agree to have an impartial arbitrator settle the issue, each confident of
    victory. If two factions of the union leadership cannot agree on a certain wage proposal, they can agree to
    submit the issue to a membership vote.

    Different values placed on time? You may care more about the present while the other side cares
    more about the future. In the language of business, you discount future value at different rates. An
    installment plan works on this principle. The buyer is willing to pay a higher price for a car if it is
    possible to pay over time; the seller is willing to accept payment later for a higher price.

    Different forecasts? In a salary negotiation between an aging football star and a major team, the
    player may expect to win a lot of games while the team owner has the opposite expectation. Taking
    advantage of these different expectations, they might both agree on a modest base salary plus a big bonus
    if the team makes the playoffs.

    Differences in aversion to risk? One last kind of difference that you may capitalize on is aversion to
    risk. Take, for example, the issue of deep-seabed mining that arose in international Law of the Sea
    negotiations. How much should mining companies pay the international community for the privilege of
    mining minerals from the seabed in international waters? The mining companies care more about avoiding
    big losses than they do about making big gains. For them deep-seabed mining is a major investment. They
    want to reduce the risk. The international community, on the other hand, is concerned with revenue. If
    some company is going to make a lot of money out of “the common heritage of mankind,” the rest of the
    world wants a generous share.

    In this difference lies the potential for a bargain advantageous to both sides. Risk can be traded for
    revenue. Exploiting this difference in aversion to risk, the resulting treaty provides for charging the
    companies low rates until they recover their investment—in other words, while their risk is high—and
    much higher rates thereafter, when their risk is low.

    Ask for their preferences. One way to dovetail interests is to invent several options all equally
    acceptable to you and ask the other side which one they prefer. You want to know what is preferable, not
    necessarily what is acceptable. You can then take that option, work with it some more, and again present
    two or more variants, asking which one they prefer. In this way, without anyone’s making a decision, you
    can improve a plan until you can find no more joint gains. For example, the agent for the sports star might
    ask the team owner: “What meets your interests better, a salary of $8.75 million a year for four years, or
    $10 million a year for three years? The latter? OK, how about between that and $7.5 million a year for
    three years with a $10 million bonus in each year that Fernando is voted MVP or the team wins the

    If dovetailing had to be summed up in one sentence, it would be: Look for items that are of low cost to
    you and high benefit to them, and vice versa. Differences in interests, priorities, beliefs, forecasts, and
    attitudes toward risk all make dovetailing possible. A negotiator’s motto could be “Vive la différence!”

    Make their decision easy
    Since success for you in a negotiation depends upon the other side’s making a decision you want, you
    should do what you can to make that decision an easy one. Rather than make things difficult for the other
    side, you want to confront them with a choice that is as painless as possible. Impressed with the merits of
    their own case, people usually pay too little attention to ways of advancing their case by taking care of
    interests on the other side. To overcome the shortsightedness that results from looking too narrowly at
    one’s immediate self-interest, you will want to put yourself in their shoes. Without some option that
    appeals to them, there is likely to be no agreement at all.

    Whose shoes? Are you trying to influence a single negotiator, an absent boss, or some committee or
    other collective decision-making body? You cannot negotiate successfully with an abstraction like
    “Houston” or “the University of California.” Instead of trying to persuade “the insurance company” to
    make a decision, it is wiser to focus your efforts on getting one claims agent to make a recommendation.
    However complex the other side’s decisional process may seem, you will understand it better if you pick
    one person—probably the person with whom you are dealing—and see how the problem looks from his
    or her point of view.

    By focusing on one person you are not ignoring complexities. Rather, you are handling them by
    understanding how they impinge on the person with whom you are negotiating. You may come to
    appreciate your negotiating role in a new light, and see your job, for example, as strengthening that
    person’s hand or giving her arguments that she will need to persuade others to go along. One British
    ambassador described his job as “helping my opposite number get new instructions.” If you place
    yourself firmly in the shoes of your opposite number, you will understand his problem and what kind of
    options might solve it.

    What decision? In Chapter 2 we discussed how one can understand the other side’s interests by
    analyzing their currently perceived choice. Now you are trying to generate options that will so change
    their choice that they might then decide in a way satisfactory to you. Your task is to give them not a
    problem but an answer, to give them not a tough decision but an easy one. It is crucial in that process to
    focus your attention on the content of the decision itself. That decision is often impeded by uncertainty.

    Frequently you want as much as you can get, but you yourself do not know how much that is. You are
    likely to say, in effect, “Come up with something and I will tell you if it is enough.” That may seem
    reasonable to you, but when you look at it from the other’s point of view, you will understand the need to
    invent a more appealing request. For whatever they do or say, you are likely to consider that merely a

    floor—and ask for more. Requesting the other side to be “more forthcoming” will probably not produce a
    decision you want.

    Many negotiators are uncertain whether they are asking for words or for performance. Yet the
    distinction is critical. If it is performance you want, do not add something for “negotiating room.” If you
    want a horse to jump a fence, don’t raise the fence. If you want to sell a soft drink from a vending machine
    for $2.00, don’t mark the price at $2.50 to give yourself room to negotiate.

    Most of the time you will want a promise—an agreement. Take a pencil and paper in hand and try
    drafting a few possible agreements. It is never too early in a negotiation to start drafting as an aid to clear
    thinking. Prepare multiple versions, starting with the simplest possible. What are some terms that the other
    party could sign, terms that would be attractive to them as well as to you? Can you reduce the number of
    people whose approval would be required? Can you formulate an agreement that will be easy for them to
    implement? The other side will take into account difficulties in carrying out an agreement; you should too.

    It is usually easier, for example, to refrain from doing something not being done than to stop action
    already underway. And it is easier to cease doing something than to undertake an entirely new course of
    action. If workers want music on the job, it will be easier for the company to agree not to interfere for a
    few weeks with an experimental employee-run program than for the company to agree to run such a

    Because most people are strongly influenced by their notions of legitimacy, one effective way to
    develop solutions easy for the other side to accept is to shape them so that they will appear legitimate.
    The other side is more likely to accept a solution if it seems the right thing to do—right in terms of being
    fair, legal, honorable, and so forth.

    Few things facilitate a decision as much as precedent. Search for it. Look for a decision or statement
    that the other side may have made in a similar situation, and try to base a proposed agreement on it. This
    provides an objective standard for your request and makes it easier for them to go along. Recognizing
    their probable desire to be consistent, thinking about what they have already done or said will help you
    generate options acceptable to you that also take their point of view into account.

    Making threats is not enough. In addition to the content of the decision you would like them to make,
    you will want to consider from their point of view the consequences of following that decision. If you
    were they, what results would you most fear? What would you hope for?

    We often try to influence others by threats and warnings of what will happen if they do not decide as
    we would like. Offers are usually more effective. Concentrate both on making them aware of the
    consequences they can expect if they do decide as you wish and on improving those consequences from
    their point of view. How can you make your offers more credible? What are some specific things that they
    might like? Would they like to be given credit for having made the final proposal? Would they like to
    make the announcement? What can you invent that might be attractive to them but low in cost to yourself?

    To evaluate an option from the other side’s point of view, consider how they might be criticized if they
    adopted it. Write out a sentence or two illustrating what the other side’s most powerful critic might say
    about the decision you are thinking of asking for. Then write out a couple of sentences with which the
    other side might reply in defense. Such an exercise will help you appreciate the restraints within which
    the other side is negotiating. It should help you generate options that will adequately meet their interests
    so that they can make a decision that meets yours.

    A final test of an option is to write it out in the form of a “yesable proposition.” Try to draft a proposal
    to which their responding with the single word “yes” would be sufficient, realistic, and operational.
    When you can do so, you will have reduced the risk that your immediate self-interest has blinded you to
    the necessity of meeting concerns of the other side.

    In a complex situation, creative inventing is an absolute necessity. In any negotiation it may open doors
    and produce a range of potential agreements satisfactory to each side. Therefore, generate many options
    before selecting among them. Invent first; decide later. Look for shared interests and differing interests to
    dovetail. And seek to make their decision easy.

    5 Insist on Using Objective Criteria

    However well you understand the interests of the other side, however ingeniously you invent ways of
    reconciling interests, however highly you value an ongoing relationship, you will almost always face the
    harsh reality of interests that conflict. No talk of “win-win” strategies can conceal that fact. You want the
    rent to be lower; the landlord wants it to be higher. You want the goods delivered tomorrow; the supplier
    would rather deliver them next week. You definitely prefer the large office with the view; so does your
    partner. Such differences cannot be swept under the rug.

    Deciding on the basis of will is costly
    Typically, negotiators try to resolve such conflicts by positional bargaining—in other words, by talking
    about what they are willing and unwilling to accept. One negotiator may demand substantive concessions
    simply because he insists upon them: “The price is $5,000 and that’s that.” Another may make a generous
    offer, hoping to gain approval or friendship. Whether the situation becomes a contest over who can be the
    most stubborn or a contest over who can be the most generous, this negotiating process focuses on what
    each side is willing to agree to. The outcome results from the interaction of two human wills—almost as
    if the negotiators were living on a desert island, with no history, no customs, and no moral standards.

    As discussed in Chapter 1, trying to reconcile differences on the basis of will has serious costs. No
    negotiation is likely to be efficient or amicable if you pit your will against theirs, and either you have to
    back down or they do. And whether you are choosing a place to eat, organizing a business, or negotiating
    custody of a child, you are unlikely to reach a wise agreement as judged by any objective standard if you
    take no such standard into account.

    If trying to settle differences of interest on the basis of will has such high costs, the solution is to
    negotiate on some basis independent of the will of either side—that is, on the basis of objective criteria.

    The case for using objective criteria
    Suppose you have entered into a fixed-price construction contract for your house that calls for reinforced
    concrete foundations but fails to specify how deep they should be. The contractor suggests two feet. You
    think five feet is closer to the usual depth for your type of house.

    Now suppose the contractor says: “I went along with you on steel girders for the roof. It’s your turn to
    go along with me on shallower foundations.” No owner in his right mind would yield. Rather than horse-
    trade, you would insist on deciding the issue in terms of objective safety standards. “Look, maybe I’m
    wrong. Maybe two feet is enough. What I want are foundations strong and deep enough to hold up the
    building safely. Does the government have standard specifications for these soil conditions? How deep

    are the foundations of other buildings in this area? What is the earthquake risk here? Where do you
    suggest we look for standards to resolve this question?”

    It is no easier to build a good contract than it is to build strong foundations. If relying on objective
    standards applies so clearly to a negotiation between the house owner and a contractor, why not to
    business deals, collective bargaining, legal settlements, and international negotiations? Why not insist that
    a negotiated price, for example, be based on some standard such as market value, replacement cost,
    depreciated book value, or competitive prices, instead of whatever the seller demands?

    In short, the approach is to commit yourself to reaching a solution based on principle, not pressure.
    Concentrate on the merits of the problem, not the mettle of the parties. Be open to reason, but closed to

    Principled negotiation produces wise agreements amicably and efficiently. The more you bring
    standards of fairness, efficiency, or scientific merit to bear on your particular problem, the more likely
    you are to produce a final package that is wise and fair. The more you and the other side refer to
    precedent and community practice, the greater your chance of benefiting from past experience. And an
    agreement consistent with precedent is less vulnerable to attack. If a lease contains standard terms or if a
    sales contract conforms to practice in the industry, there is less risk that either negotiator will feel that he
    was harshly treated or will later try to repudiate the agreement.

    A constant battle for dominance threatens a relationship; principled negotiation protects it. It is far
    easier to deal with people when both of you are discussing objective standards for settling a problem
    instead of trying to force each other to back down.

    Approaching agreement through discussion of objective criteria also reduces the number of
    commitments that each side must make and then unmake as they move toward agreement. In positional
    bargaining, negotiators spend much of the time defending their position and attacking the other side’s.
    People using objective criteria tend to use time more efficiently talking about possible standards and

    Independent standards are even more important to efficiency when more parties are involved. In such
    cases positional bargaining is difficult at best. It requires coalitions among parties; and the more parties
    who have agreed on a position, the more difficult it becomes to change that position. Similarly, if each
    negotiator has a constituency or has to clear a position with a higher authority, the task of adopting
    positions and then changing them becomes time-consuming and difficult.

    An episode during the Law of the Sea negotiations illustrates the merits of using objective criteria. At
    one point, India, representing the Third World bloc, proposed an initial fee for companies mining in the
    deep seabed of $60 million per site. The United States rejected the proposal, suggesting there be no initial
    fee. Both sides dug in; the matter became a contest of will.

    Then someone discovered that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) had developed a
    model for the economics of deep-seabed mining. This model, gradually accepted by the parties as
    objective, provided a way of evaluating the impact of any fee proposal on the economics of mining. When
    the Indian representative asked about the effect of his proposal, he was shown how the tremendous fee he
    proposed—payable five years before the mine would generate any revenue—would make it virtually
    impossible for a company to mine. Impressed, he announced that he would reconsider his position. On the
    other side, the MIT model helped educate the American representatives, whose information on the subject
    had been mostly limited to that provided by the mining companies. The model indicated that some initial
    fee was economically feasible. As a result, the United States also changed its position.

    No one backed down; no one appeared weak—just reasonable. After a lengthy negotiation, the parties
    reached a tentative agreement that was mutually satisfactory.

    The MIT model increased the chance of agreement and decreased costly posturing. It led to a better
    solution, one that would both attract companies to do mining and generate considerable revenue for the
    nations of the world. The existence of an objective model able to forecast the consequences of any
    proposal helped convince the parties that the tentative agreement they reached was fair. This in turn
    strengthened relationships among the negotiators and made it more likely an agreement would endure.[2]

    Developing objective criteria
    Carrying on a principled negotiation involves two questions: How do you develop objective criteria, and
    how do you use them in negotiating?

    Whatever method of negotiation you use, you will do better if you prepare in advance. This certainly
    holds true of principled negotiation. So develop some alternative standards beforehand and think through
    their application to your case.

    Fair standards. You will usually find more than one objective criterion available as a basis for
    agreement. Suppose, for example, your car is demolished and you file a claim with an insurance company.
    In your discussion with the adjuster, you might take into account such measures of the car’s value as (1)
    the original cost of the car less depreciation; (2) what the car could have been sold for; (3) the standard
    “blue book” value for a car of that year and model; (4) what it would cost to replace that car with a
    comparable one; and (5) what a court might award as the value of the car.

    In other cases, depending on the issue, you may wish to propose that an agreement be based upon:

    Market value What a court would decide

    Precedent Moral standards

    Scientific judgment Equal treatment

    Professional standards Tradition

    Efficiency Reciprocity

    Costs Etc.

    At a minimum, objective criteria need to be independent of each side’s will. Ideally, to assure a wise
    agreement, objective criteria should be not only independent of will but also both legitimate and
    practical. In a boundary dispute, for example, you may find it easier to agree on a physically salient
    feature such as a river than on a line three yards to the east of the riverbank.

    Objective criteria should apply, at least in theory, to both sides. You can thus use the test of reciprocal
    application to tell you whether a proposed criterion is fair and independent of either party’s will. If a real
    estate agency selling you a house offers a standard form contract, you would be wise to ask if that is the
    same standard form they use when they buy a house. In the international arena, the principle of self-
    determination is notorious for the number of peoples who insist on it as a fundamental right but deny its
    applicability to those on the other side. Consider the Middle East, Kashmir, or Cyprus as just three

    Fair procedures. To produce an outcome independent of will, you can use either fair standards for the
    substantive question or fair procedures for resolving the conflicting interests. Consider, for example, the
    age-old way to divide a piece of cake between two children: one cuts and the other chooses. Neither can
    complain about an unfair division.

    This simple procedure was used in the Law of the Sea negotiations, one of the most complex
    negotiations ever undertaken. At one point, the issue of how to allocate mining sites in the deep seabed

    deadlocked the negotiation. Under the terms of the draft agreement, half the sites were to be mined by
    private companies, the other half by the Enterprise, a mining organization to be owned by the United
    Nations. Since the private mining companies from the rich nations had the technology and the expertise to
    choose the best sites, the poorer nations feared the less knowledgeable Enterprise would receive a bad

    The solution devised was to agree that a private company seeking to mine the seabed would present
    the Enterprise with two proposed mining sites. The Enterprise would pick one site for itself and grant the
    company a license to mine the other. Since the company would not know which site it would get, it would
    have an incentive to make both sites as promising as possible. This simple procedure thus harnessed the
    company’s superior expertise for mutual gain.

    A variation on the procedure of “one cuts, the other chooses” is for the parties to negotiate what they
    think is a fair arrangement before they go on to decide their respective roles in it. In a divorce negotiation,
    for example, before deciding which parent will get custody of the children, the parents might agree on the
    visiting rights (and responsibilities) of the other parent. This gives both an incentive to agree on visitation
    rights each will think fair.

    As you consider procedural solutions, look at other basic means of settling differences: taking turns,
    drawing lots, letting someone else decide, and so on.

    Frequently, taking turns presents the best way for heirs to divide a large number of heirlooms left to
    them collectively. Afterwards, they can do some trading if they want. Or they can make the selection
    tentative so they see how it comes out before committing themselves to accept it. Drawing lots, flipping a
    coin, and other forms of chance have an inherent fairness. The results may be unequal, but each side had
    an equal opportunity.

    Letting someone else play a key role in a joint decision is a well-established procedure with almost
    infinite variations. The parties can agree to submit a particular question to an expert for advice or
    decision. They can ask a mediator to help them reach a decision. Or they can submit the matter to an
    arbitrator for an authoritative and binding decision.

    Professional baseball, for example, uses “last-best-offer arbitration” to settle player salary disputes.
    The arbitrator must choose between the last offer made by one side and the last offer made by the other.
    The theory is that this procedure puts pressure on the parties to make their proposals more reasonable. In
    baseball, and in states where this form of arbitration is compulsory for certain public employee disputes,
    it does seem to produce more settlements than in comparable circumstances where there is a commitment
    to conventional arbitration; those parties who don’t settle, however, sometimes give the arbitrator an
    unpleasant choice between two extreme offers.

    Negotiating with objective criteria
    Having identified some objective criteria and procedures, how do you go about discussing them with the
    other side?

    There are three basic points to remember:

    1. Frame each issue as a joint search for objective criteria.
    2. Reason and be open to reason as to which standards are most appropriate and how they should be

    3. Never yield to pressure, only to principle.

    In short, focus on objective criteria firmly but flexibly.
    Frame each issue as a joint search for objective criteria. If you are negotiating to buy a house, you

    might start off by saying: “Look, you want a high price and I want a low one. Let’s figure out what a fair
    price would be. What objective standards might be most relevant?” You and the other side may have
    conflicting interests, but the two of you now have a shared goal: to determine a fair price. You might begin
    by suggesting one or more criteria yourself—the cost of the house adjusted for depreciation and inflation,
    recent sale prices of similar houses in the neighborhood, or an independent appraisal—and then invite the
    seller’s suggestions.

    Ask “What’s your theory?” If the seller starts by giving you a position, such as “The price is
    $255,000,” ask for the theory behind that price: “How did you arrive at that figure?” Treat the problem as
    though the seller too is looking for a fair price based on objective criteria.

    Agree first on principles. Before even considering possible terms, you may want to agree on the
    standard or standards to apply.

    Each standard the other side proposes becomes a lever you can then use to persuade them. Your case
    will have more impact if it is presented in terms of their criteria, and they will find it difficult to resist
    applying their criteria to the problem. “You say Mr. Jones sold the house next door for $260,000. Your
    theory is that this house should be sold for what comparable houses in the neighborhood are going for, am
    I right? In that case, let’s look at what the house on the corner of Ellsworth and Oxford and the one at
    Broadway and Dana were sold for.” What makes conceding particularly difficult is having to accept
    someone else’s proposal. If they suggested the standard, their deferring to it is not an act of weakness but
    an act of strength, of carrying out their word.

    Reason and be open to reason. What makes the negotiation a joint search is that, however much you
    may have prepared various objective criteria, you come to the table with an open mind. In most
    negotiations, people use precedent and other objective standards simply as arguments in support of a
    position. A police union might, for example, insist upon a raise of a certain amount and then justify their
    position with arguments about what police in other cities make. This use of standards usually only digs
    people even deeper into their position.

    Going one step further, some people begin by announcing that their position is an issue of principle
    and refuse even to consider the other side’s case. “It’s a matter of principle” becomes a battle cry in a
    holy war over ideology. Practical differences escalate into principled ones, further locking in the
    negotiators rather than freeing them.

    This is emphatically not what is meant by principled negotiation. Insisting that an agreement be based
    on objective criteria does not mean insisting that it be based solely on the criterion you advance. One
    standard of legitimacy does not preclude the existence of others. What the other side believes to be fair
    may not be what you believe to be fair. You should behave like a judge; although you may be predisposed
    to one side (in this case, your own), you should be willing to respond to reasons for applying another
    standard or for applying a standard differently. When each party is advancing a different standard, look
    for an objective basis for deciding between them, such as which standard has been used by the parties in
    the past or which standard is more widely applied. Just as the substantive issue itself should not be settled
    on the basis of will, neither should the question of which standard applies.

    In a given case, there may be two standards (such as market value and depreciated cost) that produce
    different results but that both parties agree seem equally legitimate. In that case, splitting the difference or
    otherwise compromising between the results suggested by the two objective standards is perfectly
    legitimate. The outcome is still independent of the will of the parties.

    If, however, after a thorough discussion of the merits of an issue you still cannot accept their proposed

    criteria as the most appropriate, you might suggest putting them to a test. Agree on someone you both
    regard as fair and give him or her a list of the proposed criteria. Ask the person to decide which are the
    fairest or most appropriate for your situation. Since objective criteria are supposed to be legitimate and
    because legitimacy implies acceptance by a great many people, this is a fair thing to ask. You are not
    asking the third party to settle your substantive dispute—just to give you advice on what standard to use in
    settling it.

    The difference between seeking agreement on the appropriate principles for deciding a matter and
    using principles simply as arguments to support positions is sometimes subtle, but always significant. A
    principled negotiator is open to reasoned persuasion on the merits; a positional bargainer is not. It is the
    combination of openness to reason with insistence on a solution based on objective criteria that makes
    principled negotiation so persuasive and so effective at getting the other side to play.

    Never yield to pressure. Consider once again the example of negotiating with the contractor. What if
    he offers to hire your brother-in-law on the condition that you give in on the depth of the foundations? You
    would probably answer, “A job for my brother-in-law has nothing to do with whether the house will be
    safely supported on a foundation of that depth.” What if the contractor then threatens to charge you a
    higher price? You would answer the same way: “We’ll settle that question on the merits too. Let’s see
    what other contractors charge for this kind of work,” or “Bring me your cost figures and we’ll work out a
    fair profit margin.” If the contractor replies, “Come on, you trust me, don’t you?” you would respond:
    “Trust is an entirely separate matter. The issue is how deep the foundations have to be to make the house

    Pressure can take many forms: a bribe, a threat, a manipulative appeal to trust, or a simple refusal to
    budge. In all these cases, the principled response is the same: invite them to state their reasoning, suggest
    objective criteria you think apply, and refuse to budge except on this basis. Never yield to pressure, only
    to principle.

    Who will prevail? In any given case it is impossible to say, but in general you will have an edge. For
    in addition to your willpower, you also have the power of legitimacy and the persuasiveness of remaining
    open to reason. It will be easier for you to resist making an arbitrary concession than it will be for them to
    resist advancing some objective standards. A refusal to yield except in response to sound reasons is an
    easier position to defend—publicly and privately—than is a refusal to yield combined with a refusal to
    advance sound reasons.

    At the least, you will usually prevail on the question of process; you can usually shift the process from
    positional bargaining to a search for objective criteria. In this sense principled negotiation is a dominant
    strategy over positional bargaining. One who insists that negotiation be based on the merits can bring
    others around to playing that game, since that becomes the only way to advance their substantive interests.

    On substance, too, you are likely to do well. Particularly for those who might otherwise be
    browbeaten by a positional bargainer, principled negotiation allows you to hold your own and still be
    fair. Principle serves as your hardhearted partner who will not let you yield to pressure. It is a form of
    “right makes might.”

    If the other side truly will not budge and will not advance a persuasive basis for their position, then
    there is no further negotiation. You now have a choice like the one you face when you walk into a store
    that has a fixed, nonnegotiable price on what you want to buy. You can take it or leave it. Before leaving it
    you should see if you have overlooked some objective standard that makes their offer a fair one. If you
    find such a standard and if you would rather reach agreement on that basis than have no agreement, do so.
    The availability of that relevant standard avoids the cost of giving in to an arbitrary position.

    If there is no give in their position and you find no principled basis for accepting it, you should assess

    what you might gain by accepting their unjustified position rather than going to your best alternative. You
    should weigh that substantive benefit against the benefit to your reputation as a principled negotiator that
    could come from walking away.

    Shifting discussion in a negotiation from the question of what the other side is willing to do to the
    question of how the matter ought to be decided does not end argument, nor does it guarantee a favorable
    result. It does, however, provide a strategy you can vigorously pursue without the high costs of positional

    “It’s company policy”

    Let’s look at a real case where one party used positional bargaining and the other principled negotiation.
    Tom, one of our colleagues, had his parked car totally destroyed by a dump truck. The car was covered by
    insurance, but the exact amount Tom could recover remained for him to work out with the insurance

    Insurance Adjuster Tom

    We have studied your case and we have
    decided the policy applies. That
    means you’re entitled to a settlement
    of $13,600. I see. How did you reach that figure?

    That’s how much we decided the car was

    I understand, but what standard did you use to determine that amount? Do you know where I can
    buy a comparable car for that much?

    How much are you asking for? Whatever I’m entitled to under the policy. I found a secondhand car just about like it for $17,700.
    Adding the sales and excise tax, it would come to about $19,000.

    $19,000! That’s too much! I’m not asking for $19,000 or $18,000 or $20,000, but for fair compensation. Do you agree that it’s
    only fair I get enough to replace the car?

    OK, I’ll offer you $15,000. That’s the
    highest I can go. Company policy. How does the company figure that?

    Look, $15,000 is all you’ll get. Take it or
    leave it.

    $15,000 may be fair. I don’t know. I certainly understand your position if you’re bound by company
    policy. But unless you can state objectively why that amount is what I’m entitled to, I think I’ll do
    better in court. Why don’t we study the matter and talk again? Is Wednesday at eleven a good
    time to talk?

    . . .

    OK, Mr. Griffith, I’ve got an ad here in
    today’s paper offering a car exactly the
    same make, model, and year as yours
    for $14,800. I see. What does it say about the mileage?

    49,000. Why? Because mine only had 25,000 miles. How many dollars does that increase the worth in your book?

    Let me see . . . $1,650. Assuming the $14,800 as one possible base, that brings the figure to $16,450. Does the ad specify
    the technology package?

    No. How much extra for that in your book?

    $1,100. How about an autodimming mirror?

    . . .

    A half hour later Tom walked out with a check for $18,024.

    III YES, BUT . . .

    6. What If They Are More Powerful?

    (Develop Your BATNA—Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement)

    7. What If They Won’t Play?

    (Use Negotiation Jujitsu)

    8. What If They Use Dirty Tricks?
    (Taming the Hard Bargainer)

    6 What If They Are More Powerful?
    (Develop Your BATNA—Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement)

    If what use is talking about interests, options, and standards if the other side has a stronger bargaining
    position? What do you do if the other side is richer or better connected, or if they have a larger staff or
    more powerful weapons?

    No method can guarantee success if all the leverage lies on the other side. No book on gardening can
    teach you to grow lilies in a desert or a cactus in a swamp. If you enter an antique store to buy a sterling
    silver George IV tea set worth thousands of dollars and all you have is one hundred-dollar bill, you
    should not expect skillful negotiation to overcome the difference. In any negotiation there exist realities
    that are hard to change. In response to power, the most any method of negotiation can do is to meet two
    objectives: first, to protect you against making an agreement you should reject and second, to help you
    make the most of the assets you do have so that any agreement you reach will satisfy your interests as well
    as possible. Let’s take each objective in turn.

    Protecting yourself
    When you are trying to catch an airplane your goal may seem tremendously important; looking back on it,
    you see you could have caught the next plane. Negotiation will often present you with a similar situation.
    You will worry, for instance, about failing to reach agreement on an important business deal in which you
    have invested a great deal of yourself. Under these conditions, a major danger is that you will be too
    accommodating to the views of the other side—too quick to go along. The siren song of “Let’s all agree
    and put an end to this” becomes persuasive. You may end up with a deal you should have rejected.

    The costs of using a bottom line. Negotiators commonly try to protect themselves against such an
    outcome by establishing in advance the worst acceptable outcome—their “bottom line.” If you are buying,
    a bottom line is the highest price you would pay. If you are selling, a bottom line is the lowest amount you
    would accept. You and your spouse might, for example, ask $300,000 for your house and agree between
    yourselves to accept no offer below $260,000.

    Having a bottom line makes it easier to resist pressure and temptations of the moment. In the house
    example, it might be impossible for a buyer to pay more than $244,000, and everyone involved may know
    that you bought the house not so long ago for only $235,000. In this situation, where you have the power to
    produce agreement and the buyer does not, the brokers and anyone else in the room may turn to you. Your

    predetermined bottom line may save you from making a decision you would later regret.
    If there is more than one person on your side, jointly adopting a bottom line helps ensure that no one

    will indicate to the other side that you might settle for less. It limits the authority of a lawyer, broker, or
    other agent. “Get the best price you can, but you are not authorized to sell for less than $260,000,” you
    might say. If your side is a loose coalition of newspaper unions negotiating with an association of
    publishers, agreement on a bottom line reduces the risk that one union will be split off by offers from the
    other side.

    But the protection afforded by adopting a bottom line involves high costs. It limits your ability to
    benefit from what you learn during negotiation. By definition, a bottom line is a position that is not to be
    changed. To that extent you have shut your ears, deciding in advance that nothing the other party says
    could cause you to raise or lower that bottom line.

    A bottom line also inhibits imagination. It reduces the incentive to invent a tailor-made solution that
    would reconcile differing interests in a way more advantageous for both you and them. Almost every
    negotiation involves more than one variable. Rather than simply selling your place for $260,000, you
    might serve your interests better by settling for $235,000 with a first refusal on resale, a delayed closing,
    the right to use the barn for storage for two years, and an option to buy back two acres of the pasture. If
    you insist on a bottom line, you are not likely to explore an imaginative solution like this. A bottom line—
    by its very nature rigid—is almost certain to be too rigid.

    Moreover, a bottom line is likely to be set too high. Suppose you are sitting around the breakfast table
    with your family trying to decide the lowest price you should accept for your house. One family member
    suggests $200,000. Another replies, “We should get at least $240,000.” A third chimes in, “$240,000 for
    our house? That would be a steal. It’s worth at least $300,000.” Who sitting at the table will object,
    knowing they will benefit from a higher price? Once decided upon, such a bottom line may be hard to
    change and may prevent your selling the house when you should. Under other circumstances a bottom line
    may be too low; rather than selling at such a figure, you would have been better off renting.

    In short, while adopting a bottom line may protect you from accepting a very bad agreement, it may
    keep you both from inventing and from agreeing to a solution it would be wise to accept. An arbitrarily
    selected figure is no measure of what you should accept.

    Is there an alternative to the bottom line? Is there a measure for agreements that will protect you
    against both accepting an agreement you should reject and rejecting an agreement you should accept?
    There is.

    Know your BATNA. When a family is deciding on the minimum price for their house, the right
    question for them to ask is not what they “ought” to be able to get, but what they will do if by a certain
    time they have not sold the house. Will they keep it on the market indefinitely? Will they rent it, tear it
    down, turn the land into a parking lot, let someone else live in it rent-free on condition they paint it, or
    what? Which of those alternatives is most attractive, all things considered? And how does that alternative
    compare with the best offer received for the house? It may be that one of those alternatives is more
    attractive than selling the house for $260,000. On the other hand, selling the house for as little as
    $224,000 may be better than holding on to it indefinitely. It is most unlikely that any arbitrarily selected
    bottom line truly reflects the family’s interests.

    The reason you negotiate is to produce something better than the results you can obtain without
    negotiating. What are those results? What is that alternative? What is your BATNA—your Best
    Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement? That is the standard against which any proposed agreement
    should be measured. That is the only standard that can protect you both from accepting terms that are too
    unfavorable and from rejecting terms it would be in your interest to accept.

    Your BATNA not only is a better measure but also has the advantage of being flexible enough to
    permit the exploration of imaginative solutions. Instead of ruling out any solution that does not meet your
    bottom line, you can compare a proposal with your BATNA to see whether it better satisfies your

    The insecurity of an unknown BATNA. If you have not thought carefully about what you will do if
    you fail to reach an agreement, you are negotiating with your eyes closed. You may, for instance, be too
    optimistic and assume that you have many other choices: other houses for sale, other buyers for your
    secondhand car, other plumbers, other jobs available, other wholesalers, and so on. Even when your
    alternative is fixed, you may be taking too rosy a view of the consequences of not reaching agreement.
    You may not be appreciating the full agony of a lawsuit, a contested divorce, a strike, an arms race, or a

    One frequent mistake is psychologically to see your alternatives in the aggregate. You may be telling
    yourself that if you do not reach agreement on a salary for this job, you could always go to California, or
    go south, or go back to school, or write, or work on a farm, or live in Paris, or do something else. In your
    mind you are likely to find the sum of these alternatives more attractive than working for a specific salary
    in a particular job. The difficulty is that you cannot have the sum total of all those other alternatives; if you
    fail to reach agreement, you will have to choose just one.

    In most circumstances, however, the greater danger is that you are too committed to reaching
    agreement. Not having developed any alternative to a negotiated solution, you are unduly pessimistic
    about what would happen if negotiations broke off.

    As valuable as knowing your BATNA may be, you may hesitate to explore alternatives. You hope this
    buyer or the next will make you an attractive offer for the house. You may avoid facing the question of
    what you will do if no agreement is reached. You may think to yourself, “Let’s negotiate first and see what
    happens. If things don’t work out, then I’ll figure out what to do.” But having at least a tentative answer to
    the question is absolutely essential if you are to conduct your negotiations wisely. Whether you should or
    should not agree on something in a negotiation depends entirely upon the attractiveness to you of the best
    available alternative.

    Formulate a trip wire. Although your BATNA is the true measure by which you should judge any
    proposed agreement, you may want another test as well. To give you early warning that the content of a
    possible agreement is beginning to run the risk of being too unattractive, it is useful to identify one far
    from perfect agreement that is better than your BATNA. Before accepting any agreement worse than this
    trip-wire package, you should take a break and reexamine the situation. Like a bottom line, a trip wire can
    limit the authority of an agent. “Don’t sell for less than $258,000, the price I paid plus interest, until
    you’ve talked to me.”

    A trip wire should provide you with some margin in reserve. If after reaching the standard reflected in
    your trip wire you decide to call in a mediator, you have left him with something on your side to work
    with. You still have some room to move.

    Making the most of your assets
    Protecting yourself against a bad agreement is one thing. Making the most of the assets you have to
    produce a good agreement is another. How do you do this? Again the answer lies in your BATNA.

    The better your BATNA, the greater your power. People think of negotiating power as being
    determined by resources like wealth, political connections, physical strength, friends, and military might.
    In fact, the relative negotiating power of two parties depends primarily upon how attractive to each is the

    option of not reaching agreement.
    Consider a wealthy tourist who wants to buy a small brass pot for a modest price from a vendor at the

    Mumbai railroad station. The vendor may be poor, but she is likely to know the market. If she does not
    sell the pot to this tourist, she can sell it to another. From her experience she can estimate when and for
    how much she could sell it to someone else. The tourist may be wealthy and “powerful,” but in this
    negotiation he will be weak indeed unless he knows approximately how much it would cost and how
    difficult it would be to find a comparable pot elsewhere. He is almost certain either to miss his chance to
    buy such a pot or to pay too high a price. The tourist’s wealth in no way strengthens his negotiating power.
    If apparent, it weakens his ability to buy the pot at a low price. To convert that wealth into negotiating
    power, the tourist would have to apply it to learn about the price at which he could buy an equally or
    more attractive brass pot somewhere else.

    Think for a moment about how you would feel walking into a job interview with no other job offers—
    only some uncertain leads. Think how the talk about salary would go. Now contrast that with how you
    would feel walking in with two other job offers. How would that salary negotiation proceed? The
    difference is power.

    What is true for negotiations between individuals is equally true for negotiations between
    organizations. The relative negotiating power of a large industry and a small town trying to raise taxes on
    a factory is determined not by the relative size of their respective budgets, or their political clout, but by
    each side’s best alternative. In one case, a small town negotiated a company with a factory just outside the
    town limits from a “goodwill” payment of $300,000 a year to one of $2,300,000 a year. How?

    The town knew exactly what it would do if no agreement was reached: It would expand the town
    limits to include the factory and then tax the factory the full residential rate of some $2,500,000 a year.
    The corporation had committed itself to keeping the factory; it had developed no alternative to reaching
    agreement. At first glance the corporation seemed to have a great deal of power. It provided most of the
    jobs in the town, which was suffering economically; a factory shutdown or relocation would devastate the
    town. And the taxes the corporation was already paying helped provide the salaries of the very town
    leaders who were demanding more. Yet all of these assets, because they were not converted into a good
    BATNA, proved of little use. Having an attractive BATNA, the small town had more ability to affect the
    outcome of the negotiation than did one of the world’s largest corporations.

    Develop your BATNA. Vigorous exploration of what you will do if you do not reach agreement can
    greatly strengthen your hand. Attractive alternatives are not just sitting there waiting for you; you usually
    have to develop them. Generating possible BATNAs requires three distinct operations: (1) inventing a list
    of actions you might conceivably take if no agreement is reached; (2) improving some of the more
    promising ideas and converting them into practical alternatives; and (3) selecting, tentatively, the one
    alternative that seems best.

    The first operation is inventing. If, by the end of the month, Company X does not make you a
    satisfactory job offer, what are some things you might do? Take a job with Company Y? Look in another
    city? Start a business on your own? What else? For a labor union, alternatives to a negotiated agreement
    would presumably include calling a strike, working without a contract, giving a sixty-day notice of a
    strike, asking for a mediator, and calling on union members to “work to rule.”

    The second stage is to improve the best of your ideas and turn the most promising into real
    alternatives. If you are thinking about working in Chicago, try to turn that idea into at least one job offer
    there. With a Chicago job offer in hand (or even having discovered that you are unable to produce one)
    you are much better prepared to assess the merits of a New York offer. While a labor union is still
    negotiating, it should convert the ideas of calling in a mediator and of striking into drafts of specific

    operational decisions ready for execution. The union might, for instance, take a vote of its membership to
    authorize a strike if a settlement is not achieved by the time the contract expires.

    The final step in developing a BATNA is selecting the best among the alternatives. If you do not reach
    agreement in the negotiations, which of your realistic alternatives do you now plan to pursue?

    Having gone through this effort, you now have a BATNA. Judge every offer against it. The better your
    BATNA, the greater your ability to improve the terms of any negotiated agreement. Knowing what you are
    going to do if the negotiation does not lead to agreement will give you additional confidence in the
    negotiating process. It is easier to break off negotiations if you know where you’re going. The greater
    your willingness to break off negotiations, the more forcefully you can present your interests and the basis
    on which you believe an agreement should be reached.

    The desirability of disclosing your BATNA to the other side depends upon your assessment of the
    other side’s thinking. If your BATNA is extremely attractive—if you have another customer waiting in the
    next room—it is in your interest to let the other side know. If they think you lack a good alternative when
    in fact you have one, then you should almost certainly let them know. However, if your best alternative to
    a negotiated agreement is worse for you than they think, disclosing it will weaken rather than strengthen
    your hand.

    Consider the other side’s BATNA. You should also think about the alternatives to a negotiated
    agreement available to the other side. The more you can learn of their alternatives, the better prepared you
    are for negotiation. Knowing their alternatives, you can realistically estimate what you can expect from
    the negotiation.

    They may be unduly optimistic about what they can do if no agreement is reached. Perhaps they have a
    vague notion that they have a great many alternatives and are under the influence of their cumulative total.
    If they appear to overestimate their BATNA, you will want to help them think through whether their
    expectations are realistic.

    Their BATNA may be better for them than any fair solution you can imagine. Suppose you are a
    community group concerned about the potential noxious gases to be emitted by a power plant now under
    construction. The power company’s BATNA is either to ignore your protests altogether or to keep you
    talking while they finish building the plant. To get them to take your concerns seriously, you may have to
    file a lawsuit seeking to have their construction permit revoked. In other words, if their BATNA is so
    good they don’t see any need to negotiate on the merits, consider what you can do to change it.

    If both sides have attractive BATNAs, the best outcome of the negotiation—for both parties—may
    well be not to reach agreement. In such cases a successful negotiation is one in which you and they
    amicably and efficiently discover that the best way to advance your respective interests is for each of you
    to look elsewhere and not to try further to reach agreement.

    When the other side is powerful

    If the other side has big guns, you do not want to turn a negotiation into a gunfight. The stronger they
    appear in terms of physical or economic power, the more you benefit by negotiating on the merits. To the
    extent that they have muscle and you have principle, the larger a role you can establish for principle the
    better off you are.

    Having a good BATNA can help you negotiate on the merits. You can convert such resources as you
    have into effective negotiating power by developing and improving your BATNA. Apply knowledge,
    time, money, people, connections, and wits into devising the best solution for you independent of the other
    side’s assent. The more easily and happily you can walk away from a negotiation, the greater your

    capacity to affect its outcome.
    Developing your BATNA thus not only enables you to determine what is a minimally acceptable

    agreement, it will probably raise that minimum. Developing your BATNA is perhaps the most effective
    course of action you can take in dealing with a seemingly more powerful negotiator.

    7 What If They Won’t Play?
    (Use Negotiation Jujitsu)

    Talking about interests, options, and standards may be a wise, efficient, and amicable game, but what if
    the other side won’t play? While you try to discuss interests, they may state their position in unequivocal
    terms. You may be concerned with developing possible agreements to maximize the gains of both parties.
    They may be attacking your proposals, concerned only with maximizing their own gains. You may attack
    the problem on its merits; they may attack you. What can you do to turn them away from positions and
    toward the merits?

    There are three basic approaches for focusing their attention on the merits. The first centers on what
    you can do. You yourself can concentrate on the merits, rather than on positions. This method, the subject
    of this book, is contagious; it holds open the prospect of success to those who will talk about interests,
    options, and criteria. In effect, you can change the game simply by starting to play a new one.

    If this doesn’t work and they continue to use positional bargaining, you can resort to a second strategy
    that focuses on what they may do. It counters the basic moves of positional bargaining in ways that direct
    their attention to the merits. This strategy we call negotiation jujitsu.

    The third approach focuses on what a third party can do. If neither principled negotiation nor
    negotiation jujitsu gets them to play, consider including a third party trained to focus the discussion on
    interests, options, and criteria. Perhaps the most effective tool a third party can use in such an effort is the
    one-text mediation procedure.

    The first approach—principled negotiation—has already been discussed. Negotiation jujitsu and the
    one-text procedure are explained in this chapter. The chapter ends with a dialogue based on an actual
    landlord-tenant negotiation that illustrates in detail how you might persuade an unwilling party to play,
    using a combination of principled negotiation and negotiation jujitsu.

    Negotiation jujitsu
    If the other side announces a firm position, you may be tempted to criticize and reject it. If they criticize
    your proposal, you may be tempted to defend it and dig yourself in. If they attack you, you may be tempted
    to defend yourself and counterattack. In short, if they push you hard, you will tend to push back.

    Yet if you do, you will end up playing the positional bargaining game. Rejecting their position only
    locks them in. Defending your proposal only locks you in. And defending yourself sidetracks the

    negotiation into a clash of personalities. You will find yourself in a vicious cycle of attack and defense,
    and you will waste a lot of time and energy in useless pushing and pulling.

    If pushing back does not work, what does? How can you prevent the cycle of action and reaction? Do
    not push back. When they assert their positions, do not reject them. When they attack your ideas, don’t
    defend them. When they attack you, don’t counterattack. Break the vicious cycle by refusing to react.
    Instead of pushing back, sidestep their attack and deflect it against the problem. As in the Oriental martial
    arts of judo and jujitsu, avoid pitting your strength against theirs directly; instead, use your skill to step
    aside and turn their strength to your ends. Rather than resisting their force, channel it into exploring
    interests, inventing options for mutual gain, and searching for independent standards.

    How does “negotiation jujitsu” work in practice? How do you sidestep their attack and deflect it
    against the problem?

    Typically their “attack” will consist of three maneuvers: asserting their position forcefully, attacking
    your ideas, and attacking you. Let’s consider how a principled negotiator can deal with each of these.

    Don’t attack their position, look behind it. When the other side sets forth their position, neither
    reject it nor accept it. Treat it as one possible option. Look for the interests behind it, seek out the
    principles that it reflects, and think about ways to improve it.

    Let’s say you represent an association of teachers striking for higher pay and for seniority as the only
    criterion in layoffs. The school board has proposed a $2,000 raise across the board plus retention of the
    right to decide unilaterally who gets laid off. Mine their position for the interests that lie below the
    surface. “What exactly are the budget trade-offs involved in raising the salary schedule more than
    $2,000?” “Why do you feel a need to maintain complete control over layoffs?”

    Assume every position they take is a genuine attempt to address the basic concerns of each side; ask
    them how they think it addresses the problem at hand. Treat their position as one option and objectively
    examine the extent to which it meets the interests of each party, or might be improved to do so. “How will
    a $2,000 across-the-board increase keep our schools’ salaries competitive with others in the area and
    thus assure that the students will have high-quality teachers?” “How could you satisfy the teachers that
    your evaluation procedure for layoffs would be fair? We believe that you personally would be fair, but
    what would happen if you left? How can we leave our livelihoods and our families’ wellbeing up to a
    potentially arbitrary decision?”

    Seek out and discuss the principles underlying the other side’s positions. “What is the theory that
    makes $2,000 a fair salary increase? Is it based on what other schools pay or what others with
    comparable qualifications make?” “Do you believe that the town’s least experienced teachers should be
    laid off first or the most experienced—who, of course, have higher salaries?”

    To direct their attention toward improving the options on the table, discuss with them hypothetically
    what would happen if one of their positions was accepted. In 1970, an American lawyer had a chance to
    interview President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt on the subject of the Arab-Israeli conflict. He asked
    Nasser, “What do you want [Israel’s Prime Minister] Golda Meir to do?”

    Nasser replied, “Withdraw!”
    “Withdraw?” the lawyer asked.
    “Withdraw from every inch of Arab territory!”
    “Without a deal? With nothing from you?” the American asked incredulously.
    “Nothing. It’s our territory. She should promise to withdraw,” Nasser replied.
    The American asked, “What would happen to Golda Meir if tomorrow morning she appeared on

    Israeli radio and television and said, ‘On behalf of the people of Israel, I hereby promise to withdraw
    from every inch of territory occupied in 1967: the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank,

    Jerusalem, the Golan Heights. And I want you to know, I have no commitment of any kind from any Arab

    Nasser burst out laughing. “Oh, would she have trouble at home!”
    Understanding what an unrealistic option Egypt had been offering Israel may have contributed to

    Nasser’s stated willingness later that day to accept a cease-fire in the ongoing hostilities.
    Don’t defend your ideas, invite criticism and advice. A lot of time in negotiation is spent criticizing.

    Rather than resisting the other side’s criticism, invite it. Instead of asking them to accept or reject an idea,
    ask them what’s wrong with it. “What concerns of yours would this salary proposal fail to take into
    account?” Examine their negative judgments to find out their underlying interests and to improve your
    ideas from their point of view. Rework your ideas in light of what you learn from them, and thus turn
    criticism from an obstacle in the process of working toward agreement into an essential ingredient of that
    process. “If I understand you, you’re saying you can’t afford to give 750 teachers more than a $2,000
    across-the-board raise. What if we accept that with the stipulation that any money saved by hiring fewer
    than 750 full-time teachers will be distributed as a monthly bonus to those teachers who are working?”

    Another way to channel criticism in a constructive direction is to turn the situation around and ask for
    their advice. Ask them what they would do if they were in your position. “If your jobs were at stake, what
    would you do? Our members are feeling so insecure about their jobs and frustrated by their shrinking
    dollars they’re talking about inviting a militant union in to represent them. If you were leading this
    association, how would you act?” Thus, you lead them to confront your half of the problem. In doing so,
    they may be able to invent a solution that meets your concerns. “Part of the problem here seems to be that
    the teachers feel no one’s listening. Would it help to have regular sessions at which teachers could meet
    with the school board?”

    Recast an attack on you as an attack on the problem. When the other side attacks you personally—
    as frequently happens—resist the temptation to defend yourself or to attack them. Instead, sit back and
    allow them to let off steam. Listen to them, show you understand what they are saying, and when they have
    finished, recast their attack on you as an attack on the problem. “When you say that a strike shows we
    don’t care about the children, I hear your concern about the children’s education. I want you to know that
    we share this concern: they are our children and our students. We want the strike to end so we can go back
    to educating them. What can we both do now to reach an agreement as quickly as possible?”

    Ask questions and pause. Those engaged in negotiation jujitsu use two key tools. The first is to use
    questions instead of statements. Statements generate resistance, whereas questions generate answers.
    Questions allow the other side to get their points across and let you understand them. They pose
    challenges and can be used to lead the other side to confront the problem. Questions offer them no target
    to strike at, no position to attack. Questions do not criticize, they educate. “Do you think it would be better
    to have teachers cooperating in a process they felt they were participating in, or actively resisting one
    they felt was imposed on them and failed to take their concerns into account?”

    Silence is one of your best weapons. Use it. If they have made an unreasonable proposal or an attack
    you regard as unjustified, the best thing to do may be to sit there and not say a word.

    If you have asked an honest question to which they have provided an insufficient answer, just wait.
    People tend to feel uncomfortable with silence, particularly if they have doubts about the merits of
    something they have said. For example, if a teacher’s representative asks, “Why shouldn’t teachers have a
    say in layoff policy?” the school board chairman might find himself at a loss: “Layoffs are a purely
    administrative matter. . . . Well, of course teachers have an interest in layoff policy, but they really aren’t
    the best qualified to know who’s a good teacher. . . . Uh, what I mean is . . . .”

    Silence often creates the impression of a stalemate that the other side will feel impelled to break by

    answering your question or coming up with a new suggestion. When you ask questions, pause. Don’t take
    them off the hook by going right on with another question or some comment of your own. Some of the most
    effective negotiating you will ever do is when you are not talking.

    Consider the one-text procedure
    You will probably call in a third party only if your own efforts to shift the game from positional
    bargaining to principled negotiation have failed. The problem you face may be illustrated by a simple
    story of a negotiation between a husband and wife who plan to build a new house.

    The wife is thinking of a two-story house with a chimney and a bay window. The husband is thinking
    of a modern one-story ranch-style house with a den and a garage with a lot of storage space. In the
    process of negotiating, each asks the other a number of questions, like “What are your views on the living
    room?” and “Do you really insist on having it your way?” Through answering such questions, two
    separate plans become more and more fixed. They each ask an architect to prepare first a sketch and then
    more detailed plans, ever more firmly digging themselves into their respective positions. In response to
    the wife’s demand for some flexibility, the husband agrees to reduce the length of the garage by one foot.
    In response to his insistence on a concession, the wife agrees to give up a back porch, which she says she
    had always wanted but which did not even appear on her plan. Each argues in support of one plan and
    against the other. In the process, feelings are hurt and communication becomes difficult. Neither side
    wants to make a concession, since it will likely lead only to requests for more concessions.

    This is a classic case of positional bargaining. If you cannot change the process to one of seeking a
    solution on the merits, perhaps a third party can. More easily than one of those directly involved, a
    mediator can separate the people from the problem and direct the discussion to interests and options.
    Further, he or she can often suggest some impartial basis for resolving differences. A third party can also
    separate inventing from decision-making, reduce the number of decisions required to reach agreement,
    and help the parties know what they will get when they do decide. One process designed to enable a third
    party to do all this is known as the one-text procedure.

    In the house-designing negotiation between husband and wife, an independent architect is called in and
    shown the latest plans reflecting the present positions of the husband and the wife. Not all third parties
    will behave wisely. One architect, for example, might ask the parties for clarification of their positions,
    press them for a long series of concessions, and make them even more emotionally attached to their
    particular solutions. But an architect using the one-text procedure would behave differently. Rather than
    ask about their positions he asks about their interests: not how big a bay window the wife wants, but why
    she wants it. “Is it for morning sun or afternoon sun? Is it to look out or look in?” He would ask the
    husband, “Why do you want a garage? What things do you need to store? What do you expect to do in your
    den? Read? Look at television? Entertain friends? When will you use the den? During the day?
    Weekends? Evenings?” And so forth.

    The architect makes clear he is not asking either spouse to give up a position. Rather, he is exploring
    the possibility that he might be able to make a recommendation to them—but even that is uncertain. At this
    stage he is just trying to learn all he can about their needs and interests.

    Afterward, the architect develops a list of interests and needs of the two spouses (“morning sun, open
    fireplace, comfortable place to read, room for a wood shop, storage for snow-blower and medium-size
    car,” and so on). He asks each spouse in turn to criticize the list and suggest improvements on it. It is hard
    to make concessions, but it is easy to criticize.

    A few days later the architect returns with a rough floor plan. “Personally, I am dissatisfied with it, but

    before working on it further I thought I would get your criticisms. What would be wrong with something
    like this?” The husband might say, “What’s wrong with it? Well, for one thing, the bathroom is too far
    from the bedroom. I don’t see enough room for my books. And where would overnight guests sleep?” The
    wife is similarly asked for her criticism of the first sketch.

    A short time later the architect comes back with a second sketch, again asking for criticism. “I’ve tried
    to deal with the bathroom problem and the book problem, and also with the idea of using the den as a
    spare bedroom and adding more storage space. What do you think about this?” As the plan takes shape,
    each spouse will tend to raise those issues most important to him or to her, not trivial details. Without
    conceding anything, the wife, for example, will want to make sure that the architect fully understands her
    major needs. No one’s ego, not even that of the architect, is committed to any draft. Inventing the best
    possible reconciliation of their interests within their financial constraints is separated from making
    decisions and is free of the fear of making an overhasty commitment. Husband and wife do not have to
    abandon their positions, but they now sit side by side, at least figuratively, jointly critiquing the plans as
    they take shape and helping the architect prepare a recommendation he may later present to them.

    And so it goes, through a third plan, a fourth, and a fifth. Finally, when he feels he can improve it no
    further, the architect says, “This is the best I can do. I have tried to reconcile your various interests as best
    I could. Many of the issues I have resolved using standard architectural and engineering solutions,
    precedent, and the best professional judgment I can bring to bear. Here it is. I recommend you accept this

    Each spouse now has only one decision to make: yes or no. In making their decisions they know
    exactly what they are going to get. And a yes answer can be made contingent on the other side’s also
    saying yes. The one-text procedure not only shifts the game away from positional bargaining, it greatly
    simplifies the process both of inventing options and of deciding jointly on one.

    In other negotiations, who could play the role of the architect? You could invite a third party in to
    mediate. Or, in negotiations involving more than two parties, a natural third party may be a participant
    whose interests on this issue lie more in effecting an agreement than in affecting the particular terms.

    In many negotiations that someone may be you. For instance, you may be a sales representative for a
    plastics plant negotiating a large order with an industrial customer who makes plastic bottles. The
    customer may want a special kind of plastic made up, but the plant you represent may be reluctant to do
    the retooling needed for the order. Your commission depends more on effecting an agreement between
    your customer and your production people than on affecting the terms. Or you may be a legislative
    assistant for a senator who is more concerned with getting a certain appropriations bill passed than with
    whether the appropriation is ten million dollars or eleven. Or you may be a manager trying to decide an
    issue on which each of your two subordinates favors a different course of action; you care more about
    making a decision both can live with than about which alternative is chosen. In each of these cases, even
    though you are an active participant, it may be in your best interest to behave as a mediator would and to
    use the one-text procedure. Mediate your own dispute.

    Perhaps the most famous use of the one-text procedure was by the United States at the Camp David
    summit in September 1978 when mediating between Egypt and Israel. The United States listened to both
    sides, prepared a draft to which no one was committed, asked for criticism, and improved the draft again
    and again until the mediators felt they could improve it no further. After thirteen days and some twenty-
    three drafts, the United States had a text it was prepared to recommend. When President Jimmy Carter
    finally did recommend it, Israel and Egypt accepted. As a mechanical technique for limiting the number of
    decisions, reducing the uncertainty of each decision, and preventing the parties from getting increasingly
    locked into their positions, it worked remarkably well.

    The one-text procedure is a great help for two-party negotiations involving a mediator. It is almost
    essential for large multilateral negotiations. One hundred and fifty nations, for example, cannot
    constructively discuss a hundred and fifty different proposals. Nor can they make concessions contingent
    upon mutual concessions by everybody else. Combining parts of many different proposals is also unlikely
    to produce the best answer, as illustrated by the old quip that a camel is a horse designed by a committee.
    Multiple parties need some way to simplify the process of decision-making without diminishing the
    quality of the outcome. The one-text procedure serves that purpose.

    The Law of the Sea negotiations started making significant progress only when they began using a
    prototype of the one-text procedure created by veteran diplomat Tommy Koh of Singapore. The
    negotiators were divided into groups to work on different issues with appointed chairpersons tabling
    drafts, soliciting criticism, and revising drafts within each group. A similar process was used for parts of
    the South African constitutional negotiations that ultimately ended apartheid and created an inclusive
    multilateral democracy.[3]

    Note that in most situations you do not have to get anyone’s consent to start using the one-text
    procedure. Simply prepare a draft and ask for criticism. Again, you can change the game simply by
    starting to play the new one. Even if the other side is not willing to talk to you directly (or vice versa), a
    third party can take a draft around.

    Getting them to play: The case of Jones Realty and Frank Turnbull
    The following real-life example of a negotiation between a landlord and tenant should give you a feel for
    how you might deal with a party who is reluctant to engage in principled negotiation. It illustrates what it
    means to change the game by starting to play a new one.

    The case in brief. Frank Turnbull rented an apartment in March from Jones Realty for $1,200 a month.
    In July, when he and his roommate, Paul, wanted to move out, Turnbull learned that the apartment was
    under rent control. The maximum legal rent was $932 a month—$268 less than he had been paying.

    Disturbed that he had been overcharged, Turnbull called on Mrs. Jones of Jones Realty to discuss the
    problem. At first, Mrs. Jones was unreceptive and hostile. She claimed to be right and accused Turnbull
    of ingratitude and blackmail. After several long negotiating sessions, however, Mrs. Jones agreed to
    reimburse Turnbull and his roommate. Her tone in the end became friendlier and apologetic.

    Throughout, Turnbull used the method of principled negotiation. Presented below is a selection of the
    exchanges that took place during the negotiation. Each exchange is headed by a stock phrase that a
    principled negotiator might use in any similar situation. Following each exchange is an analysis of the
    theory that lies behind it and its impact.

    “Please correct me if I’m wrong”

    Turnbull: Mrs. Jones, I’ve just learned—please correct me if I’m wrong—that our apartment’s under rent control. We’ve been
    told that the legal maximum rent is $932 a month. Have we been misinformed?

    Analysis. The essence of principled negotiation lies in remaining open to persuasion by objective
    facts and principles. By cautiously treating his view of the objective facts as possibly inaccurate and
    asking Mrs. Jones to correct it, Turnbull establishes a dialogue based on reason. He invites her to
    participate by either agreeing with the facts as presented or setting them right. This approach makes them
    two colleagues trying to establish the facts. The confrontation is defused. If Turnbull simply asserted his

    views of the facts as facts, Mrs. Jones would feel disrespected, threatened, and defensive. She might deny
    the facts, especially if she thought any aspect of Turnbull’s view was inaccurate or incomplete. The
    negotiation would not start off constructively.

    If Turnbull is genuinely mistaken, asking for corrections beforehand will make them easier to accept.
    To tell Mrs. Jones that these are the facts, only to learn he is wrong, would make him lose face. Worse yet,
    she would then doubt all the more anything else he says, making it difficult to negotiate.

    Making yourself open to correction and persuasion is a pillar in the strategy of principled negotiation.
    You can convince the other side to be open to the principles and objective standards you suggest only if
    you show yourself open to the ones they suggest.

    “We appreciate what you’ve done for us”

    Turnbull: Paul and I understand you were doing a personal favor by renting us this apartment. You were very kind to put in the
    time and effort, and we appreciate it.

    Analysis. Giving personal support to the person on the other side is crucial to disentangling the people
    from the problem—separating relationship issues from the substantive merits. By expressing his
    appreciation of Mrs. Jones’s good deeds, Turnbull in effect says, “We have nothing against you
    personally. We think you’re a generous person.” He puts himself on her side. He defuses any threat she
    may feel to her self-image.

  • Praise
  • and support, moreover, imply that the person will continue to deserve them. After being
    praised, Mrs. Jones now has a slight emotional investment in Turnbull’s approval of her. She has
    something to lose and as a result may act more conciliatory.

    “Our concern is fairness”

    Turnbull: We want to know that we didn’t pay any more than we should have. When we’re persuaded that the rent paid
    measures up fairly to the time spent in the apartment, we’ll call it even and move out.

    Analysis. Turnbull takes a basic stand on principle and announces his intention to stick to it; he must
    be persuaded on the basis of principle. At the same time, he lets Mrs. Jones know he is open to
    persuasion along the lines of this principle. She is thus left with little choice but to reason with him in
    pursuit of her interests.

    Turnbull does not take a righteous stand on principle backed up with whatever power he possesses.
    Not only are his ends principled but also the means he contemplates. His ends, he claims, are a fair
    balance between rent paid and time spent. If convinced the rent paid is just right for the time spent, he will
    move out. If the rent paid is excessive, it is only fair that he remain in the apartment until the rent and the
    time spent are in balance.

    “We would like to settle this on the basis of independent standards, not of who can
    do what to whom”

    Mrs. Jones: It’s funny you should mention fairness, because what you’re really saying is that you and Paul just want money,
    and that you’re going to take advantage of your still being in the apartment to try and get it from us. That really makes me angry. If I
    had my way, you and Paul would be out of the apartment today.

    Turnbull (barely controlling his anger): I must not be making myself clear. Of course it would be nice if Paul and I got some
    money. Of course we could try and stay here in the apartment until you got us evicted. But that’s not the point, Mrs. Jones.

    More important to us than making a few dollars here or there is the feeling of being treated fairly. No one likes to feel cheated.
    And if we made this a matter of who’s got the power and refused to move, we’d have to go to court, waste a lot of time and
    money, and end up with a big headache. You would too. Who wants that?

    No, Mrs. Jones, we want to handle this problem fairly on the basis of some independent standard, rather than who can do
    what to whom.

    Analysis. Mrs. Jones challenges the idea of negotiating on the basis of principle, calling it a charade.
    It’s a matter of will and her will is to throw out Turnbull and his roommate today.

    At this Turnbull almost loses his temper—and with it his control over the negotiation. He feels like
    counterattacking: “I’d like to see you try to get us out. We’ll go to court. We’ll get your license revoked.”
    The negotiation would then break off, and Turnbull would lose a lot of time, effort, and peace of mind.
    But instead of reacting, Turnbull keeps his temper and brings the negotiation back to the merits. This is a
    good example of negotiation jujitsu. He deflects Mrs. Jones’s attack by taking responsibility for her
    mistaken perceptions, and he tries to persuade her of his sincere interest in principle. He does not hide
    either his selfish interests or his leverage over her; on the contrary, he makes both explicit. Once they are
    acknowledged, he can distinguish them from the merits and they can cease being an issue.

    Turnbull also tries to give the game of principled negotiation some weight by telling Mrs. Jones this is
    his basic code—the way he always plays. He attributes this not to high-minded motives—which are
    always suspect—but to simple self-interest.

    “Trust is a separate Issue”

    Mrs. Jones: You don’t trust me? After all I’ve done for you?
    Turnbull: Mrs. Jones, we appreciate all you’ve done for us. For us, this is not a matter of trust. The issue is the principle: Did

    we pay more than we should have? What considerations do you think we should take into account in deciding this?

    Analysis. Mrs. Jones tries to manipulate Turnbull into a corner. Either he pursues the point and looks
    untrusting, or he looks trusting and gives in. Turnbull slips out of the corner, however, by expressing his
    gratitude once more and then defining the question of trust as irrelevant. Turnbull at once reaffirms his
    appreciation of Mrs. Jones while he remains firm on the principle. In doing so, he avoids connecting the
    two thoughts with “but,” implicitly using “and” instead. “But,” sometimes called the “great eraser,” has a
    tendency to negate the first thing you say by implying that only one of two statements can be true, making it
    either/or. “And” underscores the more complex reality that both thoughts can be true at the same time. It
    helps ensure both that Mrs. Jones feels heard and appreciated and that she can’t frame Turnbull as
    wrongly untrusting.

    Moreover, instead of just shunting aside the question of trust, Turnbull actively directs the discussion
    back to principle by asking Mrs. Jones what considerations she thinks are relevant.

    Turnbull sticks to principle without blaming Mrs. Jones. He never calls her dishonest. He does not
    ask, “Did you take advantage of us?” but inquires more impersonally, “Did we pay more than we should
    have?” Even if he does not trust her, it would be a poor strategy to tell her so. She would probably
    become defensive and angry and might either withdraw into a rigid position or break off the negotiation

    It helps to have stock phrases like “It’s not a question of trust” to turn aside ploys like Mrs. Jones’s
    plea for trust.

    “Could I ask you a few questions to see whether my facts are right?”

    Turnbull: Could I ask you a few questions to see whether the facts I’ve been given are right?
    Is the apartment really under rent control?
    Is the legal maximum rent really $932?
    Paul asked me whether this makes us parties to a violation of the law.
    Did someone inform Paul at the time he signed the lease that the apartment was under rent control, and that the legal

    maximum was $268 lower than the rent he agreed to?

    Analysis. Statements of fact can feel lecturing or threatening. Whenever you can, ask a question

    Turnbull might have declared, “The legal rent is $932. You broke the law. What’s worse, you involved
    us in breaking the law without telling us so.” Mrs. Jones would probably have reacted strongly to these
    statements, dismissing them as verbal attacks intended to score points.

    Phrasing each piece of information as a question allows Mrs. Jones to participate, listen to the
    information, evaluate it, and either accept or correct it. Turnbull communicates the same information to
    her but in a less provocative manner. He reduces the heat still further by attributing a particularly pointed
    question to his absent roommate.

    In effect, Turnbull induces Mrs. Jones to help lay a foundation of agreed-upon facts upon which a
    principled solution can be built.

    “What’s the principle behind your action?”

    Turnbull: I’m not clear why you charged us $1,200 a month. What were your reasons for charging that much?

    Analysis. A principled negotiator neither accepts nor rejects the other side’s positions. To keep the
    dialogue focused on the merits, Turnbull questions Mrs. Jones about the reasons for her position. He does
    not ask whether there were any reasons. He assumes there are good reasons. This flattering assumption
    leads the other side to search for reasons even if there are none, thus keeping the negotiation on the basis
    of principle.

    “Let me see if I understand what you’re saying”

    Turnbull: Let me see if I understand what you’re saying, Mrs. Jones. If I’ve understood you correctly, you think the rent we paid
    is fair because you made a lot of repairs and improvements to the apartment since the last rent control evaluation. It wasn’t worth
    your while to ask the Rent Control Board for an increase for the few months you rented the place to us.

    In fact, you rented it only as a favor to Paul. And now you’re concerned that we may take unfair advantage of you and try to get
    money from you as the price for moving out. Is there something I’ve missed or misunderstood?

    Analysis. Principled negotiation requires good communication. Before responding to Mrs. Jones’s
    arguments, Turnbull restates to her in positive terms what he has heard to make sure he has indeed
    understood her.

    Once she feels understood, she can relax and discuss the problem constructively. She can’t dismiss his
    arguments on the grounds that they do not take into account what she knows. She is more likely to listen
    now and be more receptive. In trying to sum up her point of view, Turnbull establishes a cooperative
    game in which both are making sure he understands the facts.

    “Let me get back to you”

    Turnbull: Now that I think I understand your point of view, let me talk with my roommate and explain it to him. Can I get back to
    you tomorrow sometime?

    Analysis. A good negotiator rarely makes an important decision on the spot. The psychological
    pressure to be nice and to give in is too great. A little time and distance help disentangle the people from
    the problem.

    A good negotiator comes to the table with a credible reason in his pocket for leaving when he wants.
    Such a reason should not indicate passivity or inability to make a decision. Here, Turnbull sounds as if he
    knows exactly what he is doing, and he arranges to resume the negotiation at a given time. He shows not
    only decisiveness but also control over the course of the negotiation.

    Once away from the table, Turnbull can check on points of information and consult his “constituency,”
    Paul. He can think about the decision and make sure he has not lost perspective.

    Too much time at the table may wear down one’s commitment to principled negotiation. Returning to
    the table with renewed resolve, Turnbull can be soft on the person without being soft on the problem.

    “Let me show you where I have trouble following some of your reasoning”

    Turnbull: Let me show you where I have trouble following some of your reasons for the extra $268 a month. One reason was
    the repairs and improvements on the apartment. The Rent Control Examiner said it would take about $30,000 in improvements to
    justify an increase of $268 a month. How much money was spent on improvements?

    I must admit it didn’t seem like $30,000 worth to Paul and me. The hole in the linoleum you promised to repair was never fixed,
    neither was the hole in the living room floor. The toilet broke down repeatedly. These are just some of the defects and
    malfunctions we experienced.

    Analysis. In principled negotiation you present your reasons first before offering a proposal. If
    principles come afterward, they appear not as the objective criteria that any proposal should satisfy but as
    mere justifications for an arbitrary position.

    For Turnbull to explain his reasons first shows his openness to persuasion and his awareness of the
    need to convince Mrs. Jones. If he announced his proposal first, Mrs. Jones probably would not bother to
    listen to the reasons that followed. Her mind would be elsewhere, considering what objections and
    counterproposals she could make.

    Turnbull has also sought out objective standards to support his concerns. He has called the Rent
    Control Board to quantify a correlation between improvements and a $268 per month rent increase. In
    preparing for your negotiation, it helps to think about what standards would be useful, who might be able
    to provide them, and how to frame your questions to elicit the most relevant information.

    “One fair solution might be . . .”

    Turnbull: Given all the considerations we’ve discussed, one fair solution seems to be for Paul and me to be reimbursed for
    the amount of rent we paid in excess of the legal maximum. Does that sound fair to you?

    Analysis. Turnbull presents a proposal not as his, but as a fair option that deserves their joint
    consideration. He does not claim it is the only fair solution, but one fair solution. He is specific without

    digging himself into a position and inviting rejection.

    “If we agree . . . if we disagree . . . ”

    Turnbull: If you and I could reach agreement now, Paul and I would move out immediately. If we can’t reach an agreement,
    the hearing examiner at the Rent Control Board suggested that we stay in the apartment and withhold rent and/or sue you for
    reimbursement, treble damages, and legal fees. Paul and I are extremely reluctant to take either of these courses. We feel
    confident we can settle this matter fairly with you to your satisfaction and ours.

    Analysis. Turnbull is trying to make it easy for Mrs. Jones to say yes to his proposal. So he starts by
    making it clear that all it takes for the problem to go away is Mrs. Jones’s agreement.

    The trickiest part of the message to communicate is the alternative if no agreement is reached. How
    can Turnbull get this across—he wants her to take it into account in her decision—without upsetting the
    negotiations? He bases the alternative on objective principle by attributing it to a legal authority—the
    hearing examiner. He distances himself personally from the suggestion. Nor does he say he will definitely
    take action. Instead, he leaves it as a possibility and emphasizes his reluctance to do anything drastic.
    Finally, he closes by affirming his confidence that a mutually satisfactory agreement will be reached.

    Turnbull’s BATNA—his best alternative to a negotiated agreement—is probably neither staying in the
    apartment nor going to court. He and Paul have already rented another apartment and would greatly prefer
    to move out now. A lawsuit would be difficult, given their busy schedules, and even if they won, they
    might never be able to collect. Turnbull’s BATNA is probably just to move out and stop worrying about
    the $1,340 overpayment. Since his BATNA is probably less attractive than Mrs. Jones thinks, Turnbull
    does not disclose it.

    “We’d be happy to see if we can leave when it’s most convenient for you”

    Mrs. Jones: When do you plan to move out?
    Turnbull: As long as we’ve agreed on the appropriate rent for our time in the apartment, we’d be happy to see if we can leave

    when it’s most convenient for you. When would you prefer?

    Analysis. Sensing the possibility of a joint gain, Turnbull indicates his willingness to discuss ways of
    meeting Mrs. Jones’s interest. As it turns out, Turnbull and Mrs. Jones have a shared interest in Turnbull
    moving out as soon as possible.

    Incorporating her interests into the agreement not only gives her more of a stake in it but also allows
    Mrs. Jones to save face. On the one hand, she can feel good about agreeing to a fair solution even though
    it costs her money. On the other, she can say that she got the tenants out of the apartment early.

    “It’s been a pleasure dealing with you”

    Turnbull: Paul and I do appreciate, Mrs. Jones, all that you’ve done for us, and I’m pleased that we’ve settled this last problem
    fairly and amicably.

    Mrs. Jones: Thank you, Mr. Turnbull. Have a nice summer.

    Analysis. Turnbull ends the negotiation on a final conciliatory note toward Mrs. Jones. Because they
    successfully dealt with the problem independently of the relationship, neither party feels cheated or angry,

    and neither is likely to try to sabotage or ignore their agreement. A working relationship is maintained for
    the future.

    Whether you use principled negotiation and negotiation jujitsu, as Frank Turnbull did, or a third party
    with the one-text procedure, the conclusion remains the same: you can usually get the other side to play
    the game of principled negotiation with you, even if at first they appear unwilling.

    8 What If They Use Dirty Tricks?

    (Taming the Hard Bargainer)

    Principled negotiation is all very well, but what if the other negotiator deceives you or tries to throw
    you off balance? Or what if they escalate their demands just when you are on the verge of agreement?

    There are many tactics and tricks people can use to try to take advantage of you. Everyone knows
    some of them. They range from lies and psychological abuse to various forms of pressure tactics. They
    may be illegal, unethical, or simply unpleasant. Their purpose is to help the user “win” some substantive
    gain in an unprincipled contest of will. Such tactics may be called tricky bargaining.

    If they recognize that a tricky bargaining tactic is being used against them, most people respond in one
    of two ways. The first standard response is to put up with it. It is unpleasant to rock the boat. You may
    give the other side the benefit of the doubt or get angry and promise yourself never to deal with them
    again. For now, you hope for the best and keep quiet. Most people respond this way. They hope that if
    they give in this time, the other side will be appeased and will not ask for more. Sometimes this works,
    more often it fails. This is how Neville Chamberlain, the British Prime Minister, responded in 1938 to
    Hitler’s negotiating tactics. After Chamberlain thought he had an agreement, Hitler raised his demands. At
    Munich, Chamberlain, hoping to avoid war, went along. A year later, World War II started.

    The second common response is to respond in kind. If they start outrageously high, you start
    outrageously low. If they are deceptive, so are you. If they make threats, you make counter-threats. If they
    lock themselves into their position, you lock yourself even more tightly into yours. In the end either one
    party yields or, all too often, negotiation breaks off.

    Such tricky tactics are illegitimate because they fail the test of reciprocity. They are designed to be
    used by only one side; the other side is not supposed to know the tactics or is expected to tolerate them
    knowingly. Earlier we argued that an effective counter to a one-sided substantive proposal is to examine
    the legitimacy of the principle that the proposal reflects. Tricky bargaining tactics are in effect one-sided
    proposals about negotiating procedure, about the negotiating game that the parties are going to play. To
    counter them, you will want to engage in principled negotiation about the negotiating process.

    How do you negotiate about the rules of the game?
    There are three steps in negotiating the rules of the negotiating game where the other side seems to be
    using a tricky tactic: recognize the tactic, raise the issue explicitly, and question the tactic’s legitimacy and

    desirability—negotiate over it.
    You have to know what is going on to be able to do something about it. Learn to spot particular ploys

    that indicate deception, those designed to make you uncomfortable, and those that lock the other side into
    their position. Often just recognizing a tactic will neutralize it. Realizing, for example, that the other side
    is attacking you personally to impair your judgment may well frustrate the effort.

    After recognizing the tactic, consider bringing it up with the other side. “Say, Joe, I may be totally
    mistaken, but I’m getting the feeling that you and Ted here are playing a good-guy/bad-guy routine. If you
    two want a recess any time to straighten out differences between you, just ask.” Discussing the tactic not
    only makes it less effective, it also may cause the other side to worry about alienating you completely.
    Simply raising a question about a tactic may be enough to get them to stop using it.

    The most important purpose of bringing the tactic up explicitly, however, is to give you an opportunity
    to negotiate about the rules of the game. This is the third step. This negotiation focuses on procedure
    instead of substance, but the goal remains to produce a wise agreement (this time about procedure)
    efficiently and amicably. Not surprisingly, the method remains the same.

    Separate the people from the problem. Don’t attack people personally for using a tactic you
    consider illegitimate. If they get defensive it may be more difficult for them to give up the tactic, and they
    may be left with a residue of anger that will fester and interfere with other issues. Question the tactic, not
    their personal integrity. Rather than saying, “You deliberately put me here facing the sun,” attack the
    problem: “I am finding the sun in my eyes quite distracting. Unless we can solve the problem, I may have
    to leave early to get some rest. Shall we revise the schedule?” It will be easier to reform the negotiating
    process than to reform those with whom you are dealing. Don’t be diverted from the negotiation by the
    urge to teach them a lesson.

    Focus on interests, not positions. “Why are you committing yourself in the press to an extreme
    position? Are you trying to protect yourself from criticism? Or are you protecting yourself from changing
    your position? Is it in our mutual interest to have both of us use this tactic?”

    Invent options for mutual gain. Suggest alternative games to play. “How about our undertaking to
    make no statements to the press until we reach agreement or break off the talks?”

    Insist on using objective criteria. Above all, be hard on principle. “Is there a theory behind having
    me sit in the low chair with my back to the open door?” Try out the principle of reciprocity on them. “I
    assume that you will sit in this chair tomorrow morning?” Frame the principle behind each tactic as a
    proposed “rule” for the game. “Shall we alternate spilling coffee on one another day by day?”

    As a last resort, turn to your BATNA (your Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement) and walk
    out. “It’s my impression that you’re not interested in negotiating in a way that we both think will produce
    results. Here’s my phone number. If I’m mistaken, I’m ready any time you are. Until then, we’ll pursue the
    court option.” If you are walking out on clearly legitimate grounds, as when they have deliberately
    deceived you about facts or their authority, and if they are genuinely interested in an agreement, they are
    likely to call you back to the table.

    Some common tricky tactics
    Tricky tactics can be divided into three categories: deliberate deception, psychological warfare, and
    positional pressure tactics. You should be prepared to deal with all three. Below are a number of common
    examples of each type; for each in turn, we show how principled negotiation might be applied to counter

    Deliberate deception
    Perhaps the most common form of dirty trick is misrepresentation about facts, authority, or intentions.

    Phony facts. The oldest form of negotiating trickery is to make some knowingly false statement: “This
    car was driven only 5,000 miles by a little old lady from Pasadena who never went over 35 miles per
    hour.” The dangers of being taken in by false statements are great. What can you do?

    Disentangle the people from the problem. Unless you have good reason to trust somebody, don’t. This
    does not mean calling him a liar; rather it means making the negotiation proceed independent of trust. Do
    not let someone treat your doubts as a personal attack. No seller is likely to give you a watch or a car
    simply in exchange for your statement that you have money in the bank. Just as a seller will routinely
    check on your credit (“because there are so many other people around that can’t be trusted”), you can do
    the same for statements of the other side. A practice of verifying factual assertions reduces the incentive
    for deception, and your risk of being cheated.

    Ambiguous authority. The other side may allow you to believe that they, like you, have full authority
    to compromise when they don’t. After they have pressed you as hard as they can and you have worked out
    what you believe to be a firm agreement, they announce that they must take it to someone else for
    approval. This technique is designed to give them a “second bite at the apple.”

    This is a bad situation to fall into. If only you have authority to make concessions, only you will make

    Do not assume that the other side has full authority just because they are there negotiating with you. An
    insurance adjuster, a lawyer, or a salesperson may allow you to think that your flexibility is being matched
    by flexibility on their side. You may later find that what you thought was an agreement will be treated by
    the other side as simply a floor for further negotiation.

    Before starting on any give-and-take, find out about the authority on the other side. It is perfectly
    legitimate to inquire, “Just how much authority do you have in this particular negotiation?” If the answer
    is ambiguous, you may wish to talk to someone with real authority or to make clear that you on your side
    are reserving equal freedom to reconsider any point.

    If they do announce unexpectedly that they are treating what you thought was an agreement as a basis
    for further negotiation, insist on reciprocity. “All right. We will treat it as a joint draft to which neither
    side is committed. You check with your boss and I’ll sleep on it and see if I come up with any changes I
    want to suggest tomorrow.” Or you might say, “If your boss approves this draft tomorrow, I’ll stick by it.
    Otherwise each of us should feel free to propose changes.”

    One way to try to head off this problem is to clarify early in the negotiation that “nothing is agreed
    until everything is agreed,” so that any effort to reopen one issue automatically reopens all issues.

    Dubious intentions. Where the issue is one of possible misrepresentation of their intention to comply
    with the agreement, it is often possible to build compliance features into the agreement itself.

    Suppose you are a lawyer representing the wife in a divorce negotiation. Your client does not believe
    her husband will pay child support even though he may agree to do so. The time and energy spent in going
    to court every month may lead her to give up the effort. What can you do? Make the problem explicit and
    use their protestations to get a guarantee. You could say to the husband’s lawyer, “Look, my client is
    afraid those child support payments simply aren’t going to be made. Rather than monthly payments, how
    about giving her equity in the house?” The husband’s lawyer may say, “My client is perfectly trustworthy.
    We’ll put it in writing that he will pay child support regularly.” To which you might respond, “It’s not a
    matter of trust. Are you certain that your client will pay?”

    “Of course.”
    “A hundred percent certain?”

    “Yes, I’m a hundred percent certain.”
    “Then you won’t mind a contingent agreement. Your client will agree to make child support payments.

    We’ll provide that if, for some inexplicable reason that you estimate at zero percent probability, he misses
    two payments, my client will get the equity in the house (minus, of course, the amount your client has
    already paid out in child support) and your client will no longer be liable for child support.” It is not easy
    for the husband’s lawyer to object.

    Less than full disclosure is not the same as deception. Deliberate deception as to facts or one’s
    intentions is quite different from not fully disclosing one’s present thinking. Good faith negotiation does
    not require total disclosure. Perhaps the best answer to questions such as “What is the most you would
    pay if you had to?” would be along the following lines: “Let’s not put ourselves under such a strong
    temptation to mislead. If you think no agreement is possible, and that we may be wasting our time, perhaps
    we could disclose our thinking to some trustworthy third party, who can then tell us whether there is a
    zone of potential agreement.” In this way it is possible to behave with full candor about information that is
    not being disclosed.

    Psychological warfare
    These tactics are designed to make you feel uncomfortable, so that you will have a subconscious desire to
    end the negotiation as soon as possible.

    Stressful situations. Much has been written about the physical circumstances in which negotiations
    take place. You should be sensitive to such modest questions as whether a meeting takes place at your
    place or theirs, or on neutral territory. Contrary to the accepted wisdom, it is sometimes advantageous to
    accept an offer to meet on the other side’s turf. It may put them at ease, making them more open to your
    suggestions. If necessary, it will be easier for you to walk out. If, however, you do allow the other side to
    choose the physical environment, be aware of what that choice is and what effects it may have.

    Ask yourself if you feel under stress, and if so, why. If the room is too noisy, if the temperature is too
    hot or cold, if there is no place for a private caucus with a colleague, be aware that the setting might have
    been deliberately designed to make you want to conclude negotiations promptly and, if necessary, to yield
    points to do so.

    If you find the physical surroundings prejudicial, do not hesitate to say so. You can suggest changing
    chairs, taking a break, or adjourning to a different location or another time. In every case your job is to
    identify the problem, be willing to raise it with the other side, and then negotiate better physical
    circumstances in an objective and principled fashion.

    Personal attacks. In addition to manipulating the physical environment, there are also ways for the
    other side to use verbal and nonverbal communication to make you feel uncomfortable. They can comment
    on your clothes or your appearance. “Looks like you were up all night. Things not going well at the
    office?” They can attack your status by making you wait for them or by interrupting the negotiations to
    deal with other people. They can imply that you are ignorant. They can refuse to listen to you and make
    you repeat yourself. They can deliberately refuse to make eye contact with you. (Simple experiments with
    students have confirmed the malaise many feel when this tactic is used, and they are unable to identify the
    cause of the problem.) In each case recognizing the tactic will help nullify its effect; bringing it up
    explicitly will probably prevent a recurrence.

    The good-guy/bad-guy routine. One form of psychological pressure that also involves deception is
    the good-guy/bad-guy routine. This technique appears in its starkest form in old police movies. The first
    policeman threatens the suspect with prosecution for numerous crimes, puts him under a bright light,
    pushes him around, then finally takes a break and leaves. The good guy then turns off the light, offers the

    suspect a cigarette, and apologizes for the tough policeman. He says he’d like to control the tough guy, but
    he can’t unless the suspect cooperates. The result: the suspect tells all he knows.

    Similarly in a negotiation, two people on the same side will stage a quarrel. One will take a tough
    stand: “This business is worth $80,000 and I won’t accept a penny less.” His partner looks pained and a
    little embarrassed. Finally he breaks in: “Frank, you are being unreasonable. After all, cash flow is a
    little down, even if receivables are strong.” Turning to the other side, he says reasonably, “Could you pay
    $76,000?” The concession isn’t large, but it almost seems like a favor.

    The good-guy/bad-guy routine is a form of psychological manipulation. If you recognize it, you won’t
    be taken in. When the good guy makes his pitch, just ask him the same question you asked the bad guy: “I
    appreciate that you are trying to be reasonable, and I still want to know why you think that’s a fair price.
    What is your principle? I am prepared to pay $80,000 if you can persuade me it’s the fairest price.”

    Threats. Threats are one of the most abused tactics in negotiation. A threat seems easy to make—
    much easier than an offer. All it takes is a few words, and if it works, you never have to carry it out. But
    threats can lead to counterthreats in an escalating spiral that can unhinge a negotiation and even destroy a

    Threats are pressure. Pressure often accomplishes just the opposite of what it is intended to do; it
    builds up pressure the other way. Instead of making a decision easier for the other side, it often makes it
    more difficult. In response to outside pressure, a union, a committee, a company, or a government may
    close ranks. Moderates and hawks join together to resist what they may perceive as an illegitimate attempt
    to coerce them. The question changes from “Should we make this decision?” to “Shall we cave in to
    outside pressure?”

    Good negotiators rarely resort to threats. They do not need to; there are other ways to communicate the
    same information. If it seems appropriate to outline the consequences of the other side’s action, suggest
    those that will occur independently of your will rather than those you could choose to bring about.
    Warnings are much more legitimate than threats and are not vulnerable to counterthreats: “Should we fail
    to reach agreement, it seems highly probable to me that the news media would insist on publishing the
    whole sordid story. In a matter of this much public interest, I don’t see how we could legitimately or
    realistically suppress information. Do you?”

    You can also warn the other side about your likely actions in the event of no agreement, so long as you
    can show how those actions are intended to safeguard your interests, not to coerce or punish the other
    side. “So you are not surprised, here is a draft of the press release we plan to issue if our contract is not
    renewed.” If the other side finds this prospect unpleasant, they may react by asking, “Are you threatening
    me?” Provided your plans are a true warning, you should be able to reply confidently, “Absolutely not. In
    our shoes, would you recommend a better way to safeguard our interests?”

    For threats to be effective they must be credibly communicated. Sometimes you can interfere with the
    communication process. You can ignore threats; you can take them as unauthorized, spoken in haste, or
    simply irrelevant. You can also make it risky to communicate them. At a coal mine where one of the
    authors was recently mediating, a large number of false but costly bomb threats were being received.
    These dropped off dramatically when the company’s receptionist began answering all phone calls with
    “Your voice is being recorded. What number are you calling?”

    Sometimes threats can be turned to your political advantage. A union could announce to the press:
    “Management has such a weak case that they are resorting to threats.” Perhaps the best response to a
    threat, however, is to be principled. “We have prepared a sequence of countermoves for each of
    management’s customary threats. However, we have delayed taking action until we see whether we can
    agree that making threats is not the most constructive activity we could engage in just now.” Or “I only

    negotiate on the merits. My reputation is built on not responding to threats.”

    Positional pressure tactics
    This kind of bargaining tactic is designed to structure the situation so that only one side can effectively
    make concessions.

    Refusal to negotiate. When the American diplomats and embassy personnel were taken hostage in
    Tehran in November 1979, the Iranian government announced its demands and refused to negotiate. A
    lawyer will often do the same, simply telling opposing counsel, “I’ll see you in court.” What can you do
    when the other side refuses to negotiate altogether?

    First, recognize the tactic as a possible negotiating ploy: an attempt to use their entry into negotiation
    as a bargaining chip to obtain some concession on substance. A variant on this ploy is to set preconditions
    for negotiations.

    Second, talk about their refusal to negotiate. Communicate either directly or through third parties.
    Don’t attack them for refusing to negotiate, but rather find out their interests in not negotiating. Are they
    worried about giving you status by talking to you? Will those who talk with you be criticized for being
    “soft”? Do they think negotiation will destroy their precarious internal unity? Or do they simply not
    believe that an agreement is possible?

    Suggest some options, such as negotiating through third parties, sending letters, or encouraging private
    individuals like journalists to discuss the issues (as happened in the Iranian case).

    Finally, insist on using principles. Is this the way they would want you to play? Do they want you to
    set preconditions as well? Will they want others to refuse to negotiate with them? What are the principles
    they think should apply to this situation?

    Extreme demands. Negotiators will frequently start with extreme proposals like offering $175,000
    for your house that is apparently worth $300,000. The goal is to lower your expectations. They also figure
    that an extreme initial position will give them a better end result, on the theory that the parties will
    ultimately end up splitting the difference between their positions. There are drawbacks to this approach,
    even for tricky bargainers. Making an extreme demand that both you and they know will be abandoned
    undermines their credibility. Such an opening may also kill the deal; if they offer too little, you may think
    they are not worth bothering with.

    Bringing the tactic to their attention works well here. Ask for principled justification of their position
    until it looks ridiculous even to them.

    Escalating demands. A negotiator may raise one of his demands for every concession he makes on
    another. He may also reopen issues you thought had been settled. The benefits of this tactic lie in
    decreasing the overall concession, and in the psychological effect of making you want to agree quickly
    before he raises any more of his demands.

    The Prime Minister of Malta used this tactic in negotiating with Great Britain in 1971 over the price
    of naval and air base rights. Each time the British thought they had an agreement, he would say, “Yes,
    agreed, but there is still one small problem.” And the small problem would turn out to be a £10 million
    cash advance or guaranteed jobs for dockyard and base workers for the life of the contract.

    When you recognize this, call it to their attention and then perhaps take a break while you consider
    whether and on what basis you want to continue negotiations. This avoids an impulsive reaction while
    indicating the seriousness of their conduct. And again, insist on principle. When you come back, anyone
    interested in settlement will be more serious.

    Lock-in tactics. This tactic is illustrated by Thomas Schelling’s well-known example of two
    dynamite trucks barreling toward each other on a single-lane road. The question becomes which truck

    goes off the road to avoid an accident. As the trucks near each other, one driver in full view of the other
    pulls off his steering wheel and throws it out the window. Seeing this, the other driver has a choice
    between an explosive crash or driving his truck off the road into a ditch. This is an example of an extreme
    commitment tactic designed to make it impossible to yield. Paradoxically, you strengthen your bargaining
    position by weakening your control over the situation.

    In labor-management and international negotiations this tactic is common. A union president makes a
    rousing speech to her constituency pledging that she will never accept less than a 15 percent salary
    increase. Since she stands to lose face and credibility if she does agree to anything less, she can more
    convincingly persuade management the union must have 15 percent.

    But lock-in tactics are gambles. You may call the other side’s bluff and force them to make a
    concession, which they will then have to explain to their constituency.

    Like threats, lock-in tactics depend on communication. If the other truck driver does not see the
    steering wheel fly out the window, or if he thinks the truck has an emergency steering mechanism, the act
    of throwing the steering wheel out the window will not have its intended effect. The pressure to avoid a
    collision will be felt equally by both drivers.

    In response to a commitment tactic, therefore, you may be able to interrupt the communication. You can
    so interpret the commitment as to weaken it. “Oh, I see. You told the papers your goal was to settle for
    $400,000. Well, we all have our aspirations, I guess. Do you want to know what mine are?” Alternatively,
    you can crack a joke and not take the lock-in seriously.

    You can also resist lock-ins on principle: “Fine, Bob, I understand you made that statement publicly.
    But my practice is never to yield to pressure, only to reason. Now let’s talk about the merits of the
    problem.” Whatever you do, avoid making the commitment a central question. Deemphasize it so that the
    other side can more gracefully back down.

    Hardhearted partner. Perhaps the most common negotiating tactic used to justify not yielding to your
    requests is for the other negotiator to say that he personally would have no objection, but his hardhearted
    partner will not let him. “It’s a perfectly reasonable request, I agree. But my boss absolutely refuses to
    hear of it.”

    Recognize the tactic. Rather than discussing it with the other negotiator, you may want to get his
    agreement to the principle involved—perhaps in writing—and then if possible speak directly with the
    “hardhearted partner.”

    A calculated delay. Frequently one side will try to postpone coming to a decision until a time they
    think favorable. Labor negotiators will often delay until the last few hours before a strike deadline,
    relying on the psychological pressure of the deadline to make management more malleable. Unfortunately,
    they often miscalculate and the strike deadline passes. Once the strike begins, management, in turn, may
    decide to wait for a more favorable time, such as when the union’s strike fund has run out. Waiting for the
    right time is a high-cost game.

    In addition to making delaying tactics explicit and negotiating about them, consider creating a fading
    opportunity for the other side. If you represent one company negotiating a merger with another, start talks
    with a third company, exploring the possibility of merging with them instead. Look for objective
    conditions that can be used to establish credible deadlines, such as the date on which taxes are due, the
    annual trustees meeting, the end of the contract, or the end of the legislative session.

    “Take it or leave it.” There is nothing inherently wrong with confronting the other side with a firm
    choice. In fact, most American business is conducted this way. If you go into a supermarket and see a can
    of beans marked $1.50, you don’t normally try to negotiate with the supermarket manager. This is an
    efficient method of conducting business, but it is not negotiation. It is not interactive decision-making. Nor

    is there anything wrong after long negotiations to conclude them when you mean to do so by saying, “Take
    it or leave it,” except that you should probably phrase it more politely.

    As an alternative to explicitly recognizing the “Take it or leave it” tactic and negotiating about it,
    consider ignoring it at first. Keep talking as if you didn’t hear it, or change the subject, perhaps by
    introducing other solutions. If you do bring up the tactic specifically, let them know what they have to lose
    if no agreement is reached and look for a face-saving way, such as a change in circumstances, for them to
    get out of the situation. After management has announced its final offer, the union could tell them, “A $3.69
    per hour raise was your final offer before we discussed our cooperative efforts to make the plant more

    Don’t be a victim

    It is often hard to decide what it means to negotiate in “good faith.” People draw the line in different
    places. It may help to ask yourself such questions as: Is this an approach I would use in dealing with a
    good friend or a member of my family? If a full account of what I said and did appeared in the media,
    would I be embarrassed? In literature, would such conduct be more appropriate for a hero or a villain?
    These questions are not intended to bring external opinion to bear so much as to shed light on your own
    internal values. You must decide on your own whether you want to use tactics you would consider
    improper and in bad faith if used against you.

    It may be useful at the beginning of the negotiation to say, “Look, I know this may be unusual, but I
    want to know the rules of the game we’re going to play. Are we both trying to reach a wise agreement as
    quickly and with as little effort as possible? Or are we going to play ‘hard bargaining’ where the more
    stubborn fellow wins?” Whatever you do, be prepared to fight tricky bargaining tactics. You can be just as
    firm as they can, even firmer. It is easier to defend principle than an illegitimate tactic. Don’t be a victim.


    In Conclusion

    Three points.

    You knew it all the time
    There is probably nothing in this book that you did not already know at some level of your experience.
    What we have tried to do is to organize common sense and common experience in a way that provides a
    usable framework for thinking and acting. The more consistent these ideas are with your knowledge and
    intuition the better. In teaching this method to skilled lawyers and businesspeople with years of
    experience, we have been told, “Now I know what I have been doing, and why it sometimes works” and
    “I knew what you were saying was right because I knew it already.”

    Learn from doing
    A book can point you in a promising direction. By making you aware of ideas and aware of what you are
    doing, it can help you learn.

    No one, however, can make you skillful but yourself. Reading a pamphlet on the Royal Canadian Air
    Force fitness program will not make you physically fit. Studying books on tennis, swimming, riding a
    bicycle, or riding a horse will not make you an expert. Negotiation is no different.

    In 1964 an American father and his twelve-year-old son were enjoying a beautiful Saturday in Hyde Park,
    London, playing catch with a Frisbee. Few in England had seen a Frisbee at that time and a small group of
    strollers gathered to watch this strange sport. Finally, one homburg-clad Englishman came over to the
    father: “Sorry to bother you. Been watching you a quarter of an hour. Who’s winning?”

    In most instances to ask a negotiator “Who’s winning?” is as inappropriate as to ask who’s winning a
    marriage. If you ask that question about your marriage, you have already lost the more important
    negotiation—the one about what kind of game to play, about the way you deal with each other and your
    shared and differing interests.

    This book is about how to “win” that important game—how to achieve a better process for dealing
    with your differences. To be better, the process must, of course, produce good substantive results; winning
    on the merits may not be the only goal, but certainly losing is not the answer. Both theory and experience
    suggest that the method of principled negotiation will produce over the long run substantive outcomes as
    good as or better than you are likely to obtain using any other negotiation strategy. In addition, it should

    prove more efficient and less costly to human relationships. We find the method comfortable to use and
    hope you will too.

    That does not mean it is easy to change habits, to disentangle emotions from the merits, or to enlist
    others in the task of working out a wise solution to a shared problem. From time to time you may want to
    remind yourself that the first thing you are trying to win is a better way to negotiate—a way that avoids
    your having to choose between the satisfactions of getting what you deserve and of being decent. You can
    have both.


    Questions About Fairness and “Principled” Negotiation
    1. “Does positional bargaining ever make sense?”
    2. “What if the other side believes in a different standard of fairness?”
    3. “Should I be fair if I don’t have to be?”

    Questions About Dealing with People
    4. “What do I do if the people are the problem?”
    5. “Should I negotiate even with terrorists or someone like Hitler? When does it make sense
    not to negotiate?”
    6. “How should I adjust my negotiating approach to account for differences of personality,
    gender, culture, and so on?”

    Questions About Tactics
    7. “How do I decide things like ‘Where should we meet?’ ‘How should we communicate?’
    ‘Who should make the first offer?’ and ‘How high should I start?’”
    8. “Concretely, how do I move from inventing options to making commitments?”
    9. “How do I try out these ideas without taking too much risk?”

    Questions About Power
    10. “Can the way I negotiate really make a difference if the other side is more powerful?”
    And “How do I enhance my negotiating power?”

    Ten Questions People Ask About Getting to YES


    Question 1: “Does positional bargaining ever make sense?”
    Positional bargaining is easy, so it is not surprising that people often do it. It requires no preparation, it is
    universally understood (sometimes you can even do it with fingers when you and the other side do not
    share a common language), and in some contexts it is entrenched and expected. In contrast, looking behind
    positions for interests, inventing options for mutual gain, and finding and using objective criteria take hard
    work and, when the other side seems recalcitrant, emotional restraint and maturity.

    In virtually every case, the outcome will be better for both sides with principled negotiation. The
    issue is whether it is worth the extra effort. Here are some questions to consider:

    How important is it to avoid an arbitrary outcome? If, like the house builder in Chapter 5, you are
    negotiating over how deep to build your home’s foundations, you will not want to haggle over arbitrary
    positions no matter how much easier it might be to reach agreement. Even if you are negotiating for a one-
    of-a-kind antique chamber pot, where objective standards will be hard to find, exploring the dealer’s
    interests and looking for creative options is probably a good idea. Still, one factor to consider in choosing
    a negotiating approach is how much you care about finding an answer to the problem that makes sense on
    the merits. The stakes would be much higher if you were negotiating over the foundations for an office
    building than those for a tool shed. They will also be higher if this transaction will set a precedent for
    future transactions.

    How complex are the issues? The more complex the subject matter, the more unwise it is to engage
    in positional bargaining. Complexity calls for careful analysis of interests that are shared or that can be
    creatively dovetailed, and then for brainstorming. Both will be easier to the extent the parties see
    themselves as engaged in joint problem-solving.

    How important is it to maintain a good working relationship? If the other side is a valued customer
    or client, maintaining your ongoing relationship may be more important to you than the outcome of any one
    deal. This does not mean you should be less persistent in pursuing your interests, but it does suggest
    avoiding tactics such as threats or ultimatums that involve a high risk of damage to the relationship.
    Negotiation on the merits helps avoid a choice between giving in or angering the other side.

    In single-issue negotiations among strangers where the transaction costs of exploring interests would
    be high and where each side is protected by competitive opportunities, simple haggling over positions
    may work fine. But if the discussion starts to bog down, be prepared to change gears. Start clarifying the
    underlying interests.

    You should also consider the effect of this negotiation on your relationship with others. Is this
    negotiation likely to affect your reputation as a negotiator and, consequently, how others approach
    negotiating with you? If so, what effect would you like it to have?

    What are the other side’s expectations, and how hard would they be to change? In many labor-
    management and other contexts, the parties have a long history of hard-fought and almost ritualistic
    positional bargaining. Each side sees the other as “the enemy” and the situation as zero-sum, ignoring the
    enormous shared costs of strikes, lockouts, and bad feelings. In these situations it is not easy to establish
    joint problem-solving, yet it may be correspondingly more important. Even parties that would like to

    change often find it hard in practice to shed old habits: to listen instead of attacking, to brainstorm instead
    of quarreling, and to explore interests before making a commitment. Some parties locked into adversarial
    ruts seem unable to consider alternative approaches until they reach the brink of mutual annihilation, and
    some not even then. In such contexts you will want to set a realistic timetable for change that may span
    several complete negotiations. It took General Motors and the United Auto Workers four contracts to
    change the fundamental structure of their negotiations, and there remain constituents on each side who are
    not yet comfortable with the new regime.

    Where are you in the negotiation? Bargaining over positions tends to inhibit looking for joint gains.
    In many negotiations, the parties end up with outcomes that “leave a lot of gold on the table.” Bargaining
    over positions does the least harm if it comes after you have identified each other’s interests, invented
    options for mutual gain, and discussed relevant standards of fairness.

    Question 2: “What if the other side believes in a different standard of fairness?”
    In most negotiations there will be no one “right” or “fairest” answer; people will advance different
    standards by which to judge what is fair. Yet using external standards improves on haggling in three ways:
    An outcome informed even by conflicting standards of fairness and community practice is likely to be
    wiser than an arbitrary result. Using standards reduces the costs of “backing down”—it is easier to agree
    to follow a principle or independent standard than to give in to the other side’s positional demand. And
    finally, unlike arbitrary positions, some standards are more persuasive than others.

    In a negotiation between a young lawyer and a Wall Street law firm over salary, for example, it would
    be absurd for the hiring partner to say, “I don’t suppose you think you are any smarter than I am, so we’ll
    offer you the same salary I made when I started out forty years ago—$24,000.” The young lawyer would
    point out the impact of inflation over the intervening years and suggest using current salaries. If the partner
    proposed using the current salaries for young lawyers in Dayton or Des Moines, the young lawyer would
    point out that the average salary for young lawyers in similarly prestigious Manhattan firms was a more
    appropriate standard.

    Explore how conflicting standards have developed. Usually one standard will be more persuasive
    than another to the extent that it is more directly on point, more widely accepted, and more immediately
    relevant in terms of time, place, and circumstance. When that isn’t obvious, it is helpful to ask why and
    how conflicting standards have developed. Is the market in transition, for example, in the midst of
    evolving to a new structure with different expectations and standards? Or are two traditions converging?
    By understanding the logic and history of how standards have developed, you can better argue which are
    more appropriate in your situation. In many industries, for example, the advent of the Internet has undercut
    the traditional role of local distributors, with many buyers wanting to buy online or direct from
    manufacturers. Traditional standards of a reasonable distributor profit margin are in sharp conflict with
    competitive market prices, leading to new conversations about the value of service and local access.
    Over time, distributors evolve their business models or go out of business.

    Agreement on the “best” standard is not necessary. Differences in values, culture, experience, and
    perceptions may well lead parties to disagree about the relative merits of different standards. If it were
    necessary to agree on which standard was “best,” settling a negotiation might not be possible. But
    agreement on criteria is not necessary. Criteria are just one tool that may help the parties find an
    agreement better for both than no agreement. Using external standards often helps narrow the range of
    disagreement and may help expand the area of potential agreement. When standards have been refined to
    the point that it is difficult to argue persuasively that one standard is more applicable than another, the
    parties can explore trade-offs or resort to fair procedures to settle the remaining differences. They can

    flip a coin, use an arbitrator, or even split the difference.

    Question 3: “Should I be fair if I don’t have to be?”
    Getting to YES is not a sermon on the morality of right and wrong; it is a book on how to do well in a
    negotiation. We do not suggest that you should be good for the sake of being good (nor do we discourage
    it).[4] We do not suggest that you give in to the first offer that is arguably within the realm of fairness. Nor
    do we suggest that you never ask for more than what a judge or jury might think is fair. We argue only that
    using independent standards to discuss the fairness of a proposal is an idea that can help you get what you
    deserve and protect you from getting taken.

    If you want more than you can justify as fair and find that you are regularly able to persuade others to
    give it to you, you may not find some of the suggestions in this book all that useful. But the negotiators we
    meet more often fear getting less than they should in a negotiation, or damaging a relationship if they press
    firmly for what they do deserve. The ideas in this book are meant to show you how to get what you are
    entitled to while still getting along with the other side.

    Nevertheless, sometimes you may have an opportunity to get more than you think would be fair. Should
    you take it? In our opinion, not without careful thought. More is at stake than just a choice about your
    moral self-definition. (That too probably deserves careful thought, but advising in that realm is not our
    purpose here.) Presented with the opportunity to get more than you think is fair, you should weigh the
    possible benefits against the potential costs of accepting the windfall:

    How much is the difference worth to you? What is the most that you could justify to yourself as fair?
    Just how important to you is the excess above that standard? Weigh this benefit against the risk of
    incurring some of the costs listed below, and then consider whether there might not be better options. (For
    example, could the proposed transaction be structured so that the other side sees themselves as doing you
    a favor rather than getting ripped off?)

    It would also be wise to consider how certain you are of these potential benefits. Might you be
    overlooking something? Is the other side really so blind? Many negotiators are overly optimistic in
    assuming that they are more clever than their counterparts.

    Will the unfair result be durable? If the other side later concludes that an agreement is unfair, they
    may be unwilling to carry it out. What would it cost to try to enforce the agreement or to replace it?
    Courts may refuse to enforce an agreement found to be “unconscionable.”

    You should also consider where you are in the negotiation. There is no value in a super-favorable
    tentative agreement if the other side wakes up and repudiates it before it becomes final. And if the other
    side concludes from the incident that you are an untrustworthy lout out to take advantage of them, the cost
    may not be limited to this provision of this agreement.

    What damage might the unfair result cause to this or other relationships? How likely is it that you
    will find yourself negotiating with this same party again? If you did, what might be the risks for you if they
    were “out for revenge”? How about your reputation with other people, especially your reputation for fair
    dealing? Might it be adversely affected more than would offset your immediate gain?

    A well-established reputation for fair dealing can be an extraordinary asset. It opens up a large realm
    of creative agreements that would be impossible if others did not trust you. Such a reputation is much
    easier to destroy than to build.

    Will your conscience bother you? Are you likely later to regret the agreement, believing that you
    took unfair advantage of someone? Consider the tourist who bought a beautiful Kashmir rug from the
    family who had labored for a full year to make it. He cleverly offered to pay in German currency, then
    offered worthless bills from the inflationary pre-WWII Weimar period. Only when he told the story to

    shocked friends back home did he begin to think about what he had done to this family. In time, the very
    sight of his beautiful rug turned his stomach. Like this tourist, many people find that they care about more
    in life than money and “beating” the other side.


    Question 4: ‘‘What do I do if the people are the problem?”
    Some people have interpreted the admonition “Separate the people from the problem” to mean sweep
    people problems under the rug. This is emphatically not what we mean. People problems often require
    more attention than substantive ones. The human propensity for defensive and reactive behavior is one
    reason so many negotiations fail when agreement would otherwise make sense. In negotiation you ignore
    people issues—how you are treating the other side—at your peril. Our basic advice is the same whether
    people problems are one concern or the main focus of your negotiation:

    Build a working relationship independent of agreement or disagreement. The more seriously you
    disagree with someone, the more important it is that you be able to deal well with that disagreement. A
    good working relationship is one that can cope with differences. Such a relationship cannot be bought by
    making substantive concessions or by pretending that disagreements do not exist. Experience suggests that
    appeasement does not often work. Making an unjustified concession now is unlikely to make it easier to
    deal with future differences. You may think that next time it is their turn to make a concession; they are
    likely to believe that if they are stubborn enough, you will again give in. (Neville Chamberlain’s
    agreement to German occupation of the Sudetenland and the lack of military response to Hitler’s
    subsequent occupation of all of Czechoslovakia probably encouraged the Nazis to believe that an invasion
    of Poland would also not lead to war.)

    Nor should you try to coerce a substantive concession by threatening the relationship. (“If you really
    cared for me, you would give in.” “Unless you agree with me, our relationship is through.”) Whether or
    not such a ploy succeeds for the moment in obtaining a concession, it will damage the relationship. It will
    tend to make it more difficult for the two sides to deal well with future differences.

    Rather, substantive issues need to be disentangled from relationship and process issues. The content
    of a possible agreement needs to be separated from questions of how you talk about it and how you deal
    with the other side. Each set of issues needs to be negotiated on its own merits. The following list
    illustrates the distinction:

    Substantive Issues


    Relationship Issues

    Balance of emotion and reason

    Ease of communication
    Degree of trust and reliability
    Attitude of acceptance (or rejection)
    Relative emphasis on persuasion (or coercion)
    Degree of mutual understanding

    People often assume that there is a trade-off between pursuing a good substantive outcome and
    pursuing a good relationship. We disagree. A good working relationship tends to make it easier to get
    good substantive outcomes (for both sides). Good substantive outcomes tend to make a good relationship
    even better.

    Sometimes there may be good reasons to agree, even when you believe fairness would dictate
    otherwise. For example, if you already have an excellent working relationship, you may well decide to
    give in on an issue, confident that on some future occasion the other person will recognize that they “owe
    you one” and reciprocate the favor. (But make sure they also see what you are doing as a favor.) Or you
    may reasonably decide that one or more issues are not worth fighting over, all things considered. Our
    point is that you should not give in for the purpose of trying to improve a relationship.

    Negotiate the relationship. If, despite your efforts to establish a working relationship and to
    negotiate substantive differences on their merits, people problems still stand in the way, negotiate them—
    on their merits. Raise your concerns about the other side’s behavior and discuss them as you would a
    substantive difference. Avoid judging them or impugning their motivations. Rather, explain your
    perceptions and feelings and inquire into theirs. Propose external standards or fair principles to determine
    how you should deal with each other and decline to give in to pressure tactics. Frame your discussion as
    looking forward, not back, and operate on the assumptions that the other side may not intend all the
    consequences you experience and that they can change their approach if they see the need.

    As always in negotiation, you need to have thought through your BATNA. In some cases the other side
    may come to appreciate that your concerns are a shared problem only when they realize that your
    BATNA, in the event you fail to reach a solution satisfactory to you, is not very good for them.

    Distinguish how you treat them from how they treat you. There is no need to emulate
    unconstructive behavior. Doing so may indeed “teach them a lesson,” though often not the lesson we
    would like. In most cases responding in kind reinforces the behavior we dislike. It encourages the other
    side to feel that everyone behaves that way and that it is the only way to protect themselves. Our behavior
    should be designed to model and encourage the behavior we would prefer and to avoid any reward for the
    behavior we dislike, both without compromising our substantive interests.

    Deal rationally with apparent irrationality. Much—perhaps most—behavior in the world is not very
    rational. As we say in Chapter 2, negotiators are people first. We often act impulsively or react without
    careful thought, especially when we are angry, afraid, or frustrated. And we all know people who seem
    just plain irrational no matter the situation. How do you cope with such behavior?

    First, recognize that, while people often do not negotiate rationally, it is worth trying to yourself. In a
    mental hospital, we do not want psychotic doctors. Likewise, in coping with the irrationality of other
    negotiators, you would like to be as purposive as possible.

    Second, question your assumption that others are acting irrationally. Perhaps they see the situation
    differently. In most conflicts, each side believes that they are reasonably saying “no” to what they hear the
    other demanding. Perhaps they hear your well-padded opening position as unjustifiable on the merits;
    perhaps they value things differently; or there may be a communication failure.

    Sometimes people do hold views that many of us think are objectively “irrational,” such as people

    who fear flying. Internally, however, these people are reacting rationally to the world as they see it. At
    some level, they believe that this plane will crash. If we believed that, we would not fly either. It is the
    perception that is skewed, not the response to that perception. Neither telling such people that they are
    wrong (with however many scientific studies) nor punishing them for their beliefs is likely to change how
    they feel. On the other hand, if you inquire empathetically, taking their feelings seriously and trying to
    trace their reasoning to its roots, it is sometimes possible to effect change. Working with them, you may
    discover a logical leap, a factual misperception, or a traumatic association from an earlier time that, once
    brought to light, can be examined and modified by the people themselves. In essence, you are looking for
    the psychological interests behind their position, to help them find a way to meet more of their interests
    more effectively.

    Question 5: “Should I negotiate even with terrorists or someone like Hitler? When does
    it make sense not to negotiate?”
    However unsavory the other side, unless you have a better BATNA, the question you face is not whether
    to negotiate, but how.

    Negotiate with terrorists? Yes. In fact, in the sense that you are trying to influence their decisions—
    and they are trying to influence yours—you are negotiating with them even if you are not talking with
    them. The question is whether to do so at a distance by actions and words (such as “We will never
    negotiate with terrorists!”) or whether to do so more directly. In general, the better the communication, the
    better your chance to exert influence. If questions of personal safety can be resolved, it might make sense
    to establish a dialogue with terrorists, whether they are holding hostages or threatening some act of
    violence. If you have a good case, you are more likely to influence them than they are to influence you.
    (The same arguments apply to dealing with negotiation “terrorists,” who try to use dirty tricks.)

    Negotiation does not mean giving in. There are high costs in paying ransom or blackmail. Rewarding
    kidnapping encourages more kidnapping. Through communication it may be possible to convince
    terrorists (and possible future terrorists) that they will not receive a ransom. It may also be possible to
    learn of some legitimate interests they have and to work out an arrangement in which neither side gives in.

    With the help of Algerian mediators, the United States and Iran were able to negotiate the release in
    January 1981 of the American diplomats who had been held for more than a year in the U.S. embassy in
    Tehran. The basis of the settlement was that each side got no more than that to which they were entitled:
    The hostages would be released; Iran would pay its debts; when those amounts were settled, the balance
    of the funds seized by the United States would be returned to Iran; the United States would recognize the
    government of Iran and would not interfere in its internal affairs; and so on. It would have been difficult if
    not impossible to work out a settlement without negotiation. And despite the gross illegality of the seizure
    of the U.S. embassy, both sides benefited from the negotiations that finally took place in the fall of 1980.

    It is sometimes said that officials should refuse to talk with political terrorists because to do so would
    confer status and reward their illegal action. It is true that for a high government official to meet with
    terrorists might well appear to enhance the terrorists’ importance to an extent that outweighs the potential
    gain. But contact at a professional level may be quite different. Urban police negotiators have learned that
    direct personal dialogue with criminals who are holding hostages frequently results in the hostages being
    released and the criminals being taken into custody.

    During the 1988 hijacking of Kuwait Airways Flight 422, extensive negotiations occurred with the
    hijackers but over increasingly small issues. The government of Kuwait said flatly at the beginning of the
    incident that they would not release the hijackers’ comrades, who were in jail in Kuwait after having been
    convicted of terrorist acts, and the government never retreated from that fundamental principle. But local

    authorities in Cyprus and Algeria negotiated incessantly over things like permission for the plane to land,
    requests for additional fuel, access to news media, and deliveries of food. For each transaction these
    authorities successfully obtained the release of more hostages. At the same time, they appealed—as
    fellow Muslims—to Islamic ideals of mercy and the Prophet Muhammed’s admonitions against the taking
    of hostages. Eventually all the hostages were released. The hijackers were also allowed to leave Algeria,
    but their prolonged and embarrassing failure to achieve any of their announced goals no doubt contributed
    to a subsequent reduction in terrorist hijackings.

    Negotiate with someone like Hitler? It depends on the alternative. Some interests you have may be
    worth fighting and even dying for. Many of us feel that ridding the world of fascism, standing up to
    territorial aggression, and putting a stop to genocide fall into that category. If such interests are at stake
    and cannot be met by less costly means, you should be prepared to fight if that will help, and—some will
    say—sometimes even if it won’t.

    On the other hand, war is a nasty business, too often romanticized. If you can achieve a substantial
    measure of your interests through nonviolent means, you should give that option serious consideration.
    Few wars are as one-sided as the United Nations liberation of Kuwait. Even there, a negotiated
    withdrawal of Iraqi forces from Kuwait might have avoided the oil fires in Kuwait, the environmental
    damage to the Persian Gulf, and the enormous human suffering caused by the war.

    Most important, war offers no guarantee of results better than could be achieved by other means. As
    premier of the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin was in many ways as objectionable to the world as Hitler had
    been. He committed a variety of territorial aggressions, engaged in genocide, and promoted a state-
    centered ideology that in practice looked a lot like National Socialism. But in an age of hydrogen bombs,
    conquering the Soviet Union as the Allies had conquered Germany in World War II was no longer a viable
    option. Nor did the principles at stake seem to justify mutual annihilation. Instead, the West waited,
    patient and steadfast in its moral opposition to Soviet communism, until it collapsed of its own accord.

    Even with someone like Hitler or Stalin, we should consider negotiating if negotiation holds the
    promise of achieving an outcome that, all things considered, meets our interests better than our BATNA.
    [5] When a war does occur, in many cases it is actually a move within a negotiation. The violence is
    intended to change the other side’s BATNA, or their perception of it, so that they will more readily agree
    to our terms for peace. In such cases thinking in negotiation terms is vital so that we do not neglect to craft
    and communicate our offer in ways that we can reasonably expect will be persuasive to the other side.

    Negotiate when people are acting out of religious conviction? Yes. Although people’s religious
    convictions are unlikely to be changed through negotiation, the actions they take, even those based on their
    convictions, may be subject to influence. Such was the case with the Kuwait Airways hijacking. A key
    point, worth repeating, is that negotiating does not require compromising your principles. More often
    success is achieved by finding a solution that is arguably consistent with each side’s principles.

    Many situations only appear to be “religious” conflicts. The conflict in Northern Ireland between
    Protestants and Catholics, like the conflict in Lebanon between Christians and Muslims, is not over
    religion. In each case, religion serves as a handy boundary line for dividing one group from another. That
    cleavage is reinforced as it is used to divide where people live, where they work, who their friends are,
    and for whom they vote. Negotiation between such groups is highly desirable, as it improves the chance
    that they will be able to reach pragmatic accommodations that are to their mutual interest.

    When does it make sense not to negotiate? Whether it makes sense to negotiate and how much
    effort to put into it depends on how satisfactory you find your BATNA and how likely you think it is that
    negotiation will produce better results. If your BATNA is fine and negotiation looks unpromising, there is
    no reason to invest much time in negotiation. On the other hand, if your BATNA is awful, you should be

    willing to invest a little more time—even where negotiation looks unpromising—to test whether
    something more satisfactory might be worked out.

    To do this analysis, you need to have thought carefully about your BATNA and the other side’s. You
    should not make the mistake of the bank that was negotiating with a bankrupt energy company. Legally, the
    bank was entitled to take over ownership of the entire company, but the judge in the case said that he
    wanted the parties to settle. The bank offered to take 51 percent of the stock and reduce the interest on the
    loan, but the company (owned by management) stonewalled. Frustrated, the bank spent months trying to
    get the company to show an interest in negotiating. Understandably, the company refused—the company
    saw their BATNA as merely waiting for oil prices to rise. At that point they could pay off their loan and
    they would still own 100 percent of their company. The bank had failed to think clearly either about their
    own BATNA or the company’s. The bank should have been negotiating with the judge, explaining how
    this situation was unfair and appealable. (Indeed, once the bank successfully enlisted the judge’s help—
    appealing to his interest in not having to hear the case—the company settled within twenty-four hours.)
    But the bank thought negotiating with the company was its only choice.

    Governments often make the mistake of assuming that they have a better BATNA than they do—for
    example, when they imply that if “political” and “economic” means fail in a given situation, then there is
    always “the military option.” There is not always a viable military option. (Consider most hostage
    situations, in which there is no military option that can realistically promise the hostages’ safe retrieval.
    Successful rescue raids like that of the Israeli military on the Ugandan airport at Entebbe—an airport
    designed and built by Israeli engineers—are exceptional and become more difficult with each success, as
    terrorists adapt to new tactics.) Whether or not we have a self-help option depends on the situation: Can
    the objective be achieved solely through our own efforts, or will someone on the other side have to make
    a decision? If the latter, then whose decision will we have to influence, what decision do we want, and
    how, if at all, could military force help influence that decision?’

    Don’t assume that you have a BATNA better than negotiating or that you don’t. Think it through. Then
    decide whether negotiating makes sense.

    Question 6: “How should I adjust my negotiating approach to account for differences of
    personality, gender, culture, and so on?”
    In some ways people everywhere are similar to one another. We want to be loved, we care about the
    respect of other people and of ourselves, and we do not like to feel taken advantage of. In other ways,
    people—even those of similar background—are quite different. Some of us are outgoing, others shy; some
    verbal and logic-chopping, others more physical and emotive; some people are blunt, others more indirect
    and tactful; some relish conflict, others will do almost anything to avoid it. As negotiators, different
    people will have different interests and styles of communication. Different things may be persuasive to
    them, and they may have different ways of making decisions. How should we accommodate such
    similarities and differences in negotiating with different people? Here are some suggested guidelines:

    Get in step. In any negotiation it is highly desirable to be sensitive to the values, perceptions,
    concerns, norms of behavior, and mood of those with whom you are dealing. Adapt your behavior
    accordingly. If you are negotiating with someone, it is that person whom you are trying to affect. The more
    successfully you can get in step with that person’s way of thinking, the more likely you are to be able to
    work out an agreement. Some common differences that can make a difference in negotiation include the

    Pacing: fast or slow?

    Formality: high or low?
    Physical proximity while talking: close or distant?
    Oral or written agreements: which are more binding and inclusive?
    Bluntness of communication: direct or indirect?
    Time frame: short-term or longer?
    Scope of relationship: business-only or all-encompassing?
    The expected place of doing business: private or public?
    Who negotiates: equals in status or the most competent people for the task?
    Rigidity of commitments: written in stone or meant to be flexible?

    Adapt our general advice to the specific situation. This is a book of general advice. It will not
    apply in the same way in every circumstance with every person. But the basic propositions are generally
    applicable. Absent a compelling reason to do otherwise, we advise crafting your specific approach to
    every negotiation around them. The best way to implement these general principles will depend on the
    specific context. Consider where you are, with whom you are dealing, customs of the industry, past
    experience with this negotiator, and so on, in crafting an approach to fit the situation.

    Pay attention to differences of belief and custom, but avoid stereotyping individuals. Different
    groups and places have different customs and beliefs. Know and respect them, but beware of making
    assumptions about individuals.

    The attitudes, interests, and other characteristics of an individual are often quite different from those
    of a group to which they may belong. For example, the “average” Japanese tends to favor more indirect
    methods of communication and negotiation, but individual Japanese span the full gamut of negotiating
    styles. One prominent, long-time minister in the Japanese government was famous for his brash
    “American-style” negotiating—which is not at all typical of many Americans. Some research suggests that
    women are more likely than men to gather information in a more open and less structured way, to be more
    sensitive to relationships, and to operate on a morality that is based proportionately more on caring and
    obligation to others and less on rules and individual rights. These same data, however, suggest that there
    are a great many individuals of each sex who tend the other way.[6]

    Making assumptions about someone based on their group characteristics is insulting, as well as
    factually risky. It denies that person his or her individuality. We do not assume that our beliefs and habits
    are dictated by the groups in which we happen to fit; to imply as much of others is demeaning. Each of us
    is affected by myriad aspects of our environment and upbringing, our culture and group identity, but in no
    individually predictable way.

    Question your assumptions; listen actively. Whatever assumption you make about others—whether
    you assume they are just like you or totally different—question it. Be open to learning that they are quite
    unlike what you expected. The wide variations among cultures provide clues as to the kind of differences
    for which you should be looking, but remember that all of us have special interests and qualities that do
    not fit any standard mold.


    Question 7: “How do I decide things like ‘Where should we meet?’ ‘How should we
    communicate?’ ‘Who should make the first offer?’ and ‘How high should I start?’”
    Before a doctor can answer such questions as what pill to take and what food to avoid, he or she will

    want to learn about the patient’s symptoms and diagnose possible causes. Only then can the doctor
    develop a general strategy for better health. The same is true for specialists in negotiation. We have no
    all-purpose patent medicines. Good tactical advice requires knowledge of specific circumstances.

    This can be illustrated by considering four specific examples:
    Where should we meet? What are we worried about? If both parties tend to be extremely busy and

    subject to constant interruptions, seclusion may be the most important consideration. If the other person
    tends to feel insecure or in need of staff support, perhaps they would be more comfortable meeting in their
    office. You may also want to meet in the other party’s office if you would like to feel free to walk away.
    Are there charts, files, or technical experts that you might want to be able to consult during the
    negotiation? If you want to be free to use flip charts, a whiteboard, or an overhead projector, you may
    want to meet in a conference room that has such facilities.

    How should we communicate? Today many negotiations are conducted by phone, email, or text, and
    the interaction can be quite different than meeting face-to-face. The short length and abbreviations used in
    texting greatly increase the likelihood of unintended misunderstandings. The lack of audio and visual cues
    in texts and email make it much harder to hear or interpret the emotional undertones of communication,
    which can feed our tendency to hear the worst. Furthermore, not having another person in front of us
    reduces or eliminates the impact of “mirror neurons” in our brain, which normally increase our empathy
    and sense of human connection with our counterpart.

    One study suggests the potential impact of these differences: In a negotiation where only sellers knew
    what an item was worth, the results varied dramatically based on the mode of communication. In face-to-
    face interactions, only a small minority of sellers lied and took advantage. But in written interactions a
    third did and in phone negotiations more than half did. Meanwhile, buyers were appropriately wary in
    written interactions, but generally trusting in face-to-face and phone negotiations, leading many telephone
    buyers to be seriously disadvantaged. Almost 60 percent of face-to-face negotiations resulted in mutually
    beneficial agreements, while only 22 percent did in written interactions and 38 percent in telephone
    negotiations. Meanwhile, more than half of the written interactions resulted in impasse, while only 19
    percent of the face-to-face talks and 14 percent of the telephone negotiations did.[7]

    What are the implications of such differences for strategy? First, difficult conversations involving
    emotions or relationship issues are best pursued face-to-face, if at all possible, and definitely not by
    email or text. If a phone call is the only option, consider using a Webcam and an Internet service to make
    it a video call.

    When you are on the phone, and especially when you are using email or texts, make an effort to create
    some personal connection before diving into substance. Studies show that a little effort up front to
    schmooze—to learn and share something personal, to evoke an existing relationship or shared identity, or
    to find a shared connection—helps promote cooperation and increases the chances of agreement. With
    email or a text, reread your message one or more times before sending. Put in a little extra effort to make
    the context and your reasoning transparent. Look for ambiguities and ask yourself how the other party
    could hear something different from what you intend. Then, if a reply suggests that your message has
    possibly generated a bad or unexpected reaction, consider changing your mode of communication before
    continuing. Walk down the hall, or pick up the phone.

    Even if the bulk of your communication needs to be on email, try to have an initial meeting in person
    or on the phone, and schedule periodic check-ins in the same mode, to create and maintain a level of
    human connection. It also helps to make some procedural agreements that anticipate possible difficulties.
    For example, you may want to make a mutual promise to raise even tentative concerns early, in person or
    by phone, and to raise them as fears, fantasies, or hypotheses, rather than as accusations.

    Of course, there are occasions where using the phone, email, or texting may be advantageous. Many
    people find it easier to be less accommodating on the phone, for example, and to ask tougher questions.
    Research suggests that people pay closer attention to content in the absence of other interpersonal
    information, and that strong arguments may have more effect by email than face-to-face. Email also allows
    time for reflection and research before answering, which can help you avoid making unwise decisions
    under pressure. (Texting, in contrast, tends to move faster and can give “fast talkers” an undeserved edge.)

    As always, the choice of how to communicate is something that should emerge from careful
    preparation, taking into account these kinds of considerations.

    Who should make the first offer? It would be a mistake to assume that making an offer is always the
    best way to put a figure on the table. Usually you will want to explore interests, options, and criteria for a
    while before making an offer. Making an offer too soon can make the other side feel railroaded. Once both
    sides have a sense of the problem, an offer that makes an effort to reconcile the interests and standards
    that have been advanced is more likely to be received as a constructive step forward. (Without that
    groundwork, even a generous offer may be seen suspiciously as a result of what social psychologists call
    “reactive devaluation”: If you are offering it, it must not be good for me.[8])

    Whether or not you make an offer, you may want to try to “anchor” the discussion early around an
    approach or standard favorable to you. On the other hand, if you are ill prepared and have no idea what
    would be reasonable, you will probably be reluctant to put an idea or an offer on the table, perhaps
    hoping that the other side will go first and offer something generous. But you should be careful. It is
    extremely risky to measure the value of an item by the other side’s first proposal or figure. If you know
    that little about an item’s value, you should probably engage in more research before starting the

    The better prepared both parties are in a negotiation over price, the less difference it makes who
    makes the first offer. Rather than learning rules about who should make the first offer, it would be better to
    learn the rule of being well prepared with external measures of value.

    How high should I start? Many people tend to measure success by how far the other party has moved.
    Even if the first figure is a wholly arbitrary assertion of “sticker price” or “retail value,” buyers will
    often feel happy about getting something for less. They have not checked the market. They do not know
    what their best alternative would cost, so they derive satisfaction from paying less than the first “asking

    Under these circumstances, if you are selling, you would ordinarily start with the highest figure that
    you could justify without embarrassment. Another way to think of it is to start with the highest figure that
    you would try to persuade a neutral third party was fair. In putting forth such a figure you would first
    explain the reasoning and then give the number. (If they hear a number they don’t like, they may not listen
    to the reasoning.)

    Such an opening figure need not be advanced as a firm position. Indeed, the firmer you suggest early
    figures to be, the greater you damage your credibility as you move off them. It is safer and at least as
    effective to say something like “Well, one factor to consider would be what others are paying for
    comparable work. In New York, for example, they pay $58 an hour. How does that sound?” Here you
    have put out a standard and a figure without committing to it at all.

    Strategy depends on preparation. There are two generalizations about strategy worth passing along.
    First, in almost all cases, strategy is a function of preparation. If you are well prepared, a strategy will
    suggest itself. If you are well versed in the standards relevant to your negotiation, it will be obvious
    which ones to discuss and which ones the other side might raise. If you have thoroughly considered your
    interests, it will be clear which ones to mention early on and which ones to bring up later or not at all.

    And if you have formulated your BATNA in advance, you’ll know when it’s time to walk.
    Second, a clever strategy cannot make up for lack of preparation. If you formulate a step-by-step

    strategy that is sure to knock their socks off, you will run into trouble when they come into the negotiation
    wearing sandals. Your strategy might depend on discussing relationship issues at the beginning, but they
    might want to talk about BATNAs. Because you can never be sure what their strategy will be, it is far
    better to know the terrain than to plan on taking one particular path through the woods.

    Question 8: “Concretely, how do I move from inventing options to making
    We have offered a great deal of advice on how to develop wise, mutually satisfying options in negotiation
    and how to avoid or overcome a variety of people problems. The question remains, how do you reach
    closure on issues? We don’t believe that there is any one best process, but here are some general
    principles worth considering:

    Think about closure from the beginning. Before you even begin to negotiate, it makes sense to
    envision what a successful agreement might look like. This will help you figure out what issues will need
    to be dealt with in the negotiation and what it might take to resolve them. Imagine what it might be like to
    implement an agreement. What issues would need to be resolved? Then work backward. Ask yourself
    how the other side might successfully explain and justify an agreement to their constituents. (“We will be
    in the top 10 percent of all electrical workers in Ontario.” “We are paying less than the value given by
    two out of three appraisers.”) Think about what it will take for you to do the same. Then ask yourself what
    kind of an agreement would allow you both to say such things. Finally, think about what it might take to
    persuade the other side—and you—to accept a proposed agreement, rather than continuing to negotiate.

    Keep these questions in mind as your negotiation progresses, reshaping and filling in your vision as
    more information becomes available. Focusing on your goal in this way will help to keep your negotiation
    on a productive track.

    Consider crafting a framework agreement. In negotiations that will produce a written agreement, it
    is usually a good idea to sketch the outlines of what an agreement might look like as part of your
    preparation. Such a “framework agreement” is a document in the form of an agreement, but with blank
    spaces for each term to be resolved by negotiation. The standard purchase-and-sale form that is available
    from any real-estate broker is an example of a detailed framework agreement. In other cases nothing more
    than a list of headings may be appropriate. Working out a framework agreement, however detailed, will
    help ensure that important issues are not overlooked during the negotiation. Such an agreement can serve
    as a starting point and an agenda for the negotiation, helping you to use your time efficiently.

    Whether or not you start your negotiation with a framework agreement, it makes sense to draft possible
    terms of an agreement as you go. Working on a draft helps to keep discussions focused, tends to surface
    important issues that might otherwise be overlooked, and gives a sense of progress. Drafting as you go
    also provides a record of discussions, reducing the chance of later misunderstanding. If you are working
    with a framework agreement, drafting may involve no more than filling in the blanks as you discuss each
    term; or, if you have yet to reach consensus, it may involve drafting alternative provisions.

    Move toward commitment gradually. As the negotiation proceeds and you discuss options and
    standards for each issue, you should be seeking a consensus proposal that reflects all the points made and
    meets each side’s interests on that issue as well as possible. If you are as yet unable to reach consensus on
    a single option, try at least to narrow the range of options under consideration and then go on to another
    issue. Perhaps a better option or a trade-off possibility will occur later. (“All right. So perhaps something
    like $68,000 or $70,000 might make sense on salary. What about starting date?”)

    To encourage brainstorming, it is a good idea to agree explicitly that all commitments are tentative.
    This will allow you to have some sense of progress during your discussions, while avoiding the inhibiting
    effect of worrying that every option discussed may be heard as a commitment. Tentative commitments are
    fine and should not be changed without reason. But make clear that you are not firmly committing yourself
    to anything until you see the final package. At the top of a framework agreement, for example, you might
    write: “Tentative Draft—No Commitments.”

    The process of moving toward agreement is seldom linear. Be prepared to move through the list of
    issues several times, going back and forth between looking at particular issues and the total package.
    Difficult issues may be revisited frequently or set aside until the end, depending on whether incremental
    progress seems possible. Along the way, avoid demands or locking in. Instead, offer options and ask for
    criticism. (“What would you think of an agreement along the lines of this draft? I am not sure I could sell
    it to my people, but it might be in the ballpark. Could something like this work for you? If not, what would
    be wrong with it?”)

    Be persistent in pursuing your interests but not rigid in pursuing any particular solution. One way
    to be firm without being positional is to separate your interests from ways to meet them. When a proposal
    is challenged, don’t defend the proposal; rather explain again your underlying interests. Ask if the other
    side can think of a better way to meet those interests, as well as their own. If there appears to be an
    irresolvable conflict, ask if there is any reason why one side’s interests should have priority over the

    Unless the other side makes a persuasive case for why your thinking is incomplete and should be
    changed, stick to your analysis. When and if you are persuaded, modify your thinking accordingly,
    presenting the logic first. (“Well, that’s a good point. One way to measure that factor would be to . . . .”) If
    you have prepared well, you should have anticipated most arguments the other side might raise and
    thought through how you think they should affect the result.

    Throughout, the goal is to avoid useless quarreling. Where disagreements persist, seek second-order
    agreement—agreement on where you disagree. Make sure that each side’s interests and reasoning are
    clear. Seek differing assumptions and ways to test them. As always seek to reconcile conflicting interests
    with external standards or creative options. Seek to reconcile conflicting standards with criteria for
    evaluating which is more appropriate or with creative trade-offs. Be persistent.

    Make an offer. At some point clarifying interests, inventing options, and analyzing standards produce
    diminishing returns. Once an issue or group of issues is well explored, you should be prepared to make an
    offer. An early offer might be limited to the pairing of a couple of key issues. (“I would agree to a June 30
    closing if the down payment were not more than $50,000.”) Later, such partial offers can be combined
    into a more comprehensive proposal.

    Usually an offer should not come as a surprise. It should be a natural outgrowth of the discussion so
    far. It need not be a “take-it-or-leave-it” proposal, but neither should it be an opening position. It should
    be an offer that you think would make sense for both sides, given what has gone before. Many negotiations
    settle when a complete offer is made.

    You should give some thought to how and where you convey an offer. If discussions have been carried
    on publicly or in large groups, you may want to seek a more private occasion for exploring final
    commitments. Most agreements are made in one-on-one meetings between the top negotiators for each
    side, although formal closure may come later in a more public forum.

    If agreement makes sense but some issues remain stubbornly in dispute, look for fair procedures to
    facilitate closure. Splitting the difference between arbitrary figures produces an arbitrary result. But
    splitting the difference between figures that are each backed by legitimate and persuasive independent

    standards is one way to find a fair result. Another approach, where differences persist, is for one or both
    parties to invite a third party to talk with each side and, perhaps after repeated consultations, produce a
    final “last chance” recommendation.

    Be generous at the end. When you sense you are finally close to an agreement, consider giving the
    other side something you know to be of value to them and still consistent with the basic logic of your
    proposal. Make clear that this is a final gesture; you do not want to raise expectations of further
    concessions. Such an improved offer can sometimes break through any last-minute doubts and clinch the

    You want the other side to leave the negotiation feeling satisfied and fairly treated. That feeling can
    pay off handsomely in the implementation of an agreement as well as in future negotiations.

    Question 9: “How do I try out these ideas without taking too much risk?”
    Perhaps you are persuaded that this approach makes sense but are worried that you will not be able to
    execute it well enough to better the results of your current approach. What can you do to try out these
    ideas without taking too much risk?

    Start small. Experiment in negotiations where the stakes are small, where you have a good BATNA,
    where favorable objective standards are available and seem relevant, and where the other side is likely
    to be amenable to this approach. Start with ideas that build on your current skills, then try out new ideas
    one at a time. As you gain experience and confidence, slowly raise the stakes by trying new techniques in
    more significant and challenging contexts. You don’t have to try everything at once.

    Make an investment. Some people play tennis all their lives but never get better. Those people are
    not willing to take a fresh look at what they do or to consider changing it. Good players recognize that
    getting better often means making an investment in new approaches. For a while they may get worse as
    they wrestle with new and unfamiliar techniques, but eventually they surpass their old plateau. The new
    techniques offer more long-term potential. You need to do the same with negotiation.

    Review your performance. Schedule time to think about how you did after each significant
    negotiation. What worked? What did not? What might you have done differently? Consider keeping a
    negotiation journal or diary, which you can reread periodically.

    Prepare! Negotiation power, as discussed below, is not something of which you have a certain
    quantity that can be applied anywhere for any purpose. It requires hard work in advance to bring your
    resources to bear on being persuasive in a particular situation. In other words, it requires preparation.
    There is no risk in being well prepared. It simply takes time. The better prepared you are, the more likely
    you are to use these ideas and to find them of value.

    Plan how to build and maintain a good working relationship with the other side. Write out a list of
    your interests and the other side’s. Then invent a list of options that might satisfy as many of these interests
    as possible. Look for a variety of external benchmarks or criteria that might persuade a reasonable third
    party of what should be done. Ask yourself what arguments you would like to be able to make, and then
    see if you can’t find the facts and information you would need to make them. Also consider what
    benchmarks your counterpart might find persuasive in justifying an agreement to his or her constituents. If
    negotiators for the other side would find it difficult to justify terms to their constituents, agreement on
    those terms is unlikely. And consider what commitments you would like each side to make. Sketch out a
    possible framework agreement.

    In some cases you may want to ask a friend to help you role-play an upcoming negotiation, either by
    playing the other side or by playing you (after coaching) while you play the other side. (Assuming the role
    of the other side and listening from the receiving end to your own arguments is a powerful technique for

    testing your case.) You may also want to seek coaching from friends, more experienced negotiators, or
    professional negotiation consultants.

    In many ways, negotiation is like athletics: Some people have more natural talent, and like the best
    athletes, they may gain the most from preparation, practice, and coaching. Yet those with less natural
    talent have more need for preparation, practice, and feedback, and much to gain by it. Whichever you are,
    there is much to learn, and hard work will pay off. It is up to you.


    Question 10: “Can the way I negotiate really make a difference if the other side is more
    powerful?” And “How do I enhance my negotiating power?”
    How you negotiate (and how you prepare to negotiate) can make an enormous difference, whatever the
    relative strengths of each party.

    Some things you can’t get
    Of course, no matter how skilled you are, there are limits to what you can get through negotiation. The
    best negotiator in the world will not be able to buy the White House. You should not expect success in
    negotiation unless you are able to make the other side an offer they find more attractive than their BATNA
    —their Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement. If that seems impossible, then negotiation doesn’t
    make sense. Concentrate instead on improving your BATNA and perhaps changing theirs.

    How you negotiate makes a big difference
    In a situation where there is a chance for agreement, the way you negotiate can make the difference
    between coming to terms and not, or between an outcome that you find favorable and one that is merely
    acceptable. How you negotiate may determine whether the pie is expanded or merely divided, and
    whether you have a good relationship with the other side or a strained one. When the other side seems to
    hold all the cards, how you negotiate is absolutely critical. Suppose, for example, that you are negotiating
    for an exception to a rule or a job offer. Realistically, you may have little recourse if the other side denies
    your request and little to offer if they grant it. In this situation, your negotiation skill is everything.
    However small the opportunity for success, the way in which you negotiate will determine whether you
    are able to take advantage of it.

    “Resources” are not the same as “negotiation power”
    Negotiation power is the ability to persuade someone to do something. The United States is rich and has
    lots of nuclear bombs, but neither has been of much help in deterring terrorist actions or freeing hostages
    when they have been held in places like Beirut. Whether your resources give you negotiating power will
    depend on the context—on whom you are trying to persuade and what you want them to do.

    Don’t ask “Who’s more powerful?”
    Trying to estimate whether you or your counterparts are more “powerful” is risky. If you conclude that you
    are more powerful, you may relax and not prepare as well as you should. On the other hand, if you
    conclude that you are weaker than the other side, there is a risk that you will be discouraged and again not
    devote sufficient attention to how you might persuade them. Whatever you conclude will not help you
    figure out how best to proceed.

    In fact, a great deal can be done to enhance your negotiation power even when the resource balance is
    one-sided. Of course, there will be negotiations where, at least in the short term, the best cards are held
    by the other side. But in this increasingly interdependent world, there are almost always resources and
    potential allies that a skilled and persistent negotiator can exploit, at least to move the fulcrum, if not
    ultimately to tip the balance of power the other way. You won’t find out what’s possible unless you try.

    Sometimes people seem to prefer feeling powerless and believing that there is nothing they can do to
    affect a situation. That belief helps them avoid feeling responsible or guilty about inaction. It also avoids
    the costs of trying to change the situation—making an effort and risking failure, which might cause the
    person embarrassment. But while this feeling is understandable, it does not affect the reality of what the
    person might accomplish by effective negotiation. It is a self-defeating and self-fulfilling attitude.

    The best rule of thumb is to be optimistic—to let your reach exceed your grasp. Without wasting a lot
    of resources on hopeless causes, recognize that many things are worth trying for even if you may not
    succeed. The more you try for, the more you are likely to get. Studies of negotiation consistently show a
    strong correlation between aspiration and result. Within reason, it pays to think positively.

    There are many sources of negotiation power
    How do you enhance your negotiating power? This whole book is an attempt to answer that question.
    Negotiation power has many sources. One is having a good BATNA. Provided they believe you, it is
    persuasive to tell the other side that you have a better alternative. But each of the four elements of the
    method outlined in Part II of this book—people (the relationship), interests, options, and objective
    criteria—is also a source of negotiation power. If the other side is strong in one area, you can try to
    develop strength in another. To these five we would now add a sixth, the power of commitment, and
    seventh, the power of effective communication, including process management.

    There is power in developing a good working relationship between the people negotiating. If you
    understand the other side and they understand you; if emotions are acknowledged and people are treated
    with respect even when they disagree; if there is clear, two-way communication with good listening; if
    there is mutual trust and confidence in one another’s reliability; and if people problems are dealt with
    directly on their merits, not by demanding or offering concessions on substance, negotiations are likely to
    be smoother and more successful for both parties. In this sense, negotiation power is not a zero-sum
    phenomenon. More negotiation power for the other side does not necessarily mean less for you. The better
    your working relationship, the better able each of you is to influence the other.

    Contrary to some conventional wisdom, you will often benefit from the other side’s increasing their
    ability to influence you. Two people with well-deserved reputations for being trustworthy are each better
    able to influence the other than are two people with reputations for dishonesty. That you can trust the other
    side increases their ability to influence you. But you also benefit. You can safely enter into agreements that
    will benefit both sides.

    When the British ambassador to the United Nations, Lord Caradon, was seeking agreement on a
    Security Council resolution to set a framework for peace in the Middle East after the 1967 war, it
    appeared he had consensus except for the Soviet vote. The Soviet representative, Vasily Kuznetsov,
    approached Caradon to request a delay in the vote for two days. Caradon resisted, fearing that the Soviets
    would use the delay to win more votes for their alternative resolution. Kuznetsov persisted, “You may
    have misunderstood me. I am personally asking you for two days.” As soon as Caradon heard the word
    “personal,” he knew he had to grant Kuznetsov his wish. Why? “I knew Kuznetsov very well. I had
    worked with him on other difficult issues. I greatly respected him. I knew he could not work against
    me. . . . I knew I could trust him as he could trust me.” So Caradon went to the Security Council and

    requested a delay in the vote. Two days later the Security Council met to vote. “I raised my hand to vote,”
    recalled Caradon. “And then there was a cheer from the galleries. I looked to my right and saw
    Kuznetsov’s finger raised voting for our resolution and withdrawing his own, thus making the vote for the
    British Resolution 242 unanimous. He had made good use of the two days. He had come to the conclusion
    that a unanimous vote and full agreement were essential. He had gone back to his Government and, I have
    no doubt, to Arab Governments, too, and he had persuaded them.”[9] U.N. Resolution 242 remains central
    to Middle East peace negotiations to this day.

    Kuznetsov’s example shows the power of a trustworthy reputation, even independent of the
    organization you may represent. Your reputation for honesty and fair-dealing may be your single most
    important asset as a negotiator.

    There is power in effective communication. Good communication is an especially significant source
    of negotiating power. Crafting your message with punch, listening to the other side, and showing that you
    have heard can all increase your persuasiveness. Skillfully managing the negotiation process—making
    game-changing moves as needed—can dramatically affect the quality of the outcome you achieve.

    President John F. Kennedy was justly famous for his skill at the first of these, crafting a forceful
    message: “Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.”[10]

    A message does not have to be unequivocal to be clear and effective. In many cases, helping the other
    side understand your thinking—even when you are of two minds about something—can reduce their fears,
    clear up misperceptions, and promote joint problem-solving. Consider the supplier who makes what she
    thinks is a competitive bid for a business supply contract. The purchaser likes the bid and the bidder but
    is worried that the bidder’s firm, which is new to the market, may not be able to manage the volume
    needed to meet his peak requirements. If the purchaser says simply, “No, thank you” and then pays more to
    hire another firm, the bidder may assume that the purchaser disliked her bid. And the bidder would have
    no opportunity to persuade the purchaser that she could handle the needed volume. It would be better for
    both if, instead, the purchaser shared both his interest in the bid and his concerns.

    Good listening can increase your negotiation power by increasing the information you have about the
    other side’s interests or about possible options. Once you understand the other side’s feelings and
    concerns, you can begin to address them, to explore areas of agreement and disagreement, and to develop
    useful ways to proceed in the future. Consider, for example, the elderly man whose doctors wanted to
    move him from his current hospital to one with specialized facilities. The doctors repeatedly explained
    how the specialized hospital would be better for him, but the man refused to budge. Knowing that the man
    was acting against his own best interests, the doctors dismissed his reasoning as irrational. One intern,
    however, took the man seriously and listened carefully to why he did not want to move. The patient told of
    how he had suffered repeated abandonments in his life and his fears that moving might result in another.
    The intern set about addressing this concern directly, and the man happily agreed to be moved.

    Showing that you have heard the other side also increases your ability to persuade them. When the
    other side feels heard by you, they are more apt to listen to you. It is comparatively easy to listen when the
    other side is saying something that you agree with. It is harder to listen to things with which you disagree,
    but that is the very time it is most effective. Listen before you launch into a rebuttal. Inquire. Make sure
    you understand their view, and make sure they know you understand. Once the other side knows that you
    understand what they have said, they cannot dismiss your disagreement as simple lack of understanding.

    Your awareness of negotiation process and your ability to make game-changing moves increases your
    negotiation power because the process of the negotiation affects the kind of outcomes you can achieve.
    Positional bargaining frequently results in odd, arbitrary results that are difficult to explain to constituents

    and of little value as precedents in future negotiations. It also tends to bruise relationships.
    As discussed in Chapter 8, recognizing a tactic or move allows you to name it and begin an explicit

    negotiation over process. Another way to “change the game” is to change the frame. In other words, move
    the focus in the negotiation from positions to interests, options, or standards. If the other side says, for
    example, “$10,000 is the most we will pay,” when you think $50,000 would be fair, you could respond in
    several ways:

    Reframe to interests: “I hear that is your position. Given how far that seems below the market
    price, help me understand your interests. Are you experiencing a serious cash flow crisis?”
    Reframe to options: “$10,000 is one option, just as $100,000 or $200,000 would be attractive
    options from our point of view. I think we’ll get a lot further brainstorming options likely to be
    acceptable and attractive to both of us. What if we were to . . . ?”
    Reframe to standards: “You must have good reasons for thinking $10,000 is a fair offer. How did
    you arrive at that number? Why that number, instead of, say, $0 or $100,000? My understanding is
    that the market price is $50,000. Why should we agree on less?”
    Reframe to BATNA: “Of course, that’s your decision to make, and perhaps someone else will
    accept that. I think we need to think hard now about whether an agreement is possible here that
    would make sense for both of us.”

    One of the greatest powers you have is to reframe, using statements and questions to change the focus
    of negotiation to interests, options, and standards—and thus to change the game from positional bargaining
    to principled negotiation.[11]

    Let’s return to the neighbors from Chapter 3 who are concerned about an unwanted and unsafe
    construction site. Consider the difference between beginning their negotiation with the construction
    company by saying, “We demand that a fence be built around the site immediately!” or instead beginning,
    “I have a simple question for you: Does your company adhere to industry standards of safety?” That is
    certainly a question to which the company cannot afford to answer “no.” And once they say “yes,” the
    neighbors only need standards collected from competitor companies to make their point persuasively, and
    on the merits. “Well, Turner Construction said they would put a two-meter-high fence around anything
    bigger than a pothole, and always before beginning any construction activity.”

    There is power in understanding interests. The more clearly you understand the other side’s
    concerns, the better able you will be to satisfy them at minimum cost to yourself. Look for intangible or
    hidden interests that may be important. With concrete interests like money, ask what lies behind them.
    (“For what will the money be used?”) Sometimes even the most firmly stated and unacceptable position
    reflects an underlying interest that is compatible with your own.

    Consider the businessman who was trying to buy a radio station. The majority owner was willing to
    sell his two-thirds of the station for a reasonable figure, but the one-third owner (and current manager of
    the station) was demanding what seemed an exorbitant price for her third. The businessman had raised his
    offer several times to no avail, and he was beginning to consider abandoning the deal. Finally, the
    businessman inquired more deeply into the second owner’s interests. He learned that the second owner
    had less interest in money than she did in continuing to manage a radio station of which she was a part
    owner. The businessman offered to buy only that portion of the owner’s share he needed for tax reasons
    and to keep her on as manager. The second owner accepted this offer at a price that saved the
    businessman almost a million dollars. Understanding the seller’s underlying interests had greatly
    enhanced the buyer’s negotiating power.

    There is power in inventing an elegant option. Successful brainstorming increases your ability to
    influence others. Once you understand the interests of each side, it is often possible—as in the radio-
    station example above—to invent a clever way of having those interests dovetail. Sometimes this can be
    done by devising an ingenious process option.

    Consider the sealed-bid stamp auction. The auctioneer would like bidders to offer the most they might
    conceivably be willing to pay for the stamps in question. Each potential buyer, however, does not want to
    pay more than necessary. In a regular sealed-bid auction each bidder tries to offer slightly more than their
    best guess of what others will bid, which is often less than the bidder would be willing to pay. But in a
    stamp auction the rules state that the highest bidder gets the stamps at the price of the second-highest bid.
    Buyers can safely bid exactly as much as they would be willing to pay to get the stamps, because the
    auctioneer guarantees that they will not have to pay it! No bidder is left wishing that he or she had bid
    more, and the high bidder is happy to pay less than was offered. The auctioneer is happy knowing that the
    difference between the highest and second-highest bids is usually smaller than the overall increase in the
    level of bids under this system versus a regular sealed-bid auction.[12]

    There is power in using external standards of legitimacy. You can use standards of legitimacy both
    as a sword to persuade others, and as a shield to help you resist pressure to give in arbitrarily. (“I would
    like to give you a discount, but this price is firm. It is what General Motors paid for the same item last
    week; here is the bill of sale.”) Just as, by finding relevant precedent and principles a lawyer enhances
    his or her ability to persuade a judge, so a negotiator can enhance his or her negotiation power by finding
    precedents, principles, and other external criteria of fairness and by thinking of ways to present them
    forcefully and tellingly: “I am asking for no more and no less than you are paying others for comparable
    work.” “We will pay what the house is worth if we can afford it. We are offering what the similar house
    nearby sold for last month. Unless you can give us a good reason why your house is worth more, our offer
    remains firm and unchanged.” Convincing the other side that you are asking for no more than is fair is one
    of the most powerful arguments you can make.

    There is power in developing a good BATNA. As we argue in Chapter 6, a fundamental way to
    increase your negotiation power is by improving your walk-away alternative. An attractive BATNA is a
    strong argument with which to persuade the other side of the need to offer more. (“The firm across the
    street has offered me 20 percent above what I am now earning. I would rather stay here. But with the cost
    of living, unless I can get a good raise soon, I will have to consider moving on. What do you think might
    be possible?”)

    In addition to improving your overall BATNA (what you will do if the negotiations fail to produce an
    agreement), you should also prepare your “micro-BATNA”—if no agreement is reached at this meeting,
    what is the best outcome? It helps to draft in advance a good exit line to use if a meeting is inconclusive.
    (“Thank you for sharing your views and for listening to mine. If I decide to go forward, I will get back to
    you, perhaps with a fresh proposal.”)

    Sometimes it is possible, quite legitimately, to worsen the other side’s BATNA. For example, a father
    we know was trying to get his young son to mow the lawn. He offered a significant amount of money, but
    to no avail. Finally, the son inadvertently revealed his BATNA: “But Dad, I don’t need to mow the lawn
    to get money. You, uh, leave your wallet on the dresser every weekend. . . .” The father quickly changed
    his son’s BATNA by not leaving his wallet out and making clear that he disapproved of taking money
    without asking; the son started mowing the lawn. The tactic of worsening the other side’s BATNA can be
    used to coerce or exploit, but it can also help ensure a fair outcome. Efforts to improve one’s own
    alternatives and to lower the other side’s estimate of theirs are critical ways to enhance our negotiating

    There is power in making a carefully crafted commitment. One additional source of persuasive
    power deserves attention: the power of making commitments. You can use a commitment to enhance your
    negotiating power in three ways: You can commit to what you will do, for example, by making a firm
    offer. You can, with care, make a negative commitment as to what you will not do. And you can clarify
    precisely what commitments you would like the other side to make.

    Clarify what you will do. One way to enhance your negotiating power is to make a firm, well-timed
    offer. When you make a firm offer, you provide one option that you will accept, making it clear at the same
    time that you are not foreclosing discussion of other options. If you want to persuade someone to accept a
    job, don’t just talk about it; make an offer. By making an offer you give up your chance to haggle for better
    terms. But you gain by simplifying the other side’s choice and making it easier for them to commit. To
    reach agreement, all they have to say is “yes.”

    Making an offer of what you will do if they agree to the terms you are proposing is one way to
    overcome any fear the other side may have of starting down a slippery slope. Without a clear offer, even a
    painful situation may seem preferable to accepting “a pig in a poke,” especially if the other side fears that
    a favorable indication will encourage you to ask for more. In 1990, the U.N. Security Council sought to
    influence Iraq to withdraw from its military occupation of Kuwait by imposing sanctions. The Council’s
    resolutions clearly stated that Iraq must withdraw, but did not state that upon withdrawal sanctions would
    end. If Iraqi President Saddam Hussein believed that sanctions would continue even after Iraq withdrew
    from Kuwait, then those sanctions, though unpleasant, provided no incentive for Iraq to leave.

    The more concrete the offer, the more persuasive. Thus a written offer may be more credible than an
    oral one. (A real-estate agent we know likes to have a client make an offer by stacking bundles of
    hundred-dollar bills on the table.) You may also want to make your offer a “fading opportunity” by
    indicating when and how it will expire. For example, President Ronald Reagan’s inauguration in 1981
    created a fading opportunity in the negotiations for the release of the American diplomatic hostages held
    in Iran. The Iranians did not want to have to start negotiating again with a new U.S. administration.

    In some cases, you may also want to clarify what you will do if the other side does not accept your
    proposal. They may not realize the consequences of your BATNA for them. (“If we can’t get heat in our
    apartment this evening, I will have to call the health department’s emergency line. Are you aware that they
    charge landlords a $250 fine when they respond and find a violation of the statute?”)

    Consider committing to what you will not do. Sometimes you can persuade the other side to accept an
    offer better than their BATNA by convincing them that you cannot or will not offer more (“Take it or leave
    it”). You not only make an offer; you tie your hands against changing it. As discussed in Chapter 1, locking
    into a position has significant costs; locking in early limits communication and runs the risk of damaging
    the relationship by making the other side feel ignored or coerced. There is less risk in locking in after you
    have come to understand the other side’s interests and have explored options for joint gains, and it will do
    less damage to your relationship with the other side if there are credible reasons independent of your will
    to explain and justify your rigidity.

    At some point, it may be best to put a final offer on the table and mean it. Doing so tends to influence
    the other side by worsening their micro-BATNA. At this point if they say “no,” they no longer have open
    the possibility of reaching a better agreement with you.

    Clarify what you want them to do. It pays to think through the precise terms of the commitment you
    want the other side to make. This ensures that your demand makes sense. “Susan, promise never to
    interrupt me again when I am on the telephone” could easily be disastrous if Susan took her promise
    literally in an emergency. You want to avoid a sloppy commitment that is overbroad, fails to bind the
    other side, leaves out crucial information, or is not operational.

    Especially when you want the other side to do something, it makes sense to tell them exactly what it is
    you want them to do. Otherwise they may do nothing, not wanting to do more than they have to. In the fall
    of 1990, for example, the ability of the United States to influence Saddam Hussein was undercut by
    ambiguity about what would satisfy the United States. At different times, the withdrawal of Iraqi troops
    from Kuwait, the destruction of Iraqi nuclear facilities, the dismantling of Iraq’s military capability, and
    the overthrow of Saddam Hussein all seemed to be possible U.S. goals.

    Make the most of your potential power

    To make the most of your potential negotiating power, you should use each source of power in harmony
    with other sources. Negotiators sometimes look for their strongest source of power and try to use it alone.
    For example, if a negotiator has a strong BATNA, he or she may confront the other side with it,
    threatening to walk away unless the last offer is accepted. This is likely to detract from the persuasive
    power of the negotiator’s arguments about why the offer is fair. If you are going to communicate your
    BATNA, it would be better to do so in ways that respect the relationship, leave open the possibility of
    two-way communication, underscore the legitimacy of your last offer, suggest how that offer meets the
    other side’s interests, and so forth. The total impact of such negotiation power as you have will be greater
    if each element is used in ways that reinforce the others.

    You will also be more effective as a negotiator if you believe in what you are saying and doing.
    Whatever use you are able to make of the ideas in this book, don’t wear them as though you were wearing
    someone else’s clothes. Cut and fit what we say until you find an approach that both makes sense and is
    comfortable for you. This may require experimentation and a period of adjustment that is not so
    comfortable, but in the end, you are likely to maximize your negotiation power if you believe what you
    say and say what you believe.

    [1] For more on the core concerns and how to manage them in negotiation, see Roger Fisher and Daniel Shapiro, Beyond Reason: Using
    Emotions As You Negotiate (Penguin, 2006).

    [2] For more interesting examples from the Law of the Sea negotiations, see James K. Sebenius, Negotiating the Law of the Sea: Lessons
    in the Art and Science of Reaching Agreement (Harvard University Press, 1984).

    [3] Interestingly, in South Africa the facilitators using the one-text process were talented members of the South African business community.
    While the business community was hardly neutral, everyone understood that its overriding interest was to maintain stability and prosperity and
    avoid a civil war, interests likely to be best served by a successful process.

    [4] We do think that, in addition to providing a good all-around method for getting what you want in a negotiation, principled negotiation can
    help make the world a better place. It promotes understanding among people, whether they be parent and child, worker and manager, or Arab
    and Israeli. Focusing on interests and creative options helps increase satisfaction and minimize waste. Relying on standards of fairness and
    seeking to meet the interests of both sides helps produce agreements that are durable, set good precedents, and build lasting relationships. The
    more a problem-solving approach to negotiation becomes the norm in dealing with differences among individuals and nations, the lower will be
    the costs of conflict. And beyond such social benefits, you may find that using this approach serves values of caring and justice in a way that is
    personally satisfying.

    [5] For an in-depth consideration of whether and when to negotiate with unsavory counterparts that draws on a variety of contemporary and
    historical examples, see Robert Mnookin, Bargaining with the Devil: When to Negotiate, When to Fight (Simon & Schuster, 2010).

    [6] See, as a starting point, Carol Gilligan, In a Different Voice (Harvard University Press, 1982).

    [7] K. L. Valley, J. Moag, and M. H. Bazerman, “‘A Matter of Trust’: Effects of Communication on the Efficiency and Distribution of
    Outcomes,” 34 Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 211 (1998). For a review of research on modes of communication in
    negotiation, see J. Nadler and D. Shestowsky, “Negotiation, Information Technology, and the Problem of the Faceless Other,” in Leigh L.
    Thompson, editor, Negotiation Theory and Research (Psychology Press, 2006).

    [8] See Jared R. Curhan, Margaret A. Neale, and Lee Ross, “Dynamic Valuation: Preference Changes in the Context of Face-to-Face
    Negotiations,” 40 Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 142 (2004).

    [9] Quoted in Karen A. Feste, Plans for Peace: Negotiation and the Arab–Israeli Conflict (Greenwood Press, 1991).

    [10] Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961.

    [11] For more on reframing and other strategies for negotiating in difficult situations, see William Ury, Getting Past No: Negotiating in
    Difficult Situations (Bantam, 1991; revised edition 1993).

    [12] A process similar to this can be used in all kinds of allocation decisions, even when the issue is as volatile as where to site a hazardous
    waste facility. See Howard Raiffa, “Creative Compensation: Maybe ‘In My Backyard.’” 1 Negotiation Journal 197 (1985).

    [*] For more on identity and other human factors that can get in the way of problem-solving negotiation, see Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, and
    Sheila Heen, Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most (Viking/Penguin, 1999; 2nd Edition, 2010).

    Analytical Table of Contents

    Preface to the Third Edition
    Preface to the Second Edition

    1. Don’t Bargain Over Positions

    Arguing over positions produces unwise outcomes
    Arguing over positions is inefficient
    Arguing over positions endangers an ongoing relationship
    When there are many parties, positional bargaining is even worse
    Being nice is no answer
    There is an alternative

    2. Separate the People From the Problem

    Negotiators are people first
    Every negotiator has two kinds of interests: in the substance and in the relationship

    The relationship tends to become entangled with the problem
    Positional bargaining puts relationship and substance in conflict

    Disentangle the relationship from the substance; deal directly with the people problem

    Put yourself in their shoes
    Don’t deduce their intentions from your fears
    Don’t blame them for your problem
    Discuss each other’s perceptions
    Look for opportunities to act inconsistently with their perceptions
    Give them a stake in the outcome by making sure they participate in the process
    Face-saving: Make your proposals consistent with their values

    First recognize and understand emotions, theirs and yours
    Pay attention to “core concerns”
    Consider the role of identity
    Make emotions explicit and acknowledge them as legitimate
    Allow the other side to let off steam
    Don’t react to emotional outbursts
    Use symbolic gestures

    Listen actively and acknowledge what is being said
    Speak to be understood
    Speak about yourself, not about them
    Speak for a purpose

    Prevention works best
    Build a working relationship
    Face the problem, not the people

    3. Focus on Interests, Not Positions
    For a wise solution reconcile interests, not positions

    Interests define the problem
    Behind opposed positions lie shared and compatible interests, as well as conflicting ones

    How do you identify interests?
    Ask “Why?”
    Ask “Why not?” Think about their choice
    Realize that each side has multiple interests
    The most powerful interests are basic human needs
    Make a list

    Talking about interests
    Make your interests come alive
    Acknowledge their interests as part of the problem
    Put the problem before your answer
    Look forward, not back
    The question “Why?” has two quite different meanings
    Be concrete but flexible
    Be hard on the problem, soft on the people

    4. Invent Options for Mutual Gain
    Premature judgment
    Searching for the single answer
    The assumption of a fixed pie
    Thinking that “solving their problem is their problem”
    Separate inventing from deciding

    Before brainstorming
    1. Define your purpose
    2. Choose a few participants
    3. Change the environment
    4. Design an informal atmosphere
    5. Choose a facilitator

    During brainstorming
    1. Seat the participants side by side facing the problem
    2. Clarify the ground rules, including the no-criticism rule
    3. Brainstorm
    4. Record the ideas in full view

    After brainstorming
    1. Star the most promising ideas
    2. Invent improvements for promising ideas
    3. Set up a time to evaluate ideas and decide

    Consider brainstorming with the other side
    Broaden your options

    Multiply options by shuttling between the specific and the general: The Circle Chart
    Look through the eyes of different experts
    Invent agreements of different strengths
    Change the scope of a proposed agreement

    Look for mutual gain
    Identify shared interests
    Dovetail differing interests

    Any difference in interests?
    Different beliefs?
    Different values placed on time?
    Different forecasts?
    Differences in aversion to risk?

    Ask for their preferences
    Make their decision easy

    Whose shoes?
    What decision?
    Making threats is not enough

    5. Insist on Using Objective Criteria
    Deciding on the basis of will is costly

    The case for using objective criteria
    Principled negotiation produces wise agreements amicably and efficiently

    Developing objective criteria
    Fair standards
    Fair procedures

    Negotiating with objective criteria
    Frame each issue as a joint search for objective criteria

    Ask “What’s your theory?”
    Agree first on principles

    Reason and be open to reason
    Never yield to pressure

    “It’s company policy”

    III. YES, BUT . . .
    6. What If They Are More Powerful?

    Protecting yourself

    The costs of using a bottom line
    Know your BATNA
    The insecurity of an unknown BATNA
    Formulate a trip wire

    Making the most of your assets
    The better your BATNA, the greater your power
    Develop your BATNA
    Consider the other side’s BATNA

    When the other side is powerful

    7. What If They Won’t Play?

    Negotiation jujitsu
    Don’t attack their position, look behind it
    Don’t defend your ideas, invite criticism and advice
    Recast an attack on you as an attack on the problem
    Ask questions and pause

    Consider the one-text procedure
    Getting them to play: The case of Jones Realty and Frank Turnbull

    The case in brief
    “Please correct me if I’m wrong”
    “We appreciate what you’ve done for us”
    “Our concern is fairness”
    “We would like to settle this on the basis of independent standards, not of who can do what to whom”
    “Trust is a separate issue”
    “Could I ask you a few questions to see whether my facts are right?”
    “What’s the principle behind your action?”
    “Let me see if I understand what you’re saying”
    “Let me get back to you”
    “Let me show you where I have trouble following some of your reasoning”
    “One fair solution might be . . .”
    “If we agree . . . If we disagree . . .”
    “We’d be happy to see if we can leave when it’s most convenient for you”
    “It’s been a pleasure dealing with you”

    8. What If They Use Dirty Tricks?

    How do you negotiate about the rules of the game?
    Separate the people from the problem
    Focus on interests, not positions
    Invent options for mutual gain

    Insist on using objective criteria
    Some common tricky tactics

    Deliberate deception
    Phony facts
    Ambiguous authority
    Dubious intentions
    Less than full disclosure is not the same as deception

    Psychological warfare
    Stressful situations
    Personal attacks
    The good-guy/bad-guy routine

    Positional pressure tactics
    Refusal to negotiate
    Extreme demands
    Escalating demands
    Lock-in tactics
    Hardhearted partner
    A calculated delay
    “Take it or leave it”

    Don’t be a victim

    You knew it all the time
    Learn from doing


    Question 1: “Does positional bargaining ever make sense?”

    How important is it to avoid an arbitrary outcome?
    How complex are the issues?
    How important is it to maintain a good working relationship?
    What are the other side’s expectations, and how hard would they be to change?
    Where are you in the negotiation?

    Question 2: “What if the other side believes in a different standard of fairness?”
    Explore how conflicting standards developed
    Agreement on the “best” standard is not necessary

    Question 3: “Should I be fair if I don’t have to be?”
    How much is the difference worth to you?
    Will the unfair result be durable?
    What damage might the unfair result cause to this or other relationships?
    Will your conscience bother you?

    Question 4: “What do I do if the people are the problem?”

    Build a working relationship independent of agreement or disagreement
    Negotiate the relationship
    Distinguish how you treat them from how they treat you
    Deal rationally with apparent irrationality

    Question 5: “Should I negotiate even with terrorists or someone like Hitler? When does it make sense not to
    Negotiate with terrorists?
    Negotiate with someone like Hitler?
    Negotiate when people are acting out of religious conviction?
    When does it make sense not to negotiate?

    Question 6: “How should I adjust my negotiating approach to account for differences of personality, gender,
    culture, and so on?”
    Get in step
    Adapt our general advice to the specific situation
    Pay attention to differences of belief and custom, but avoid stereotyping individuals
    Question your assumptions; listen actively

    Question 7: “How do I decide things like ‘Where should we meet?’ ‘How should we communicate?’ ‘Who should

    make the first offer?’ and ‘How high should I start?’”
    Where should we meet?
    How should we communicate?
    Who should make the first offer?
    How high should I start?
    Strategy depends on preparation

    Question 8: “Concretely, how do I move from inventing options to making commitments?”
    Think about closure from the beginning
    Consider crafting a framework agreement
    Move toward commitment gradually
    Be persistent in pursuing your interests but not rigid in pursuing any particular solution
    Make an offer
    Be generous at the end

    Question 9: “How do I try out these ideas without taking too much risk?”
    Start small
    Make an investment
    Review your performance

    Question 10: “Can the way I negotiate really make a difference if the other side is more powerful?” And “How do I

    enhance my negotiating power?”
    Some things you can’t get
    How you negotiate makes a big difference
    “Resources” are not the same as “negotiation power”
    Don’t ask “Who’s more powerful?”
    There are many sources of negotiation power

    There is power in developing a good working relationship between the people negotiating
    There is power in effective communication
    There is power in understanding interests
    There is power in inventing an elegant option
    There is power in using external standards of legitimacy
    There is power in developing a good BATNA
    There is power in making a carefully crafted commitment

    Clarify what you will do
    Consider committing to what you will not do
    Clarify what you want them to do

    Make the most of your potential power

    A Note on the Harvard Negotiation Project

    he Harvard Negotiation Project’s mission is to improve the theory, teaching, and practice of negotiation
    and dispute resolution, so that people can deal more constructively with conflicts ranging from the
    interpersonal to the international. The Project is part of the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law
    School, a consortium of scholars and projects from Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
    Simmons, and Tufts. The work of the Harvard Negotiation Project routinely moves back and forth
    between the worlds of theory and practice to develop ideas that practitioners find useful and scholars
    sound. The Project’s activities include:

    Theory building. The Project has helped to develop frameworks such as the method of principled
    negotiation summarized in this book. Other frameworks include the method of breakthrough negotiation
    developed for dealing with difficult people and difficult situations, summarized in Getting Past No; a
    framework for understanding what makes difficult conversations more or less productive, presented in
    Difficult Conversations; a method for understanding and managing emotions in negotiation, described in
    Beyond Reason; systematic tools for getting results, whether in business or international diplomacy,
    summed up in Beyond Machiavelli and Getting It DONE; and a method for saying no effectively without
    destroying the deal or the relationship, described in The Power of a Positive No. The Project has also
    developed such ideas as the one-text mediation procedure used by the United States in the Middle East
    peace negotiations at Camp David in September 1978.

    Education and training. The Project develops programs for professionals (lawyers, businesspeople,
    diplomats, journalists, government officials, union leaders, military officers, and others) as well as for
    graduate and undergraduate students and has developed a pilot curriculum for high school students. Each
    year the Project offers three week-long negotiation courses to lawyers and the general public as part of
    the Harvard Negotiation Institute. Faculty also teach in the Program on Negotiation for Senior Executives.

    Publications. In addition to the many books mentioned above, the Project prepares practical materials,
    such as International Mediation: A Working Guide, checklists for negotiators, case studies, negotiation
    exercises, teacher’s guides, and forms designed to be of use to practitioners, teachers, and students.
    Inquiries about teaching materials available for distribution should be directed to the Program on
    Negotiation Clearinghouse.

    Action research. Faculty and students actively study ongoing conflicts and occasionally participate as
    third party advisers and facilitators. The Project has contributed to U.S.–Soviet détente, the Central
    American peace process, the South African constitutional negotiations and the political negotiations that
    preceded them, and many other situations. Currently, one effort underway is Abraham’s Path (Masar
    Ibrahim al Khalil), an initiative that seeks to build mutual understanding and respect between the West and
    the Muslim world by inspiring travel in the Middle East along the ancient route of Abraham, the
    progenitor of many peoples and faiths.

    Beyond Reason: Using Emotions as You Negotiate
    (with Dan Shapiro, 2005)
    Lateral Leadership: Getting Things Done When You’re NOT the Boss
    (with Alan Sharp, 1998)
    Coping with International Conflict: A Systematic Approach to Influence in International Negotiation (with Andrea Kupfer Schneider,
    Elizabeth Borgwardt, and Brian Ganson, 1996)
    Beyond Machiavelli
    (with Elizabeth Kopelman and Andrea Kupfer Schneider, 1994)
    Getting Together: Building Relationships As We Negotiate
    (with Scott Brown, 1988)
    Improving Compliance with International Law (1981)
    International Mediation: A Working Guide; Ideas for the Practitioner
    (with William Ury, 1978)
    International Crises and the Role of Law: Points of Choice (1978)
    Dear Israelis, Dear Arabs: A Working Approach to Peace (1972)
    International Conflict for Beginners (1969)
    International Conflict and Behavioral Science: The Craigville Papers
    (editor and coauthor, 1964)
    The Power of a Positive No:
    Save the Deal, Save the Relationship, and Still Say No (2007)
    Must We Fight? (editor and coauthor, 2001)
    The Third Side: Why We Fight and How We Can Stop (2000)
    Getting Past No: Negotiating in Difficult Situations (1991, revised edition 1993)
    Windows of Opportunity: From Cold War to Peaceful Competition in U.S.–Soviet Relations
    (edited with Graham T. Allison and Bruce J. Allyn, 1989)
    Getting Disputes Resolved: Designing Systems to Cut the Costs of Conflict
    (with Jeanne M. Brett and Stephen B. Goldberg, 1988)
    Beyond the Hotline: How Crisis Control Can Prevent Nuclear War (1985)
    Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most
    (with Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen, 1999, 2nd Edition 2010)


    • About the Authors
    • Title Page
    • Copyright

    • Dedication
    • Preface to the Third Edition
    • Preface to the Second Edition
    • Acknowledgments

    • 1 Don’t Bargain Over Positions

    • 2 Separate the People from the Problem
      3 Focus on Interests, Not Positions
      4 Invent Options for Mutual Gain
      5 Insist on Using Objective Criteria

    • III YES, BUT . . .
    • 6 What If They Are More Powerful?
      7 What If They Won’t Play?
      8 What If They Use Dirty Tricks?

    • In Conclusion

    • Ten Questions People Ask About Getting to YES

    • Analytical Table of Contents
    • A Note on the Harvard Negotiation Project

    PAPER #3: Negotiation

    A Case Study in Negotiation. Using the text, Getting to Yes, you will analyze a negotiation you have personally experienced in the last 12-18 months. A Case Study asks and answers a key question connected to your topic with supportive evidence, observations and finally recommendations. A well-written case is something someone else can look at and use an example to support their position on a given topic. It is informative, creative, tells a story and




    invites the reader to consider the evidence presented to shift a perspective or enlarge one’s learning. Follow these steps:

    Step 1: TITLE: Create an engaging title for this Case Study.

    Step 2: KEY QUESTION/ CHALLENGE TO OVERCOME: You will create a key question that this case study will attempt to answer. It may be a negotiation challenge to overcome, a specific aspect of this negotiation that needs further analysis. It may connect to the complexity of negotiation or how the keys to principled negotiation are the solution to becoming more successful at negotiation. Whatever your question is (and it can be 1-3 sentences), make sure that it gets answered by the end of your case study. Here are some examples to get your thinking activated but feel free to create your own.

    · What barriers does a 20-year old face when negotiating with an elder and how can they overcome them?

    · How does one’s culture affect the negotiation process of buying a car?

    · In what ways do women and men negotiate differently?

    · How do I safely express my emotions in a negotiation with my parents?

    Step 3: INTRODUCTION and BACKGROUND: Briefly explain the details of this negotiation (who was involved, when, what the negotiation was about, what exactly was said or done in the negotiation). Provide important details that will help the reader fully understand the nature of the events surrounding the negotiation.

    STEP 4: ANALYZE & PROVIDE SOULTIONS: Analyze the negotiation using the framework of the 4 keys of principled negotiation (as outlined in the textbook), discuss the following questions in your paper:

    o how could you separate people from the problem?
    o what are the keys interests v. positions for each party in this


    o what options for mutual gain are available?
    o are there any objective criteria that could be used in this negotiation?
    o what might a win-win-solution look like for all parties involved in this


    Step 5: CONCLUSION: Make sure your conclusion summarizes and answers the key question/ challenge to overcome that you posed at the beginning of this case study. Also include the key 1-2 things might you would recommend the reader do in future negotiations to achieve a win-win successful outcome.

    LDSR 400:


    Unit #3A:
    Introduction to


    1. Are there conflicts that can never be resolved? Explain your answer.

    2. “How do we deal with our differences? How do we deal with our deepest
    differences, given the human propensity for conflict and the human genius at
    devising weapons of enormous destruction? That’s the question.” So why do
    you think there is so much conflict in the world?

    3. What do you think are the greatest global conversations we are having
    right now in 2020?

    4. “When we’re involved in conflict, it’s very easy to lose perspective. It’s very
    easy to react. Human beings — we’re reaction machines. And as the saying
    goes, when angry, you will make the best speech you will ever regret.” Has
    this ever happened to you? Explain.

    What words or concepts
    do you think of when
    you hear the word


    Fisher & Ury define it this way:

    “Negotiation is a back and forth
    communication designed to reach
    an agreement when you and the

    other side have some interests that
    are shared and others that are

    opposed (as well as some that may
    be different).”

    In her negotiation textbook The
    Mind and Heart of the

    Negotiator, Leigh Thompson
    refers to negotiation as a

    “interpersonal decision-making
    process” that is “necessary

    whenever we cannot achieve our
    objectives single-handedly.”

    And in their book Judgment in Managerial Decision Making, Max H.
    Bazerman and Don A. Moore write, “When two or more parties need to

    reach a joint decision but have different preferences, they negotiate.”

    Everyone wants to
    participate in decisions that

    affect them; fewer and
    fewer people will accept

    decisions dictated by
    someone else.

    Typically there are “two
    ways to negotiate:

    soft or hard.


    The SOFT
    wants to avoid

    personal conflict
    and so make

    concessions readily
    to reach an

    agreement. He or
    she wants an

    amicable resolution;
    yet often ends up

    exploited and
    feeling bitter.

    Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash


    sees any situation as a
    contest of wills in which
    the side that takes the
    more extreme positions
    and holds out longer

    fares better.

    He or she wants to win;
    yet often ends up

    producing an equally
    hard response that

    exhausts the negotiator
    and his or her resources

    and harms the
    relationship with the other


    Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash


    The method of
    principled negotiation
    suggests that you look

    for mutual gains
    whenever possible, and
    that where your interests
    conflict, you should insist
    that the result be based
    on some fair standards
    independent of the will

    of either side.”

    “The method of
    principled negotiation is
    hard on the merits, soft

    on the people. It
    employs no tricks and

    no posturing.”


    negotiation shows
    you how to obtain

    what you are
    entitled to and still

    be decent.

    It enables you to be
    fair while protecting

    you against those
    who would take

    advantage of your

    = WIN-WIN





    In typical bargaining, each side
    takes a position, argues for it,
    and makes concessions to reach
    a compromise. Or they end up
    in a battle where no one wins
    and everyone is frustrated.

    So why is this approach




    Since we all want o have a part of
    decision-making…and since we have
    different desired outcomes…what
    makes a good negotiation?

    In principled negotiation, we use
    these three criteria to judge whether
    a negotiation is good:

    1. It should produce a wise
    agreement if agreement is

    2. It should be efficient.
    3. It should improve or at least not

    damage the relationship between




    A wise agreement
    can be defined as
    one that meet the
    legitimate interests
    of each side to the

    extent possible,
    resolves conflicting
    interests fairly, is

    durable, and takes
    community interests

    into account.


    Arguing over positions produces

    When negotiators bargain over
    positions, they tend to lock
    themselves into those positions.

    The more you clarify your position
    and defend it against attack, the
    more committed you become to it
    and less willing to let it go and
    consider alternatives.

    Your ego becomes identified with
    your position. You now have a new
    interest in “saving face” making it
    less likely that any agreement will
    wisely reconcile the parties’ original

    “The more attention is paid to
    positions, the less attention is
    devoted to meeting the underlying
    concerns of the parties.”

    Agreement then becomes less likely.


    In positional
    bargaining you
    try to improve
    the chance that
    any settlement is
    favorable to you
    by starting with

    an extreme

    “…By stubbornly
    holding to it, by

    deceiving the other
    party as to your true
    views, and by making
    small concessions only
    as necessary to keep

    the negotiation


    “Arguing over



    becomes a

    contest of will
    and strains and

    shatters the
    between the



    “When there are many
    parties, positional
    bargaining is even
    worse – the more

    people involved in a
    negotiation, THE MORE


    positional bargaining.

    But being nice is no
    answer either.

    Many people recognize
    the high cost of hard
    positional bargaining,

    particularly on the
    parties and their


    Positional Bargaining: Which Game Should You Play

    Participants are friends.

    The goal is agreement.

    Make concessions to cultivate the
    Be soft on the people and the

    Trust others.

    Change your position easily.

    Make offers.

    Disclose bottom line.

    Accept one sided losses to reach

    Search for the single answer.

    Insist on agreement.

    Try to avoid contest of wills.

    Yield to pressure.

    Participants are advisories.
    The goal is victory.

    Demand concessions as a condition of
    the relationship.
    Be hard on the problem and the

    Distrust others.

    Dig into your position.

    Make threats.

    Mislead as to your bottom line.
    Demand one-sided gains as the price
    of agreement.
    Search for the single answer.

    Insist on your position.

    Try to win a contest of will.

    Apply pressure.


    If you do not like the
    choice between hard
    and soft positional
    bargaining, you can
    change the game.

    “The game of
    negotiating takes
    place at two levels. At
    one level, negotiation
    addresses the
    another, it focuses on
    the PROCEDURE for
    dealing with the

    “This method, called PRINCIPLED
    NEGOTIATION. It can be summarized in

    four principles.

    These four principles define a
    straightforward method of negotiation that

    can be used under almost any

    Each principle deals with the basic element
    of negotiation, and suggests what you

    should do about it.


    THE 4

    separate the

    people from the

    focus on

    interests, not

    invent multiple
    options looking
    for mutual gains
    before deciding

    what to do.”

    insist that the

    result should be
    based on some


    Positional Bargaining: Which Game Should You Play

    Change the Game –
    Negotiate on Principles

    Participants are friends.
    The goal is agreement.

    Make concessions to cultivate
    the relationship.

    Be soft on the people and
    the problem.

    Trust others.
    Participants are advisories.
    The goal is victory.

    Demand concessions as a
    condition of the relationship.

    Be hard on the problem and
    the people.

    Distrust others.

    Participants are problem
    The goal is a wise outcome
    reached efficiently and

    Separate the people from
    the problem.

    Be soft on the people and
    hard on the problem.

    Proceed independent of

    Soft Hard Principled

    Change your position easily.
    Make offers.
    Disclose bottom line.

    Accept one sided losses to
    reach agreement.

    Search for the single answer.
    Dig into your position.
    Make threats.

    Mislead as to your bottom

    Demand one-sided gains as
    the price of agreement.

    Search for the single answer.

    Focus on interests not

    Explore interests.

    Avoid having a bottom line.

    Invent options for mutual

    Develop multiple options to
    choose from; decide later.

    Soft Hard Principled
    Insist on agreement.
    Try to avoid contest of wills.
    Yield to pressure.
    Insist on your position.
    Try to win a contest of will.

    Apply pressure.

    Insist on using objective

    Try to reach a result based on
    standards independent of

    Reason and be open to
    reason; yield to principle, not

    WHAT’S A

    A bottom line in negotiation is the line we draw
    in the sand and stay stubbornly stuck, not
    wanting to move or give-in. But that does not
    serve our interests well.

    BATNA: Best Alternative to a Negotiated
    Agreement is the process of deciding BEFORE a
    negotiation what it is you really want, what you
    might be willing to give up and what you would
    walk away with and feel like your interests and
    outcomes have been protected.

    BATNA helps protect us from accepting an
    agreement you should reject and rejecting an
    agreement you feel pressured to accept.


    #1. ANALYSIS

    During the analysis stage you are simply trying
    to diagnose the situation – to gather
    information, organize it, and think about it.

    You will want to consider the people problems
    of partisan perceptions, hostile emotions, and
    unclear communication, as well as to identify
    your interests and those of the other side.

    #2. PLANNING

    During the planning stage you deal with the
    same four elements a second time, both
    generating ideas and deciding what to do.
    Ø How do you propose to handle the

    people problems?
    Ø Of your interests, which are the most

    Ø And what are some realistic objectives?


    During the discussion stage, when the
    parties communicate back and forth,
    the same four elements are the best
    subjects to discuss.”


    Let’s review…
    Negotiation 101

    Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

    Define negotiation

    Hard v. Soft v. Win-Win
    Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

    Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

    What do we called the
    method of negotiation that is

    a win-win?

    PRINCIPLED Negotiation

    3 criteria to judge a
    good agreement

    Photo by Tony Hand on Unsplashlash

    1. Wise
    2. Efficient
    3. Ongoing


    Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

    Four Keys to

    1. People
    2. Interests
    3. Options
    4. Criteria

    To a

    Photo by jose aljovin on Unsplash

    What is a

    Photo by Diego PH on Unsplash

    An open mind
    is not an
    empty one.

    William Ury

    Unless otherwise stated, all

    material from this lecture are
    curated from the textbook, Getting

    to Yes: Negotiating Agreement
    Without Giving In (2011).

    Fisher, R., Ury, W.L. & Patton, B. (2011). Getting
    to yes: Negotiating agreement without giving
    in. New York, NY: Penguin Group USA, Inc.



    Table of Contents

    Praise for Have a Nice Conflict

    Title Page

  • Copyright
  • Acknowledgments
  • About the Authors

  • Introduction
  • Chapter One

    Chapter Two

    Chapter Three

    Chapter Four

    Chapter Five

    Chapter Six

    Chapter Seven

    Chapter Eight

    Chapter Nine

    Chapter Ten

    Letter from John

    Starr: Industries

    John’s Notebook

    Dr. Mac’s Statement of Philosophy: A Philosophical Approach to
    Learning as Written from the Perspective of Dr. Mac Wilson

    Character Assessment Results

    The 7 Motivational Value Systems

    Main Characters
    Conflict Sequence

    Summary of Character SDI Results

    Supporting Characters

    Praise for Have a Nice Conflict

    “The authors seek to empower readers to become masters of their own conflict and control their own
    lives. Have a Nice Conflict is a powerful read for anyone who wants to be able to diffuse life’s
    conflicts more effectively.”

    —The Midwest Book Review
    “In telling the story of John Doyle, Have a Nice Conflict gives us an everyman who faces the same
    conflicts—large and small—that each of us experiences every day at home and in the workplace.
    Enter Dr. Mac, a combination of Marley’s ghost, Yoda, and Peter Drucker to guide John—and us—
    through critical lessons in how to recognize, categorize, and deal with these conflicts. Within the
    context of an easy-to-read, enjoyable story, the authors provide valuable lessons that everyone who
    manages or works with people should know.”

    —Mark Allen, professor, Graziadio School of Business and Management, Pepperdine University;
    author, The Corporate University Handbook

    “This book gives a positive and easy-to-remember methodology to deal with conflicts, both large and

    —Peggy Thurmond, former CFO, McGladrey Capital Markets
    “Have a Nice Conflict does a superb job of distilling key personnel concepts into a succinct format
    that will be of great benefit to managers and employees alike. This narrative volume presents the
    enduring management principles of psychologist Elias Porter in an eminently sensible and
    approachable way. The authors use a case example to illuminate fundamental concepts in a manner
    that is both compelling and readable. A definite addition to the personnel management bookshelf.”

    —Morgan T. Sammons, dean, California School of Professional Psychology
    “With many of the latest popular business books, I fail to make the link from theory to the practical
    application of their contents, but because of the storybook format and application to relationships
    beyond business, the link from theoretical to practical in Have a Nice Conflict was obvious. Once I
    began seeing myself in the behaviors of one of the main characters, I couldn’t put it down. Have a
    Nice Conflict heightened my understanding of Relationship Awareness Theory and kindled a desire to
    learn more!”

    —Jonathan McGrael, director, training and development, Arbor Pharmaceuticals
    “A gem! This book is packed with secrets for resolving conflict and attaining success. Read it now!”

    —Mike Song, coauthor, The Hamster Revolution: Manage Your Email Before It Manages You
    “Turning conflict into opportunity is a blend of skill and art best not left to learning by trial and costly
    error. The authors brilliantly take you through John Doyle’s personal and professional journey. I found
    myself putting the insights to use the same day I read the book!”

    —Ron Campbell, president, Center for Leadership Studies, Situational Leadership
    “The best learning comes from stories, and you will not want to put this story down. The book is well
    written and full of good wit, with memorable Relationship Awareness Theory throughout.”

    —Susan M. Hahn, president, Swan Consulting Group, Inc.
    “Have a Nice Conflict is the perfect resource to use in working with student groups, faculty, and staff.

    The authors weave the theory and its practical application in a wonderful and humorous story. As the
    student disciplinary officer of the college, I find it also a helpful tool in mediating conflict to a
    successful outcome for all parties involved.”

    —Nikki Schaper, associate dean, student services, MiraCosta College
    “This engaging book wonderfully illustrates skills that will help you turn the conflicts of your daily
    life into seeds of positive change—and it shows you how to do it!”

    —Tony LoRe, CEO, founder, Youth Mentoring Connection/Urban Oasis

    Copyright © 2011, 2012 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Previously copyright by Personal Strengths
    Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.

    Published by Jossey-Bass
    A Wiley Imprint

    One Montgomery Street, Suite 1200, San Francisco, CA 94104-4594

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    Limit of Liability/Disclaimer of Warranty: While the publisher and author have used their best efforts in

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    ISBN 978-1-118-20276-0 (cloth); ISBN 978-1-118-21927-0 (ebk); ISBN 978-1-118-21937-9 (ebk);
    ISBN 978-1-118-21939-3 (ebk)


    First and foremost, this book would not have been possible without the invaluable and practical theory of
    relationship awareness developed by Elias H. Porter (1914–1987). Each of us has devoted a significant
    portion of our careers applying these concepts with people in all walks of life and all types of
    organizations. We are most grateful to the many people who invited us into their organizations and
    allowed us to learn with them on difficult interpersonal conflicts.

    Tim Scudder

    Michael Patterson

    Kent Mitchell

    About the Authors

    Tim Scudder, CPA, is the president of Personal Strengths Publishing, Inc., and has consulted with the
    organization development, training, and human resources departments of many corporate, government,
    education, and nonprofit organizations. The author of several experiential training programs, Tim is a
    founding director of the Center for the Development of the Leaders at the California School of
    Professional Psychology. He lives in Carlsbad, California, with his wife and three daughters.
    Michael Patterson, Ed.D., is the vice president of business development for Personal Strengths USA.

    Mike began his career as a U.S. Army officer and then spent twenty years in a variety of sales, marketing,
    and training roles in the pharmaceutical industry. Mike is also a speaker and adjunct professor teaching in
    the doctoral program at Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Education and Psychology. He lives
    in Aliso Viejo, California, with his wife and son.
    Kent Mitchell is the vice president of communications for Personal Strengths USA and a produced and

    award-winning writer and playwright. Before joining Personal Strengths, he ran an advertising design
    agency in the Los Angeles area. Kent has actively worked with the principles and tools of Relationship
    Awareness for over fifteen years. He lives in Long Beach, California, with his wife and son.
    Personal Strengths Publishing, Inc., is based in Carlsbad, California, and serves customers through a

    global network of interrelated distributors who offer products and services consistent with the ideas in
    this book in three main categories:

    1. Training and development services: direct training for teams and individuals
    2. Train the trainer services: Strength Deployment Inventory (SDI) certification, co-facilitation, and
    curriculum design
    3. SDI and related products: self-assessments, workplace learning tools, books, video, and other
    paper and electronic resources. The SDI is available in over twenty languages.

    SDI assessments are available for use by certified facilitators who successfully complete the SDI
    Certification training. Facilitators may be independent or employed by any type of organization. As such,
    training and development services that incorporate the SDI are available from many individual
    consultants and large consulting organizations. The capacity for delivery of these services can also be
    developed within an organization’s training, human resources, organization development, or other similar


    In the story that follows, we explore the practical ideas of relationship awareness theory. Although this
    tale is pure fiction, the situations were inspired by our real-world experiences in personal and
    organizational development—and life in general.
    We hope that this book will make accessible to you some of the principles of managing conflict

    effectively. And when we say effective, we mean in ways that not only resolve the problem but also
    strengthen the relationships of the people involved. We further hope that you will discover a new
    understanding of people and learn new techniques that can reduce the amount of conflict you experience in
    your life.
    Much of this story focuses on the workplace. But as you will soon see, the principles of conflict

    management explored here apply to the entire spectrum of your relationships—personal and professional.
    Relationship awareness theory was developed over forty years ago and is being applied in some of the

    world’s largest organizations. Those who are familiar with the theory (and the tools based on it) may
    enjoy referring to the material that follows the story where we have provided the motivational value
    systems and conflict sequences of our characters. And if you are not familiar with the theory, don’t worry.
    That’s about to change.
    Thank you for reading this book. We trust you will find something useful on this journey—something that

    will help make your next conflict a nice one.

    Chapter One

    At exactly 3:07 in the afternoon, John Doyle concluded that this was the worst day of his career. He could
    barely feel his feet hitting the floor as he retreated to his office, which now felt like a hundred grueling
    miles from Human Resources. As he made his way back through the bustling office building, the HR
    manager’s words repeated in his head until they lost all form and meaning. From her first words, he knew
    what she was going to say. He could see it in her face as she rattled off the obligatory pleasantries. It felt
    like an eternity before she got around to the point, and it was all he could do not to walk out in the middle
    of it. Yet somehow he sat there, on the edge of his seat, praying he was wrong.
    Finally, her face took on a tortured look he was sure she had practiced in the mirror beforehand. “I’m

    sorry, John. You were not selected for promotion at this time.” The words that followed may as well have
    been in Swahili. They bounced off him and littered the floor. Her weak offers of constructive feedback
    were drowned out by the tornado raging in John’s head—thoughts of panic, embarrassment, exhaustion,
    and anger swirled with ferocious intensity.
    Now he was walking through the crowded bullpen of the sales department, his face burning, his limbs

    tingling. Did they know? Were they staring? The infamous grapevine of Starr Industries was quite clear on
    the matter. Although not an official policy, John knew that there was a three-strikes rule in the company:
    get passed over for promotion three times, and you might as well start looking for another job. You were
    damaged goods as far as senior management was concerned. John had just sat through his second strike. If
    he could bring himself to look around, he was sure he’d recognize the looks on his coworkers’ faces. They
    were watching a man whose career was racing toward a brick wall.
    “How did it go?” The mere sound of Cassie’s voice made John nauseous.
    Without even a glance at his sales assistant, he passed her desk and closed himself in his office. He

    hated that Cassie knew his schedule. Granted, it was her job to know, but now he just wanted to be
    anonymous—and anywhere but here. He wanted today to have been a bad dream. He was anxious to wake
    up, wipe the sweat from his brow, and turn over.
    But he was very much awake. His visit to HR was only the most recent gut punch in a day full of them.

    John collapsed in his chair and stared at the wall. It wasn’t lost on him that a promotion to regional sales
    manager would surely have meant an office with a window. For now, he had a wall. For light, he had the
    cheap fluorescent tubes humming above him. He hated mediocrity and now felt bathed in it—confined by
    it in his poorly lit, windowless office—all of it seeming to pour salt on his wounds.
    He had always been proud of his life’s trajectory, his steady rise through the ranks. Working constantly

    and driving hard for results had been his standard approach since college, and up until recently, it seemed
    to be working. No one had ever questioned John’s commitment to the job or even his ability to deliver
    results, but now that didn’t seem to be enough. Somewhere along the way, he’d been derailed. He just
    couldn’t seem to break through this last barrier—he didn’t even know what it was—that was preventing
    him from moving up. What was he doing wrong?
    As the clock closed in on four, he thought of his family. How could he face them? In a few hours, he

    would have no choice. It was J.J.’s first home game that night, and Nancy would have made sure that
    everyone would be taken care of. The home of Saint Nancy—as he jokingly called her—was a warm
    sanctuary where no child or husband was without proper nutrition and clean socks. He knew she would
    take the bad news with cheery, uplifting words of support, but it made him no more eager to admit his

    failure. Being late to the game? This is what made John most nervous. He was sickened by the irony that
    his drive for success at Starr Industries had taken an obvious toll on his family. And he knew Nancy well
    enough to know that Saint Nancy could quickly become Mt. Saint Helens when John fell short as an active
    participant in the family.
    Looking down at the papers on his desk, he was jolted out of his thoughts. Round one of the day’s

    lopsided boxing bout had begun with a sucker-punch the second he entered his office. A single piece of
    paper lay neatly on his keyboard—a faxed copy of Holly Styles’s letter of resignation. John had felt the
    wind knocked out of him after reading only half a sentence.
    Holly was John’s top-performing sales representative for three years running and an informal leader of

    the team. John prayed that Holly had found a job in an unrelated industry, but he immediately began to
    worry that she had been lured away by a competitor. He began to calculate just how many customers
    might follow Holly to her new company and how hard it would be to find another salesperson with
    Holly’s skill and ability to build relationships with clients. More than anything else, John worried about
    how her departure would look in the eyes of senior management—especially since this was the second
    superstar John had lost in as many months.
    John checked his desk phone. The voice mail indicator remained dark. Why hadn’t Holly returned his

    calls? Throughout the day, he had left messages on her cell phone, but so far he was met with only silence.
    He wracked his brain, trying to recall any warning signs he might have missed. He had no idea she was
    unhappy, let alone that she had intended to leave. She was making great money and had a number of large
    deals in the sales pipeline. Nothing made sense. Had he been too hard on her? Pushed her too much?
    Round two—the 9:00 A.M. teleconference with his team—had been notably awkward. Several people

    asked why Holly was not on the call, and John felt a bit guilty playing dumb about it. He hadn’t felt
    prepared to share the bad news yet. He knew there were rumors floating around about other team
    members shopping their résumés, and he worried that Holly’s abrupt departure might fuel the flames of
    discontent. He would need to approach that announcement carefully. Then again, maybe they all knew.
    Maybe that’s why everyone was so quiet on the call. Did they know their boss was lying?
    Round three began around 10:30 A.M., as John finally mustered the courage to call his manager, Gail, to

    tell her that he had lost yet another top performer. Gail was not the shouting type. John could hear her
    disappointment in the stilted gaps of silence. He couldn’t help feeling like a schoolboy in the principal’s
    office as she began a piercing inquisition about what had happened: What signs of Holly’s resignation
    should he have seen? How was he going to position this with the rest of the team? What was he doing
    about Holly’s top five accounts? None of his answers seemed good enough for Gail, and the twenty-
    minute conversation felt more like two hours.
    It was round four with the HR manager that most left him reeling. His career aspirations were slipping

    through his fingers. Everything he had been working so hard for all these years and the toll it had taken on
    his family and his friendships now seemed wasted.
    He found himself pacing his office when the bell rang for round five. It was the alert chime from his e-

    mail. He prayed it was spam. On a day like today, black market pharmaceuticals and shady investment
    advice would be a welcome change of pace. John clicked on the e-mail icon on his computer and
    discovered several new messages. One subject line caught his eye: EXIT INTERVIEW RESULTS.
    Opening the message, he could see the report was for Andy Ward, the sales rep he had lost about six

    weeks ago. His HR representative was required to pass along feedback received during Andy’s exit
    interview. John felt ill as he read the results: “I liked the company, and I liked the work, but I didn’t like
    working for John. He didn’t make me feel like I was part of a team. It always felt like a competition. I hate

    to say this, but John Doyle was the main reason I started looking for another job.”
    John burned with feelings of betrayal. Andy had fabricated some excuse about wanting to start his own

    business, and the whole departure had been very upbeat and civilized. John had even offered to serve as a
    reference for him. Now he knew the truth, and he wasn’t the only one. Surely this report was contributing
    to John’s ever-diminishing career prospects. The pounding of John’s heart seemed to shake his whole
    There was a timid knock on his door that he knew to be Cassie’s. John closed out of his e-mail program

    and tried to compose himself. “What?”
    Cassie poked her head in. “May I?”
    John waved an arm, motioning her in.
    “Sorry to bug you. It’s just—I didn’t know if you wanted me to do anything,” said Cassie.
    “About what?” John had been assaulted from so many fronts; he couldn’t imagine what she was talking

    “About Holly,” she said. “A few clients have called. I’m not quite sure what I should be telling them.”
    Something inside John snapped into place. A surge of adrenaline seemed to seize him, dragging his

    body from the dark caverns of his mind. It was time for action. If he was going to survive this day, he’d
    have to step up and start swinging.
    “Route her calls to me,” he said. “In the meantime, I need you to print me a list of her clients with

    contact information and annual sales.”
    He grabbed the phone and began to dial.
    “Year-to-date?” she asked as she made her way to the door. But he had already turned away. With a roll

    of her eyes, Cassie left him alone.
    “Hi. Walter Freeman, please,” he said into the phone. “Yes, John Doyle.”
    John’s knee began to bounce rapidly, as he was put on hold. Walter Freeman was John’s oldest customer

    and his biggest. John had landed the account as a hungry, naive young kid, right out of college. Walter had
    relented to John’s persistence, mostly because he was entertained by him—impressed by what he called
    John’s “gumption.” In the years that followed, Walter had become something of a mentor and friend. John
    was a frequent guest at business parties, and Walter had even invited Nancy and him to join him for an
    overnight cruise on his yacht. But that was years ago. John’s rise to sales manager left little time for
    account management, so he placed Walter’s business in the capable hands of his brightest salesman. But
    six weeks earlier, John had been forced to explain to Walter why Andy would no longer be representing
    his account. And as luck would have it, Holly had been Andy’s replacement. It was time for major damage
    The other line was answered by Walter’s assistant. “Walter Freeman’s office.”
    “Hi, Florence. It’s John Doyle. Can I speak to Walter?”
    “I’m afraid not. He’s in a meeting.”
    “Do you know when he’ll be out?”
    “Four thirty, but he won’t be able to call you back. He’s jumping straight into a taxi to make a six thirty

    to Chicago.”
    John placed the receiver to his forehead, squinting in frustration.
    “I can leave him a message,” she offered apologetically.
    John looked at his watch and hung up the phone without leaving a message. He haphazardly tossed the

    array of papers from his desk into his briefcase and launched from his chair.

    John drummed the steering wheel of his aging BMW. There was no music, only the endless monologue

    of his thoughts, drowning out the muffled noise of the city streets surrounding his parked car. The
    downtown headquarters of Freeman-Davis Group occupied a building that stretched well above John’s
    line of sight. In his parking spot near the main entrance, he began to wonder if this was what a stalker felt
    like—an uneasy fusion of adrenaline and boredom.
    He debated how Walter might interpret his unannounced appearance. In the end, though, John figured it

    was this kind of assertiveness that cemented their personal and professional relationship in the first place.
    And the fact was that John couldn’t afford to lose Walter’s business.
    Finally, he saw the old man push through the front doors. Walter had to be seventy years old by now, but

    he still exuded that special something that made people look his way and ask, “Who’s that guy?” John
    often wondered whether this aura came as a result of Walter’s success or whether it was the reason for his
    success. Either way, it was impressive to behold.
    John got out of his car just as Walter’s taxi pulled up to the curb.
    “Mr. Freeman!” John shouted. The street noise was louder than he had realized. He began to jog.

    The taxi driver was taking the suitcase before Walter noticed John approaching.
    “My God, Johnny. Is that you?”
    “How are you, sir?” John asked as Walter offered a hug.
    “Fine. Just fine,” he replied. “What are you doing on this side of town?”
    “I was hoping to talk to you.”
    “No can do, son. Got a plane to catch.”
    “Let me drive you,” John replied.
    The taxi driver was about to close the lid of the trunk. He shot dagger eyes at John. “Naw, naw, naw. No

    way, man.”
    John shoved two twenty-dollar bills into the driver’s shirt pocket and yanked Walter’s suitcase from the


    John eased his car onto the clogged freeway and cursed under his breath. John could feel Walter

    watching him. He glanced over and saw the calm grin of a man who expected everything to go his way
    and was rarely proved wrong.
    “Why are you really here?” Walter asked, studying John’s face.
    “I just felt really terrible about—”
    Walter interrupted. “Yeah, yeah. Holly flew the coop. You feel like a schmuck. I heard you the first

    time.” Walter had a way of being brutally honest that somehow made you feel completely safe yet
    completely exposed. “What went wrong with Holly?”
    “I honestly don’t know,” John admitted, his tone a little too defensive for his own taste. “She was

    making a boatload of money. Topped all the sales contests. I told her every day she was a superstar. Hell,
    that’s why I wanted her on your account.”
    “Is she you?”
    “Excuse me?”
    “You just listed all the reasons she should have been happy with her job,” Walter explained, “but those

    are your reasons. What were her reasons? What were the other kid’s reasons?”
    “Was he you?”
    “No,” John exclaimed, frustrated. “It’s sales, Walter. It’s goal, target, lock ‘n’ load.”
    “To you.”
    “Well, that’s the most effective way.”
    Walter smiled and watched the lane of cars next to him ease slowly by.
    John hated the riddles. Why couldn’t people just say what they meant? Walter made you work for

    everything. John imagined that he made panhandlers answer questions before dropping a dollar bill in
    their cup. Now Walter’s silence was killing him. “Well, isn’t it?” John asked.
    “All I know is you’re quickly running out of soldiers, Lieutenant.”
    The rest of the trip was silent. John wasn’t angry, but he was again deep in his own head, orchestrating a

    flurry of thoughts and internal debates. As they pulled up to the curb next to the terminal, Walter pulled a
    business card from his suit pocket, flipped it over, and began to write.
    “You want to know the secret to success, son?”
    “A creative CPA?” John joked.
    Walter finished writing and clicked his pen. “Strategy, diplomas, business plans, loopholes in the

    federal tax code—all great. Important stuff. But the lifeblood of any organization is people. Our lives in
    general are all about people. You got conflict in your life? You’re choking off your blood supply. Your
    success is going to turn blue and fall off. By the looks of it, I’d say it’s already looking a bit periwinkle.”
    Walter handed John the card and climbed out of the car. On the back Walter had written a phone number

    followed by the words: Have a Nice Conflict. John groaned at the sight of another damn riddle. Walter
    pulled his suitcase out of the back seat.
    “What’s this supposed to be?” John asked through the open door.
    “Tell them I sent you.”
    “Tell who?”
    “Thanks for the ride, Johnny,” he said, wearing a wry grin. “Enjoy yours.”
    With a tap of the roof, Walter turned and disappeared into the crowd.

    Chapter Two

    It didn’t look like much, but the pale, wet hot dog was all John had time for. He accepted it from the
    vendor with a frown and slathered it with mustard and ketchup. With his cell phone wedged between his
    ear and shoulder, John was juggling a call with his manager, Gail—his second run-in with her that day.
    The dust cloud of the previous day had hit her office, and she wasn’t happy about it.
    “You’re one of my key sales managers, John,” she said in an even tone he found unnerving, “a key part

    of this system. When any part of this system breaks down, it’s me who has to explain it to upper
    “Do you think I wanted to get passed over again?”
    Gail was silent. John looked at his watch impatiently. He was due for his appointment in less than

    fifteen minutes, and all he could do was watch his meal get cold in his hand. He spotted an open spot on a
    park bench and sat down.
    “I know you’re a skilled salesperson,” she said finally. “One of the best I’ve worked with. But I’m just

    not sure management is where you can be most effective.”
    “That’s not true,” he countered, hoping she wouldn’t push him for proof.
    “There are certain people skills—”
    “Sales is all about people skills,” he interrupted.
    She went silent again. John pictured her counting to ten in her head. “John, clearly managing people

    requires a certain…finesse. Building relationships where people are motivated. Where uncomfortable
    situations are handled appropriately.”
    “I’m working on it,” he said.
    He didn’t fully know the answer himself. He had called the number Walter had given him but had no

    idea what lay before him. He despised operating this way—with his eyes closed, not in control. Have a
    nice conflict. That’s all he had to go on. He checked his watch again. Ten minutes until his appointment. “I
    gotta go, Gail. Can we talk about this when I get back to the office?”
    “I’ll be in all afternoon,” she sighed.
    John hung up and exhaled heavily. He finally noticed the man sitting next to him on the bench, enjoying a

    hot dog of his own. They exchanged a cordial nod, and John took a long-awaited bite of his cold lunch.
    “You know,” the man said. “They say the soft stuff is harder than the hard stuff.”
    “Excuse me?” John asked.
    “The soft skills. People skills.”
    John dug deep into his own skill set to keep from telling the man to mind his own business. He took

    another bite. “People skills,” John scoffed.
    “Sore subject,” the man concluded. “Sorry.”
    “No it’s just—” John could feel himself getting wound up. “If you knew this woman, you’d laugh at the

    thought of her preaching people skills. ‘Bout as cold and reserved as you can get. She could win the
    lottery, and you’d be lucky to notice her raise her eyebrows.”
    John’s hot dog fell to the concrete. He was known to talk with his hands, and a lost dog was today’s

    result. “Of course,” said John, exasperated.

    “Oh, jeez. Here, let me buy you another,” the man offered.
    “Thanks, but that’s okay. I don’t have much of an appetite anyway.” John stood up, checked his pants for

    errant condiments, nodded to the man, and went on his way.
    “Have a nice day,” the man called out as John headed across the street.
    Yeah, right, John thought.

    “Please make yourself comfortable, Mr. Doyle. Dr. Mac should be in any minute,” sang the peppy young

    As John stepped toward the overstuffed chair closest to the door, his blood pressure rose slightly.

    Doctor? He still had no idea what he was in for. There was no name on the door or above the reception
    desk. The only signage was a bright yellow happy face, a logo far too casual for the surroundings. The
    office gracing the seventh floor was beautiful and intimidatingly well appointed, but too much so. Real
    work couldn’t possibly be done in this office.
    “Can I get you anything? Coffee? Water? A soda maybe?”
    He was tempted to ask for a hot dog. “No thanks.”
    “All righty then,” she chirped in a voice far too cheery for John’s taste. He didn’t trust people who put

    that much syrup in their voice.
    Suddenly the door swung open, and John was startled to see the man from the park bench. They

    recognized each other instantly.
    “Well, isn’t this a small world,” the man said.
    “You’re Dr. Mac?” John asked.
    “Mac Wilson. You can call me Mac.” He extended a hand, which John took after a brief struggle getting

    himself out of the chair.
    “John Doyle.”
    John noticed immediately that Mac possessed the same presence that Walter had—both were larger than

    life. Although Mac was average in every physical way, he somehow seemed taller, broader, and more
    Mac led John to his office. No fluorescent tubes in here. Natural light flooded the large room from two

    walls of windows overlooking downtown. John scanned the office with equal parts envy and esteem. A
    large mahogany desk in front of a matching credenza supported a huge flat-screen computer monitor. All
    the signs of professional success were present and accounted for. On the one free wall, framed diplomas
    and certificates of achievement shared real estate with personal photos of happy, attractive people,
    grinning as if they had all just won a game show. John stood near the door, arms crossed.
    “You look worried,” Mac said.
    “No, I’m just…I gotta be honest. I have no idea what’s going on or what…. I mean, what is this,

    “Therapy? No. Definitely not therapy.” Mac motioned to the black leather couch. “Would you care to lie

    John looked out toward the hall, planning his escape.
    “I’m kidding,” Mac assured him, smiling broadly. “Why don’t we get out of here. Let me buy you lunch.

    You must be starving.”
    “Truth is, I prefer to be out of this stuffy office as much as possible.”

    “You should see my office,” John said.
    “When your business is people, it makes more sense to be out with the people.”
    “So you’re in the people business,” John concluded, not quite realizing what that meant.
    “Everyone is in the people business. Name me a line of work where people aren’t involved.”
    John’s mind immediately jumped to the challenge, as he searched through his brain. But he came up with

    no answer.
    Mac smiled.

    Mac’s pace made John anxious. Mac never rose above a stroll as he and John walked block after block

    on the crowded city streets. John always walked with purpose. The way he saw it, if you were moving,
    you’d better leave a breeze in your wake.
    “You married, John?”
    “Fourteen years.”
    “Congratulations. That’s success.”
    John shrugged. He hadn’t thought of it that way, but after a day like yesterday, he welcomed any

    recognition of a win.
    “And your work? Gail is your boss?”
    John looked at him, surprised.
    Mac noted the look and smiled, “I pay attention. My wife calls it being nosey. Comes with the territory,

    I guess.”
    “And what territory is that? What exactly is it you do?”
    “I do conflict,” Mac replied.
    “Sounds like a terrible job.”
    “If you judge the term by its stereotype, sure. But I define conflict by its potential—the potential to be

    prevented or its potential to be beneficial. If you see conflict as this big, ugly, five-headed beast, that’s
    what conflict will always look like to you.”
    “But how do you ‘do’ conflict?” John asked.
    “Because I’m in control of it. I do conflict. It doesn’t do me. I’m not a victim of it.”
    As John let that sink in, Mac abruptly turned into a small café. John could see why Mac liked the place.

    It opened out onto the street corner, and every table seemed to invite in the bustle of people going about
    their lives. Mac found a table by the window, and they sat down.
    “Sorry, Doc,” John said. “What you’re saying is interesting and all, but you still haven’t answered my

    question. What do you do? For me?”
    “What do you want to do?” Mac asked. He noticed the frustration welling up in John’s face and

    continued, “Let me get right to the point for you.”
    John wanted to say, Finally! Why couldn’t the world communicate in bullet points?
    “My work is built around understanding people,” Mac said. “Whatever that may look like for an

    individual or an organization. I ask, ‘What do you want to do?’ and I help them achieve it by exposing the
    people part of the equation. I help people master the ultimate skill.”
    “Soft skills.”
    “I see you pay attention too.” Mac nodded. “Soft skills—the hardest skills of them all. Something we’re

    not formally taught growing up. We just have to make do.”
    “Barreling through life,” said John.

    “Like a bull in a china shop. The bull may get through the shop, but at what cost?”
    John smiled grimly at the analogy. He’d always pictured himself as a bull. He liked the image—strong,

    formidable, an icon of success. Until now, he’d never connected the image to the china shop cliché.
    “What is it costing you, John? Being the bull?”
    John laughed—a shallow, self-effacing acknowledgment. He suddenly wanted to call up Walter

    Freeman and thank him for connecting him to this quirky guy with the funny logo.
    “That’s what I can do for you.” Mac grinned, seeing in John’s eyes the shift from suspicion to


    As the two men ate their late lunch, John recounted the events that had transpired the day before. He

    detailed his role at Starr Industries managing ten sales reps who sold Starr products across the state. He
    boasted about his crew—they almost always hit their numbers—and about the awards he had received
    over the years. He was ready to move up the ladder, and had been for the past two years. But twice now,
    he’d been passed over for a promotion—passed over by people who had less experience and weaker
    “Sounds like you work hard and get the job done,” Mac said.
    “Work my tail off,” John stated, proudly.
    “Unfortunately for you, you’re not working in a vacuum. Your approach seems to be piling up a bit of

    relationship carnage in its path.”
    “Look, Doc, sales is a tough business. Sometimes I drive my people pretty hard. I don’t let the bean

    counters in the home office push me around either. I’ve been at Starr long enough to know what we need,
    so when I don’t get it, I make some noise. It’s like my dad used to say, ‘Sometimes you’ve got to break a
    few eggs to make an omelet.’ ”
    Mac grinned. “The omelets here are amazing, by the way.”
    John nodded, pretending to care.
    Mac continued, “I remember you saying, ‘Sales is all about people skills.’ Clearly you’re a great

    salesperson. So tell me about the people skills you use with potential customers.”
    “Well, you get to know what they need. What they want. Figure out how to match that with what I have

    to sell.”
    “Exactly,” said Mac.
    “Okay?” John felt he’d missed the point.
    “That’s an approach you’ve had success with, and I don’t hear any eggs breaking there,” said Mac. He

    leaned in. “What if I could help you make your omelets without breaking nearly as many eggs? In other
    words, what if I could teach you how to manage conflict and build relationships in ways that lead to better
    “Oh, I get the results,” said John, defensively.
    “You’ve hit your sales goals, true. But what about the other results you’ve been talking about? What

    about having a team of excited, motivated sales reps? What about that elusive promotion? I’m seeing a
    few too many eggshells on your floor.”
    John leaned back in his chair, sighed, “Okay, fine. I’m sold.”
    “Ah! The seller becomes the sellee,” joked Mac.
    “What’s this going to cost me?”

    “Come again?”
    “It’s taken care of,” said Mac, flagging down the waitress.
    “How is that possible?”
    “Well, Walter Freeman seems to think an awful lot of you.”
    “He paid for me?”
    Mac smiled warmly. “He and I have been working together long enough for him to see this as an

    investment. I don’t think he has a single executive in his organization I haven’t spent a little time with at
    some point.”
    John was overwhelmed. He wasn’t one of Walter’s executives; he was just a vendor, a friend. John

    didn’t have a whole lot of people he could call friends, and this act of selflessness made him regret that.
    “This adventure is going to take some of that hard work of yours,” Mac continued. “I’d like to meet five

    times over the next few weeks.”
    “In your office?”
    “No, there are better ways of facilitating change than you and me staring at each other in my office.

    We’ll mix it up.”
    “Where at?”
    Mac laughed, “All right, John. I know you hate being in the dark, but work with me on this. I’ll let you

    know. Just trust me.”
    “Trust?” John chuckled. “Guess the hard work is starting already.”
    “Give my assistant, Jenny, a call later this afternoon. She’ll explain the inventories I’d like you to

    complete before we get back together. She’ll also set up the appointment for us and give you the location.”
    John nodded and forced a smile to hide his uneasiness.
    “Ready to have a nice conflict?” asked Mac.
    “Sure,” John drawled. “I can’t wait.”
    “You’re lying, of course, but I appreciate your enthusiasm.” Mac flashed a bright smile and gave John a

    playful slap on his back.

    Chapter Three

    I Can’t believe you have to work on a Saturday morning.”
    John’s wife, Nancy, placed a plate of scrambled eggs in front of him while he sat with their kids at the

    kitchen table.
    “You have to work?” asked John Jr., their eight-year-old son.
    “It’s not work, J.J.,” explained John. “I have a doctor’s appointment.”
    “Are you sick, Daddy?” asked three-year-old Emma.
    Nancy took her seat at the table between the two kids. She reached out and gave each of their arms a

    gentle squeeze. “No, Daddy’s fine.” She shot John a look.
    He didn’t need the scolding. He had already regretted his word choice. “It’s a work doctor. I’m just

    getting some extra help.”
    “Like a tutor?” asked J.J.
    “Yeah, I guess. Like a tutor.”
    Nancy frowned. “I just don’t understand why it has to be on the weekend. You work hard enough as it is.

    The weekend is our time.”
    “I know it is,” said John. “I’m just—”
    He looked away, shaking his head, unable and unwilling to complete his thought. He still hadn’t built up

    the nerve to admit to Nancy that he’d lost the promotion again. Now the confession seemed inevitable.
    “What’s going on, hon?” asked Nancy gently.
    John looked into her eyes and recognized her genuine concern. He couldn’t ignore the soft urgency in her

    look. John shifted in his chair, “I had my meeting with HR.”
    She instantly put the pieces together—his distance, the sour mood. “I’m so sorry, John.”
    “What?” asked J.J.
    John exhaled deeply. “I was hoping to get a new job at work, but it didn’t happen.”
    “Why didn’t you tell me?” asked Nancy, warmly.
    John looked away. She stood and moved behind his chair, wrapping her arms around his neck in an

    “It’s going to be fine, honey,” said Nancy. “It’s just a dumb promotion. We’d love you if you were the

    John stood, breaking Nancy’s hug. “That’s not the point, Nance. That promotion is important to me.”
    “I know it is. I just want you to know that we’re here for you, no matter what. Starr Industries is just a

    job, you know.”
    “It’s my life.”
    “It’s a part of your life. Just like we’re part of your life—a part I wish you’d remember a little more

    often,” pleaded Nancy. “We care about you.”
    “I’m running late. I have to go,” said John, taking his plate to the sink.
    “Is this appointment of yours going to help you with your anger issues?”
    “I don’t have anger issues,” replied John sharply, his tone countering his words. He retreated from the

    room, but Nancy trailed close behind.
    “I’m just trying to help. I want you to be happy,” said Nancy. “I’m just wondering if the anger may be

    contributing to your, you know, struggles at your job.”
    John tried to silence her with a look. It didn’t take.
    Nancy continued, delicately. “I see you work so hard. I wonder if the stress of it all causes you maybe

    to rub people the wrong way.”
    “Well, who knows?” said John, roughly. “That’s why I’m going. On a Saturday. Stealing our ‘us’ time.”
    “I’m sorry. I’m just frustrated.” John turned to her and saw the concern in her eyes. It softened something

    within him. “I feel like there’s so much I want to do with my life—so much I’m capable of. I’ve been told
    since high school I was a leader—that I can take charge of a situation and get people moving. That’s what
    gets my blood pumping. But here I am, feeling like some dolt, stuck in the same job for four years, with
    my future looking bleaker every day.”
    “John, you know that I love you and want you to be happy. Got that?” She took him into a tight embrace.
    “I know, honey. That’s one thing I know for sure.”
    “You go see your conflict doctor, and we’ll be here when you get home.”
    John gave Nancy a peck on the cheek and left her standing in the doorway, a worried smile on her face.

    “Turn right on Fairhaven; proceed to destination,” said the female voice with a tinge of English accent.

    John welcomed the reminder from the GPS on his dashboard. He had spent most of the drive distracted—
    his mind awash with thoughts of his wife and kids. Nancy had never understood the ambition that pulsed
    through his veins. It was like a foreign language to her. Sure, she had her interests. In fact, now that Emma
    was in preschool, Nancy had started putting herself out there again, looking for freelance work. But it
    looked more like a hobby to John. Nancy was just missing the drive he knew was crucial to really
    succeed in the business world. Maybe if she understood that, she wouldn’t make him feel so guilty about
    working so hard.
    “Arriving at destination,” said his dashboard.
    John looked up at the sign in front of him: Fairhaven Village Apartments. 1 & 2 Bedroom Units

    Available for Lease. Could this be right? He checked the address against what was in the e-mail from
    Jenny, Dr. Mac’s assistant. Yup. Everything appeared to match up.
    The building looked more like a hotel circa 1940, with large, stone walls that had long since been

    painted. At four stories tall, John guessed it housed around fifty apartments. The tall, ornate ironwork that
    separated the building’s atrium from the street hinted at its past glory. Now the dilapidated structure was
    likely home to struggling single moms, immigrant families, and a few college kids. He thought it unlikely
    that Mac called this place home. So what was he doing here? He repeated Mac’s words to himself: Just
    trust me.
    As John walked through the gate into the open-air center of the building, he could hear a baby’s cry over

    the sounds of daytime television. The modest pool in the center was deserted except for a small family of
    ducks. There was no sign of Dr. Mac. To his immediate right, John noticed a door labeled Management
    Office. He stepped inside the small, wood-paneled waiting room and was assaulted by the smells of
    curry, cigarette smoke, and flowery perfume. He pressed the illuminated button next to a Ring for Service
    sign and waited.
    After what felt like an eternity, a frosted glass window slid open. The sixty-something woman behind

    the glass was startling to behold in her heavy-handed makeup and ruffled orange blouse. “Morning, sugar.
    Can I help you?” she asked.

    “God, I hope so,” John replied. “I’m supposed to meet a Mac Wilson here.”
    “Oh, you’ve come to the right place, darlin’. I’m Dolly. Macky’s my nephew. He’s putzin’ around in the

    boiler room, I think. Big metal door at the bottom of the stairs.” She motioned to the stairwell door behind
    As John made his way down the dank concrete staircase, he heard a muffled pounding echoing below.

    He couldn’t help but question the doctor’s sanity. Then again, maybe he should be questioning his own
    sanity for going along with this. He tried to imagine Walter Freeman descending these stairs. Would the
    old titan of industry have been forced to knock on this massive rusty door like a thirsty laborer trying to
    get in to some dodgy speakeasy?
    But here it was, his turn. The door looked too substantial for a simple knock, so he used the edge of a

    quarter he pulled from his pocket, which made a distinct clicking sound, one he hoped could be heard
    over the hammering and music coming from within.
    After several taps, the hammering stopped, and the door creaked open. It took a few moments for John

    to recognize Mac in his tattered jeans and paint-splattered Mötley Crüe T-shirt, a stark contrast from the
    tailored black suit he had last seen him wearing.
    “Mr. Doyle!” said Mac grinning. “Welcome to my weekend office.”
    “Morning, Doc,” said John, tentatively. He entered the dark, cavernous room, the belly of the beast.

    Pipes and ductwork trailed away like veins from the giant furnace and boiler. The equipment looked
    ancient, but the hot glow of flame denoted signs of life. Mac led him to a separate workshop off to the
    side. From the glow of the bare light bulbs that hung from the ceiling, John could see racks of paint cans, a
    bin with scraps of wood, a ladder hanging from the ceiling, and three matching Buick hubcaps nailed to
    the wall.
    “Love what you’ve done with the place,” said John.
    “Well, my regular designer was out of town when I moved in,” Mac retorted with a wink. “Actually I

    inherited this building from my grandfather about fifteen years ago. Still do a lot of the routine
    maintenance and the occasional repair or update.”
    “So what now? Is this where you strap me down and beat the conflict out of me?”
    “What happened to that promise of trust?” said Mac, grinning.
    “You have to admit that it’s a little dungeonesque down here.”
    Mac looked around. “I guess you’re right. I’ve spent so many years in this workshop, I don’t even think

    about it. When my grandpa ran the place, I was here helping him out after school, on weekends, during
    summer breaks—I practically grew up here from middle school, all the way through graduate school.”
    As Mac spoke, he screwed a pipe fitting onto a long, flat appliance he had resting across two

    sawhorses. John didn’t recognize it and couldn’t make out any of the labeling on the cardboard box and
    packing materials littering the floor. Mac went to one end and motioned to the other, “Can you grab the
    other side? I need to flip this over.”
    John followed orders.
    John gave up trying to identify the appliance. He was more interested in finding out why he was in the

    bowels of this crumbling building. He crossed his arms and leaned roughly against the cluttered
    workbench. Mac eyed him and put down the instruction manual he was flipping through.
    “A lot of what I know about conflict I learned right here in this building,” said Mac.
    “Oh, yeah? How’s that?”

    Mac motioned around him, “It’s a virtual petri dish of conflict.”
    John pulled away from the workbench.
    “Don’t worry. You won’t get any on you,” laughed Mac. “I just mean that over the years, being around

    this place, I’ve seen everything you could imagine when it comes to conflict between people.”
    “Why? Is it haunted?” asked John, only half-kidding.
    “No.” Mac smiled. “But when my grandpa bought this bankrupt hotel in 1970, he had no idea what he

    was getting into. He had just retired after thirty-five years in banking and figured converting the old place
    into apartments would be a great investment and keep him busy. He wasn’t exactly the rocking chair type.
    And I’m sure it looked good on paper. But the ol’ Fairhaven Hotel was built in 1939. Walls were as thick
    as tissue paper. A tenant couldn’t sneeze without hearing ‘bless you’ from the next-door neighbor.”
    “So you’ve seen your share of noise complaints.”
    “Ha! First thing I did when I took over was reinforce all the walls between the units. Cost me a

    “I can imagine.”
    “It was worth it, though,” said Mac. “One of my favorite ways to deal with conflict is to prevent it, keep

    it from even happening. Getting those walls fixed is a great example of the benefits of conflict. There was
    an issue, people felt strongly enough about it to raise the issue, and in the end, everyone is happier with
    the outcome. My tenants have a better living experience, and I have a more valuable investment.” Mac
    screwed another PVC elbow to the mystery appliance, “Even this thing is an example of great outcomes of
    “Yeah? What is it?”
    “Tankless water heater. I’m installing them in each of the units to replace the boiler. The old girl needs a

    lot of work. Expensive work. And after years of complaints about not enough hot water, I figured out I can
    modernize the system in a way that makes everyone happy and pays for itself in the long run. Conflict can
    be an opportunity to step back, assess the situation, find creative solutions.”
    “So how come your grandfather never reinforced the walls?”
    “He wanted to. He just got too old to take on the project. And by that time, I was making my way in the

    business world.”
    “So he just took the complaints for all those years?”
    “He did. But it was never a problem for him. He was a master conflict manager. His tenants loved him.

    He just knew how to deal with it all.”
    “And how was that?” asked John, praying for a silver bullet answer.
    Mac smiled. “Well, that depends.”
    John slumped back. “You’re killing me, Doc.”
    “Seriously. It’s an important point, John. The answer is, ‘It depends.’ There’s no one-size-fits-all

    answer,” explained Mac. “The way he’d deal with apartment 3B would be completely different from how
    he’d deal with 4A or 2F.”
    “Let me guess,” said John. “Back to people skills.”
    “Turns out the skill that made him a successful bank manager for three decades was the most important

    skill he needed as the landlord here. It takes the ability to work well with people—to help people feel
    worthwhile and meet them where they’re at. It’s the only way you’re ever going to influence them. He made
    it a point to build relationships wherever he could and taught me to do the same.”
    Mac wiped his hands on a rag and moved toward the doorway. “Check this out,” he said as he

    disappeared into the boiler room.
    John found Mac standing in front of the big metal door, looking at the large plaque that hung above it. In

    hand-carved letters, it read: “The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing
    how to get along with people.—Theodore Roosevelt.”
    “Every time my grandpa would leave to interact with the people upstairs, this would serve as a

    reminder,” said Mac with a flash of melancholy. Mac was surrounded by traces of his grandfather, but this
    plaque appeared to be the most significant to him.
    John sensed the emotional moment but didn’t quite know what to do with it. “Good stuff,” was all he

    could come up with.
    Mac smiled, still staring at the plaque. “I think so. Teddy Roosevelt was his favorite U.S. president. He

    read books about him, had a big framed photo on the wall next to his desk. He quoted the guy all the time.
    But this quote was the most meaningful to him. This was the one he drilled into me all those summers and
    weekends growing up.”
    Mac finally looked at John, waiting for him to make eye contact. “You see, my Grandpa knew that it

    took a lot more than being good at a job to achieve success.”
    Mac returned to his workshop, letting those words sink in. John recalled the countless times he had

    bragged about his skills as a salesman to himself and to others. It had served as a “get out of jail free”
    card for him for years. How many times had people at work let him get away with his rougher edges
    because he was a star salesman? John frowned as he thought about it. Whatever the number, it was clear
    to him that being the star had lost much of its cachet over the past few years. He missed it and wanted the
    feeling back. And if hanging out in a seventy-year-old basement with Dr. Mötley Crüe on a Saturday
    morning was going to help him regain a little shine, then so be it.
    John found Mac back at work on the water heater. “Okay, so it’s all about getting along with people,”

    said John. “Sounds easier said than done. Or is it just me who’s banging my head against a wall?”
    “No. You’re not alone, John. Working with people can be tricky. Even for me. My grandfather was the

    best I’ve ever seen, and even he struggled. Of course, here, he could just evict the person,” said Mac with
    a wink.
    “Hard to evict a wife or a boss,” said John.
    “True. That’s why it’s important to always be working to get better at dealing with people. Getting along

    with people is not always easy, but I can help make it a whole lot easier than it is now.”
    “Wish it didn’t have to be so frustrating,” said John.
    “Why do you suppose it is, John?”
    “Because most people are insane,” laughed John.
    Mac didn’t mirror John’s smile. “Seriously. Why do you think people are so hard to understand?”
    John thought a second. “Because we have no idea what’s going on inside their head.”
    Mac smiled broadly. “Precisely.” He held up the instruction manual for the tankless water heater. “You

    know, it’s funny—whenever you buy anything new, it almost always comes with an owner’s manual. Yet
    with people, who are much more complicated and dynamic than any piece of equipment, we’ve got to
    figure them out on our own. We don’t get an owner’s manual for our relationships.”
    “That’s what you need to put together: an instruction manual for people,” said John.
    “Well, in a way it already exists. Remember those assessments I had you take?”
    “Then what are we supposed to do to figure people out? Make them take a test?” asked John.
    “That would be nice, but no. The key is trying to identify why people do what they do. The challenge is

    that most of what we have to go on involves watching what they do. We can see their behavior, but it’s
    more worthwhile to understand their reason for using the behavior—their intent or motivation. Take the
    behavior of ambition. I know this is something you find important. But why is it important to you?”
    “Ambition? It just is. Always has been,” replied John.
    “Okay. Good to note. But think about it. What is it about being ambitious that appeals to you?”
    John thought for a moment, “I like the feeling of being the best at something. I like having a goal and then

    beating it. I guess ambition helps push me to get those things.”
    “Perfect. So for you, the use of ambition as a behavior helps you to fulfill your motivation of being the

    best and achieving your goals.”
    “I suppose so, yeah.”
    “So let’s look at another example of ambition. Do you remember General Norman Schwarzkopf?”
    “Sure. Stormin’ Norman,” John said.
    “Best-known American general since World War II. Known to be aggressive, direct, and

    confrontational. But those are behaviors. His motivation might surprise you. While you may use ambition
    to be the best and reach your goals, Schwarzkopf used ambition for entirely different reasons. Did you
    know he was so disgruntled with the state of the army after Vietnam that he almost left the military? But
    after much soul searching, he realized he needed to stay. He figured that if he moved up the ranks, he
    could help the army and restore its reputation in the eyes of the American public. The guy was tough but
    caring—always thinking about the welfare of his troops. Schwarzkopf used ambition in support of
    “So what are you saying? My ambition is selfish?”
    “Not at all,” said Mac. “I’m just making the distinction that ambition is a behavior. It’s a tool that both

    you and Schwarzkopf use effectively. But you’re using it for different reasons than he did.”
    Mac went to a battered metal tool chest that stood nearly five feet tall. He slid out the top drawer and

    removed a large, flathead screwdriver. “Take this screwdriver. One tool, but I use it to open paint cans
    and turn screws. I even use it as a chisel in a pinch. One tool—several different motivations for using it.
    So in the case of people, we can look at their behavior, but it’s not the whole story, is it?”
    “You can’t judge a book by its behavior,” said John.
    “Precisely,” said Mac. “Behaviors are the tools we choose and use to support our self-worth.”
    “What do you mean by ‘self-worth?’ ”
    “Our underlying motivation or set of values. Those things that make us feel good about ourselves and

    make us feel that we’re contributing.”
    “And I feel good about myself when I’m getting things done and excelling and being in charge,” offered

    John somewhat defensively.
    “So you most often will pick the tool that you feel will be most successful at getting you those feelings.”
    “Makes sense,” John agreed as he took a seat on a creaky stool.
    “Excellent. So let’s look at the results of one of the assessments I had you complete.” Mac poked around

    his messy workshop, looking under cardboard scraps until he found his briefcase hidden under a pile of
    bubble wrap. From inside, he removed a paper. “Remember this?”
    John instantly recognized the diamond-shaped pattern of squares. “Sure. That was my ranking of

    strengths, right?”
    “For the sake of this conversation, you can look at personal strengths like behaviors. They represent the

    different ways a person can interact with others to achieve self-worth. When a person tries one of these

    strengths and has success with it, he uses it more often than the others. Other strengths might have
    rendered poor results, and so he might tend to use those less and less. Over time, we all develop a set of
    go-to strengths. They become our modus operandi.”
    “Okay. So what’s my MO?” asked John, with a mischievous grin.
    “Well, based on the way you prioritized your strengths, you are probably most comfortable operating in

    the realm of self-confidence, competitiveness, and, of course, our old friend, ambition. You also like to
    be fair, quick to act, and principled.”
    “Are those good?” asked John.
    “All of the strengths are valuable, so it’s not a question of whether they are good or bad,” replied Mac.

    “These are the strengths you identified as being most like you and therefore the ones you use often to boost
    your sense of self-worth. You’re most likely to rely on these top six because you’re most comfortable with
    them in your interactions with others.”
    “I’d say that’s true,” agreed John.
    “Now down here, at the bottom of your chart, you placed cautious, tolerant, caring, socializer,

    adaptable, and experimenter. I would venture to guess that it can be difficult for you to use those
    strengths and not much fun when you feel like you have to.”
    “Horrible,” replied John. “What about all those strengths in the middle? Those were kinda tough to

    “That would make sense. We all have a good sense for the strengths we’re most comfortable with and

    those that are most unlike us, but the strengths in the middle—they actually offer the greatest
    “Opportunities? How do you figure?” asked John, intrigued.
    “Let me ask you a fundamental question, John,” said Mac, as he sat on the stool next to John. “Do you

    believe we choose our own behavior?”
    John thought for a moment, “I guess. Sure.”
    “Okay. Let’s make the question a little tougher,” continued Mac. “Do you believe that you always have

    the ability to choose your behavior?”
    “I don’t know. I know it doesn’t always feel as if I have a lot of choices.”
    Mac studied him for a minute. He then hopped off his stool and held up the screwdriver, “Remember

    our tool analogy?”
    “Behaviors are like tools,” said John.
    “Right!” Mac tapped the tool chest with the handle. “So let’s say this old tool chest represents me and

    all the behaviors or strengths I have to work with.”
    “Gee, Mac. You could use a coat of paint,” said John.
    Mac smiled. “What? And cover up all this charm? I’ve had this thing for thirty years.” He gave the giant

    tool chest a loving pat on the side.
    “So in the top drawers of this beauty,” continued Mac, “I keep the tools I use most—screwdrivers,

    pliers, adjustable wrenches, and my two favorite hammers.” Mac opened and closed the top two metal
    drawers. “They’re all here, right at eye level. Easy to get at and I use them often.”
    Mac opened a lid on the top of the chest and pulled out a leather tool belt loaded with tools, “In fact, I

    even have my tool belt that I keep with me all the time here. These tools are like my top strengths—they’re
    always with me when I’m working on a project upstairs. Think back to your top three strengths: self-
    confident, competitive, and ambitious. I bet those feel like they’re right in your back pocket, ready to

    whip out at a moment’s notice.”
    “Absolutely,” agreed John.
    Mac returned the tool belt and continued, “The tools I use less frequently are in these middle drawers:

    wrench and socket sets, crowbar, screen repair tools, and everything related to working with electricity
    are all here in the middle. I can use these tools when I need them, but I’m just not as confident with them
    as some of the others.”
    Mac crouched down and slid open the bottom two drawers. “I keep the tools I use the least here in the

    bottom. For the most part, they’re all of my plumbing tools and supplies. I hate to do plumbing, and I’m not
    good at it. In fact, I’ve made quite a few messes over the years trying to do plumbing projects. It’s just not
    something I’m good at.”
    “So those are like your bottom strengths,” said John.
    “Exactly,” said Mac. He stood and kicked the bottom drawers closed.
    “So what does your toolbox have to do with choosing behaviors?” asked John.
    “Do you see any locks on that chest?”
    “So no matter what I’m faced with, I have the ability to choose the right tool for the job.” Mac returned

    to his stool. “Let’s say I get a call from a tenant who needs a repair. The quickest, easiest thing to do
    would be to grab my tool belt and run upstairs. But if I don’t know what I’m dealing with, I may be
    unprepared to deal with the real issue. And if I go ahead and force myself to use whatever I happen to
    have in my tool belt, it may take me twice as long to fix the problem. Worse yet, I may do some damage.”
    “So you’re saying if I go into every situation using my top strengths every time, I’m causing conflict?”

    said John.
    “Your go-to strengths serve you well. After all, you wouldn’t keep using them if they didn’t work for

    you. But it’s important to remember that you have a whole tool chest of other options that may get you
    better results from time to time,” Mac grabbed John’s strength chart again and pointed to the center area.
    “All these strengths here in the center of your list—all these tools in your middle drawers—you don’t hate
    using these. They’re okay. These are your best opportunities to take on a situation or a relationship a little
    more prepared and with a little more deliberate choice.”
    “Sounds like work,” groaned John.
    “I thought you liked a challenge.”
    “I do. But I also like to get things done quickly.”
    “Does using a strength that’s easy for you but ends up damaging a relationship with an important person

    in your life help you reach your goals quicker?”
    John felt that question tear right through him.
    “And the fact is,” Mac continued, “it doesn’t have to be challenging or time-consuming. Like anything

    else, once you know how to do it and what to look for, it becomes second nature. You start to see people
    not by what they do on the outside but by what you know is important to them. By what you know gives
    them their own self-worth. People are most effective when they choose a strength that enhances the self-
    worth of others while helping them achieve their own goals—their own self-worth.”
    “Sounds like a win-win,” said John.
    “Sounds like a productive, rewarding relationship,” agreed Mac. “I’m guessing you like being in charge,

    “Of course. Who doesn’t?”

    Mac made a pained face. John instantly understood his error. Seeing the world from another person’s
    perspective was going to take some effort.
    “Sorry,” said John. “What I meant to say was, ‘Yes, I, personally, love being in charge.’ ”
    “That’s what I thought you said,” said Mac with a smile. “All I’m asking you to do is take control—be in

    charge of your behavior. When you act in whatever way feels easy or convenient, you’re not taking charge
    of your actions. When you choose a behavior that’s right for the situation and the person you’re with,
    you’re in control of yourself. You’re running the show.”
    John laughed, “You sure know how to pull all my right levers.”
    “I’m just speaking your language—by knowing what’s important to you.”
    “So where’s the line between speaking my language and manipulation?” asked John with a sly grin.
    “Is the way I’m communicating with you making sense to you? Am I getting through to you and giving

    you what you want from our time together?”
    “Then I’ve achieved each of our goals by choosing behavior that works for both of us. It’s win-win,

    right?” asked Mac. “If I was in Japan and I knew how to speak Japanese, shouldn’t I do so? Wouldn’t I get
    better results? Is that manipulation?”
    “Not at all. It’s respect if it’s anything,” said Mac. “When we choose, we get to be in control of our

    “What if you choose the wrong behavior?” asked John.
    “It’s going to happen, sure. And there are consequences that come with the choices we make. With

    choice comes responsibility and accountability. When we choose to act a certain way, we also choose the
    result that comes from doing so. But more important, we’re influencing what happens in our relationships,
    so we can be more in control of our lives and our careers, which, I think, is why we’re working together.”
    John nodded, letting Mac’s words sink in. He thought about his mother, which he seldom did when

    facing issues in the world. It was always his father’s gems that felt branded on his brain. “It’s funny,” said
    John finally. “Growing up, my mother always used to say the same thing to me every time I left the house:
    ‘Make good choices, son.’ ”
    “Smart lady,” said Mac with a smile. “If we make good choices, we are more likely to have good

    outcomes. Poor choices—or worse, no choices—make us more likely to get poor results in our
    relationships, and that usually means we’re not getting what we want.”
    Just then, the old rotary phone hanging on the wall rang loudly, startling John.
    “Sorry about that. Had to make the ringer power tool–proof.” Mac answered. “Hello, Dolly. What’s

    up?” As he listened, his smile dissolved. “No, don’t do anything. I’ll be right up.” He hung up the phone
    and turned to John. “I have a tenant complaint to deal with.”
    “What? A noise complaint?” kidded John.
    “Yes, actually.”
    “So much for extra drywall.”
    “Want to join me?” asked Mac.
    “Why? Do you need backup?”
    John was joking, but Mac didn’t return the smile. He was already on the move. John wondered if Mac

    was busy packing his mental tool belt.

    “I’m calling the damn cops.” The phrase seemed out of place coming from the short, frail, elderly
    woman Mac introduced as Mabel Grimes. John guessed she was in her nineties but she looked to have the
    energy of a woman half her age.
    Mac sat down with her in the lobby of the management office. “Mabel, tell me what the problem is.”
    John tried to look inconspicuous lurking in the doorway.
    “It’s that hoodlum from next door,” snapped Mabel. “I swear, he’s trying to make me go deaf with that

    horrible noise.”
    “Kraig playing his guitar again?” Mac looked over at Dolly, who watched from the sliding window

    smoking a cigarette. They shared a frown.
    Mabel sighed dramatically, “I traveled all through the night coming home from visiting my grandkids,

    and I don’t think it’s too much to expect some peace and quiet when I get into my own apartment.”
    “Not at all, Mabel. I completely understand why you’re upset; I’ll deal with it right away.” With that,

    Mac stood. “Okay?”
    “Thank you, Theodore,” said Mabel.
    Two minutes later, John was following Mac up the staircase. As they passed the level 2 door, John

    couldn’t hold it back any longer, “Theodore?”
    “What do you want?” said Mac, “She’s ninety-two.”
    “So what’s the story with this Kraig guy?” asked John.
    “Kraig Gannon. 3F. He’s a really nice kid. But he’s in a heavy metal band. He’s actually a pretty talented

    guitar player and songwriter, but it’s not exactly Miss Mabel’s cup of tea. She’s the Fairhaven’s longest-
    running tenant. My grandpa rented to her in 1979 when she was still teaching middle school.”
    They reached the third-floor fire door and stepped into the hall. Instantly John could hear the muffled

    guitar licks blaring. Mac was right; Kraig was good—but loud.
    Standing in front of apartment 3F, Mac knocked. The music continued. After a moment, Mac knocked

    again, this time more loudly. Still the guitar squealed with hyperactive intensity. From his back pocket,
    Mac produced the big flathead screwdriver, held it up to John with a conspiratorial smile. He banged on
    the door with the handle end. “Hey, Kraig, it’s Mac. Open up.”
    The guitar stopped, and the apartment door swung open. The twenty-something man who filled the

    doorway glistened with piercings. Tattoos covered his torso like graffiti on an old New York subway car.
    It took a moment for John to realize he was only wearing his boxers and socks. Kraig smiled broadly,
    “Hey! What’s up, Mac Daddy? Nice Crüe shirt.”
    “Thought you’d like that,” said Mac. “Kraig, this is my friend, John Doyle.”
    “Hey, what’s up, man?” said Kraig, warmly, as they shook hands.
    “Hi,” said John.
    John laughed to himself. He was not expecting this mutant with the scraggly black hair to be so friendly.
    “Can we come in for a minute?” asked Mac.
    “Sure, man. Can I get you guys a beer?”
    “No, thanks,” Mac said, as he and John stepped inside Kraig’s apartment. The threadbare pink and gold

    plaid sofa was winning the fight against the faded orange stripes of the recliner. A small television
    balanced on a stool below a framed poster of AC/DC’s Angus Young, in full concert strut. In the corner, a
    five-foot-high speaker stack still hissed. Kraig returned his Union Jack–painted electric guitar to its stand
    and disappeared around the corner, “Make yourself at home,” he called out.
    “Sounding good, Kraig. How’s the band?”

    “Yeah, man! Killer news. We just got that festival gig I was telling you about,” Kraig reappeared, beer
    in hand. “Can you believe it? Ten thousand screaming idiots have the chance to consume our tasty tunage.”
    Kraig fell into his couch and dropped his feet on the coffee table—a weathered old door stretched

    across cinder blocks.
    “That’s great news, Kraig. I know how hard you’ve been working. That’s going to be great for you guys,”

    said Mac, showing genuine excitement.
    “We’re so fired up.”
    “Unfortunately, Ms. Grimes would rather skip the preshow,” said Mac.
    “What?” asked Kraig dumbfounded.
    Mac nodded to the speakers. “I know you don’t mean any harm, but we’ve talked about this before.

    You’ve gotta keep it down or use your headphones. You’re gonna give Miss Grimes a heart attack.”
    “Dude, I’m so sorry. I had no idea Able Mabel was back in town. I guess I got carried away after

    hearing the news—broke out into my own private concert. Honestly, man. I thought she was still visiting
    her grandkids in Chicago.”
    “Well, she’s back. And the noise is really bothering her.”
    “Oh, man,” said Kraig running his fingers nervously through his wild black hair. “She must be steaming.

    I’ll go talk to her. I should go talk to her, right?”
    “That’ll be fine, Kraig, but, hey—put a shirt and pants on before you go over,” said Mac with a wink.
    Kraig looked down and realized what he was (actually was not) wearing. “Of course. You got it, boss

    man.” Kraig stood, gave Mac a handshake with a shoulder-to-shoulder half-embrace. “Thanks for the
    heads-up. I’ll keep it on the down-low the rest of the day. We’ve got rehearsal in an hour anyway.”
    “Thanks for understanding. And hey, congrats on the festival gig,” said Mac as they stepped back into

    the hallway.
    As John and Mac made their way back down, John said, “Well, that was tame.”
    “Sorry to disappoint. You were expecting blood and guts?”
    “A little, yeah,” said John with a smile.
    “Having a nice conflict takes some guts, but no blood. You’re going to have to stop seeing conflict as a

    battle if our time together is going to be productive at all.”
    “I know,” said John with a nod. “But could you even call what just happened ‘conflict’?”
    “It was if you consider how those conversations could have gone. What you saw was conflict nipped in

    the bud before it escalated into something ugly. Mabel certainly was in conflict. She’s normally a very
    patient, soft-spoken woman.”
    “She looked like a firecracker to me.”
    “ ‘Cause she was in conflict. Her self-worth was being threatened. And to Mabel Grimes, that looks

    like someone ready to put on the gloves and jump in the ring. My job was to keep a misunderstanding from
    becoming an unsalvageable war between two people who need to coexist. Every tenant is an important
    relationship to me—personally and financially. It is in my best interest and theirs to maintain a positive
    relationship. The goal wasn’t about winning a battle. It was about bringing everyone back to a state of
    feeling good—maintaining their self-worth.”
    “So how’d you do it?” asked John.
    “You tell me.”
    “I don’t know.”
    “Well, what did you notice?” asked Mac.

    John replayed in his mind the interactions he had just witnessed. “You were different with each of
    them,” said John.
    “Okay. How so?”
    “With Mabel, you just listened and promised to handle it right away. And then with Kraig, you kind of

    hung out and chatted about his music before dropping the hammer.”
    “Two different people. Two different approaches,” said Mac. “And in the end, all three of us are

    satisfied. And as for you, if you want blood and guts, rent a movie.”
    Mac slapped John on the shoulder as he opened the stairwell door for him.

    Mac walked John back to John’s car in the bright midday sun. John was glad their meeting hadn’t gone

    too late. He was still conscious of his family’s disappointment that morning. He really hadn’t been present
    for them for the past few weeks—maybe longer—and needing to “work” on a Saturday wasn’t helping.
    Now it looked as if part of the day would be salvageable.
    “Do you understand your homework?” asked Mac, as John dug in his pocket for his keys.
    “I think so. Get feedback from a few people about some of my top strengths,” answered John.
    “Right. Now, John, it’s important that people feel comfortable enough to truly be honest about this. You

    want a true assessment, and it’s up to you to create that space of trust and honesty. Feedback is a gift. All
    you need to offer in return is your thanks. Try not to be defensive or offer any explanations.”
    “The only thing I don’t understand is the negative part. If these are my strengths, why am I asking for

    examples where they felt they were negative?” asked John.
    “Well, remember what we talked about? Often we try to use strengths that aren’t suitable for the

    situation. If I have a screw to tighten, I’m going to cause damage if all I brought was my hammer. We’re
    looking for feedback from both sides of the coin. We want to know when a particular strength was seen as
    a positive and times when that strength became a negative.”
    “So like when my self-confidence was misused?”
    “Precisely. And sometimes a personal strength can cause conflict when it’s overdone,” said Mac.
    “What do you mean ‘overdone?’ ” asked John.
    “It’s like our friend upstairs, Kraig. Our strengths may sound like beautiful music to us, but they can

    come across as too loud or overdone to others, like Mabel. Kraig’s guitar would have sounded just as
    good to him in his headphones, but he chose to turn up the volume and let it fly.”
    John sighed, starting to feel deflated. He moved to the back of his car and leaned against the trunk. “So

    you’re saying my strengths are the cause of all my problems?”
    “Look, John, I’m not saying your strengths are the problem. But it’s important to know which strengths

    we favor and understand that those strengths, when overdone or misapplied, can become weaknesses.”
    Mac joined him by the trunk of John’s car and continued, “Let’s look at self-confidence. What would

    that look like to people if it was overdone—if the volume was too high?”
    “Sure. Cocky, arrogant. It’s not your intent, of course. But is it possible that some of your conflict at

    work happens because other people don’t see your strengths the way you intend them to be seen? Self-
    confidence is at the top of your list of strengths. Do you think you ever turn up the volume too much on
    John smiled grimly. “Some of the people in the office probably think I’ve got my volume jacked up to

    11.” John thought about the times when he had been accused of being a little too proud—too sure of

    himself. His standard rebuttal had always been: “It ain’t braggin’ if I can do it.” He thought about all the
    people at work who might be misinterpreting his behavior and seeing the overdone versions. “So what
    about my other strengths. What would those look like?”
    “Well let’s think about them. What would competitive be if taken too far?” asked Mac.
    John thought for a moment. He found it hard to separate his intention from another person’s perception of

    it. “Maybe aggressive or combative?”
    “Sure,” said Mac. “What about ambitious or quick to act?”
    “I guess those could be seen as ruthless and rash. And principled could be seen as stubborn, maybe, or

    unyielding. What about fair?” asked John.
    “Well, fair is about being impartial and equitable. When overdone, that can start to look cold and

    unfeeling,” said Mac.
    John let the list of negative words roll around in his head. He had often struggled to understand why

    people always seemed to misinterpret his good intentions. Now the issue was crystallizing for him, and
    the jagged points were hurting his brain. When he saw himself as “ambitious,” others might be seeing the
    same thing as “ruthless.” How many Miss Mabels had come down to HR to complain about his volume
    levels at work? How many people on his team saw him as stubborn or rash? How many of them were
    simply tolerating him or avoiding him altogether?
    “Wow, Doc,” sighed John. “When you look at it like that, it’s no wonder I turn so many people off.”
    Mac smiled warmly. “Don’t get down on yourself, John. The good news about overdone strengths is that

    all they require is gaining more volume control over the positive strengths you already have. It’s not some
    weakness you have to rid yourself of. People are almost always trying to do good, and they’re usually
    seeking feelings of self-worth. It’s true for you, which means it’s true for others too.”
    “So when I find another person’s behavior annoying…”
    “Look for the strength behind it. What is this person overdoing? What is he or she really trying to

    accomplish? Most likely, the intent is not to annoy you. If you can find the strength lurking behind the
    perceived weakness, you’ve discovered insight into that person that may help you understand him or her
    better—preventing potential conflict by avoiding misperceptions of that behavior.”
    “Wow,” said John, letting this realization sink in. He hated to admit that he found most other people’s

    behavior annoying—almost to the point of doubting himself. He’d often thought maybe his expectations
    were too high or he just lacked patience. But now he was faced with an alternate explanation. When he
    felt impatience with his boss or with Gail’s tendency to nitpick or when he felt smothered by his wife’s
    attention, perhaps he needed to look behind those behaviors and understand their intent.
    Mac stepped away from the car. “All it takes is insight and practice and the realization that you have a

    choice—and that’s why we’re working together, right?”
    John offered his hand and a smile, “That we are.”
    Mac took his hand, and they shook, “Enjoy the rest of your weekend. And don’t forget to do your

    “Yes, Professor Mac.”
    John felt a tinge of dread. He was being asked to start collecting some honest feedback. He’d never

    cared much what other people thought of him. Now he was being forced to ask the question outright. He
    wasn’t sure he wanted to know. Perhaps not caring was just a way of avoiding finding out.

    Chapter Four

    John hesitated just outside the doorway to Gail’s office. What the hell was he thinking? He was
    beginning to second-guess his decision to start this feedback process with Gail. The truth was, he hadn’t
    been thinking at all, and now the inertia of his decision was propelling him into her office, feeling
    It was at that moment that Gail rushed out of her office and nearly ran into him. It took both of them by

    “Oh!” she yelped. It may have been the first time John had witnessed an emotion out of her. She

    regained her composure, “John. What are—”
    “Hey. I, uhh, I was just coming to see you,”
    “I’m afraid I’m neck deep in it right now. I’m working to get everything in order for that meeting with

    operations this afternoon.”
    “That’s fine. We can talk later. I just needed to get some information from you,” said John, feeling

    Gail was intrigued by John’s uncharacteristic awkwardness. She studied him over her frameless

    glasses, “I was going to grab a quick bite down at the commissary. Would you want to join me?”
    “The commissary?” asked John, surprised. The building’s eatery had been dubbed a last resort by most

    who had the misfortune of eating there. “Sure, why not? Let’s live dangerously.”

    John paid the commissary cashier and found Gail at a corner table near the windows. He marveled at

    the simple green salad before her. In the years he’d worked with her, he’d never seen her eat anything else.
    After consuming two cherry tomatoes from her plate, she eyed him. “What did you want to discuss?”
    “Me, actually.”
    Gail’s head cocked slightly.
    “I got myself involved in something that I’m pretty sure is going to help me out around here,” said John.
    Gail raised an eyebrow. “Should I be worried?”
    “What? No,” said John. “I’m seeing a guy about helping me be a better manager and deal with people

    better—manage conflict better.”
    “Oh,” she said, surprised. “Well, that’s magnificent, John.”
    There she was, showing emotion again. “Yeah, it’s pretty eye-opening stuff.”
    “For example?” Gail prodded.
    “Well,” said John, searching for a good sound bite from Saturday, “for example, he talks about how

    people don’t really have weaknesses so much as they have strengths that they may use at the wrong time or
    use them too intensely. He calls them ‘overdone strengths.’ And they can be a big source of conflict
    between people.”
    “That’s intriguing. I’ve never thought of it quite like that. Did he give you anything? Any support

    “Not yet. I completed a couple of assessments, but we haven’t really gone through them in detail yet. All

    I know is it’s a concept of relationship awareness theory.”
    Gail’s head tilted ever so slightly. She was clearly intrigued.

    “So this guy I’m working with gave me some homework to do.”
    “Really,” said Gail with a hint of a smile. “I’m beginning to like him already.”
    John had forgotten that Gail was an adjunct professor at a local university. She taught a course on

    market research or statistics, he thought. He figured the whole idea of homework must have a certain
    sadistic appeal to her.
    “I just need to collect a little feedback from you,” said John.
    “I’m not sure if I can do it right this minute, given everything I still need to prepare for today. If I can’t

    give you what you need right now, can I get back to you after I’ve had a chance to give it some thought?”
    John bit his lip and smiled, “Of course.” All John wanted was some simple, off-the-cuff impressions,

    but Gail seemed incapable of speaking off the top of her head. Her acute analysis paralysis had always
    been an irritation to John. As he felt himself getting annoyed, he remembered Mac’s advice: this was one
    of those opportunities to look beneath her behavior and find the underlying strength. When he really
    thought about it, he had always truly respected Gail’s experience and expertise. Her analytical approach
    and thirst for detail had saved his butt on more than one occasion.
    John glanced at his notes and pushed on. “So one of the things we worked on was determining my top

    six personal strengths. What I identified for myself were self-confident, competitive, ambitious, fair,
    quick to act, and principled. What do you think?”
    He looked up at Gail and waited for a reaction. She paused for what seemed to be an eternity. “I would

    probably agree with that assessment. But can I be honest?”
    “Absolutely. I need you be honest,” said John, flashing a wry smile. “At least as honest as you were on

    my performance appraisal.”
    “Would you like this feedback or not?” she asked, not amused.
    “Are you sure quick to act is a strength? In my book, this need of yours to move so quickly on

    everything has gotten you in some trouble over the years.”
    “Well, that’s what I’m after,” said John. “I need to know how some of these traits might be working

    against me at times. Do you have an example?”
    “Okay. Let me think for a minute.” Gail squeezed a wedge of lemon into her iced tea, stirred it slowly,

    and set the spoon squarely in the center of a paper napkin. John watched the ritual with newly found
    “EagleMark,” said Gail, finally.
    John winced. He knew what was coming next. She had rubbed his nose in the EagleMark fiasco many

    times over the past year. Why not now?
    “You barged into my office to push me on discounting for EagleMark Enterprises. You had just come

    from your lunch meeting with Mr. Willis, and you had yourself convinced that the account was—let me
    see if I can recall your exact words—‘This guy is a whale in waiting. I can turn EagleMark into our
    biggest-volume customer in one year.’ You stood in front of my desk and badgered me until I finally gave
    John’s face burned. He stared at his note pad fighting the urge to justify his side, an old, worn-out beast

    of an argument.
    “And where is your whale now?” continued Gail. “If I recall the last year-to-date report correctly,

    EagleMark is in the bottom 10 percent of all active accounts in the country, and they’re receiving our
    deepest discount.” Gail took a sip of iced tea as if to quell a potential flare-up. “I’m still taking heat for

    that, and I sure hope it doesn’t come up today in my meeting upstairs.”
    John shifted in his chair. “I believe you called it ‘irrational exuberance.’ At least that’s what I remember

    from my performance appraisal.”
    “My exact words,” said Gail, with a bit of satisfaction. Being accurately quoted had always been a big

    deal for her. Misquoting her or taking her words out of context were well-known ways to find yourself on
    Gail’s bad side.
    John’s mind was bursting with explanations and excuses about the EagleMark situation. He hadn’t

    thought about how hard it was going to be to just listen to the feedback without comment. He eked out a
    simple, “Okay.”
    “Whether that account had been successful or not, I didn’t appreciate your approach with me at all.”

    Gail took a bite of salad—a clear signal that the topic would no longer be discussed. She hated bringing it
    up almost as much as John hated being reminded. The EagleMark situation had been a frequent weapon
    that the executives upstairs had used against both of them.
    John was happy to change the subject and possibly end on a positive note. “Are there times when my

    strengths have really benefited the organization?” asked John hopefully.
    “Sure, John. I think you bring a lot to my team—your competitive drive, desire to succeed, and high

    level of confidence can raise the bar for everyone—especially when you and Randy start trying to outdo
    each other in sales contests. It gets everyone engaged and causes all of us to think more about our
    business. I also know that when you really believe in something, you don’t let anything stand in your way.
    Look at an account like Hemisphere Worldwide. We wouldn’t be where we are today with them if you
    hadn’t seen the opportunity that was beneath the surface.”
    “See. Sometimes I know what I’m talking about,” said John with a sheepish grin.
    “But in the case of Hemisphere, you did your research first and came to me with a game plan. You

    weren’t so impulsive.”
    “Thanks, Gail. I’m glad you appreciate the work I put into that one.”
    “I do appreciate it, John. And I appreciate you and the work you’re doing with this consultant. I truly

    think you’ve got potential to do great things in this company, but you’ve got some work to do on the people
    front. Your approach doesn’t sit well with everyone.” Gail glanced at her watch and put her utensils in a
    neat pile on her plate. “I need to head back upstairs.”
    “Thanks, Gail. I’m trying.”
    “I see that. I think it’s wonderful what you’re doing. Keep me informed about your progress.”
    What he saw in Gail’s face wasn’t a smile, but there was a subtle pride in her eyes that he hadn’t seen in

    a long time.
    As he watched her leave, his thoughts swirled as he recounted the conversation. He picked up his pen to

    write some notes.
    “Hey, John-John. Can I join you?”
    John looked up and saw Leslie from marketing. Without waiting for an answer, she slid into what had

    been Gail’s chair. Leslie was Starr Industries’ town crier. There wasn’t a rumor in the building she hadn’t
    heard or started. John had no doubt Leslie had been watching his lunch with Gail from afar and was
    bursting with curiosity. He scanned the room for an escape route.
    “What’s going on?” asked Leslie. “I heard about the regional position. I’m so sorry.”
    “Well, that’s the way it goes sometimes,” said John. He had no interest in opening up to her about how

    he was really feeling. He was mortified enough, knowing she knew about it. Then again, if anyone

    “I’d be pissed. Who else are they going to give it to? Randy? Guy’s the world’s biggest exaggerator.”
    John smiled to himself at the irony of calling someone the world’s biggest exaggerator. He took his first

    bite of his dried-out club sandwich—anything not to have to engage her on a subject that was still tender.
    Leslie seemed unfazed by John’s detachment from the conversation. He hoped he wasn’t the only one who
    found Leslie exhausting.
    “Did Gail beat you up today?” asked Leslie. “I bet she dredged up the EagleMark thing again.”
    John looked up from his sandwich. “I swear, Leslie, you must have this building bugged.”
    “She did, didn’t she?” asked Leslie. John’s look gave her the answer. “Look, John, we’re on the same

    team on that one. I thought EagleMark would be a winner too. And believe me, I got my forty lashes over
    it as well.”
    “Yeah,” John conceded sourly. “Guess you should be leery next time I start waving a flag around.”
    “No way, John. We need your kind of energy around here. EagleMark may have been a dud, but there

    are five more just like it that you called perfectly. I love working with you on stuff.”
    John looked her in the eye for the first time. He had no idea she felt that way. He knew Leslie had taken

    some heat, and he felt largely responsible for that. The guilt reminded him of his homework assignment.
    He hadn’t planned on using Leslie as a feedback provider, but he couldn’t resist the opportunity to knock
    two out in one lunch.
    “So, Les?” John asked with a hint of collusion. “We’ve known each other, what—almost three years

    now. Right?”
    “No, I’m not running away with you, John Doyle,” said Leslie dramatically. “You’re a married man.”

    She flipped her hair over her ear playfully.
    John smiled. “Yeah, yeah. I don’t know how you get anything done fighting off all our advances all day

    “It’s a real burden, but I get by,” she said, sighing loudly. “So what’s up?”
    “I was curious about how you see me.”
    “How I see you?”
    “The way I do things. Do you think I can be a little over the top when it comes to my approach with

    people? Am I too rash sometimes? May be a little too competitive?”
    “Wow, Gail really got in your head today, didn’t she?”
    “No. It’s not Gail. I’m just looking for some honest feedback.”
    “Feedback, huh?”
    “Do I sometimes do things that tick you off?”
    “I wouldn’t say you tick me off. But you definitely have a competitive side—maybe a little too

    competitive for my taste. When you and Randy go head-to-head on some stupid contest—whoa!—get out
    of the way.”
    “That upsets you?” asked John.
    “I don’t know. It’s just—we’re a team, you know? And with you guys, it turns into this smack-talking,

    throw-down brawl. It kinda makes me uncomfortable—for me and, I’m sure, other people in the
    department. It’s like I start to wonder if I’m going to be the next one to get stepped on while the two of you
    punch and push your way to the finish line. You know what I mean?”
    “Wow. I had no idea,” said John. “But you realize Randy and I have been going at it like that forever.

    We may talk a little trash, but there’s no harm intended. We’re buddies.”

    “Oh, I get that. I’m just saying. It seems like your ‘friendly competition’ sometimes comes at the expense
    of the team. You guys become, like, possessed. I find myself giving in to your ideas just to get you two to
    back off a little. It’s not because I necessarily agree with you.”
    John absorbed this. “I guess I could see how it might be tough for the rest of you.”
    “I don’t know,” said Leslie. “Maybe it’s just those ridiculous sales contests. They bring out the

    Johnasaurus Rex.”
    John laughed. “Johnasaurus Rex?”
    “Oh, haven’t you heard that before?”

    Tyrannosaurus, meaning ‘tyrant lizard,’ was one of the largest land carnivores of all time. It was a

    fierce predator that walked on two powerful legs and…
    “What’cha doing? Your kid’s homework?”
    John quickly closed out of the Web site window. In the doorway to his office, he found Randy—a wide

    grin filling his face. “Don’t you ever knock?” asked John with a frown.
    “Not when the door is open.” Randy flopped his oversized frame into one of John’s side chairs and

    motioned to John’s computer. “What’s with the dinosaurs?”
    “Did you know about this Johnasaurus nickname?”
    Randy laughed. “Of course. Everyone does!”
    John shook his head. He didn’t quite know whether to take it as a compliment or an insult.
    “It’s better than mine,” admitted Randy.
    “Why, what’s yours?”
    “If you don’t know, I ain’t tellin’.”
    “I guess I’ve been left out of the nickname loop.”
    “Is this what your voice mail was about?” asked Randy. “Your nickname?”
    “Well if you’re looking for the secret behind my latest beat-down of team extinction, I’m pretty sure

    John’s mind wandered as Randy droned on. Was there a word for overdone trash talking? If so, Randy

    was pictured next to the definition. It was a skill he must have honed growing up on the asphalt basketball
    courts of his childhood and later as a college basketball star at some Big Ten school. You couldn’t know
    Randy without knowing all about his glory days. His intense competitiveness made John second-guess
    asking him for feedback. But he also knew that he and Randy shared a lot of the same strengths. And after
    talking to Gail and Leslie, he figured he could use a little ego boost by talking to someone who played the
    game the same way he did.
    Randy was still talking when John got up and shut the door. That got his attention.
    “Whoa. That serious, huh?”
    “No, biggie,” said John, returning to his chair. “I just need to ask you something. And I want you to think

    before you respond—if that’s even possible.”
    “Sure. What’s up?”
    “I’m wondering if I ever do anything that creates conflict between us?”
    Randy sat there and stared. Suddenly he burst out with laughter and stood up. “Man, that’s rich,” he said,

    moving toward the door.
    “I’m serious.”

    “You been watching too much Oprah and Dr. Phil.”
    “So nothing causes conflict?” asked John.
    “I thought we were cool? All in fun, right?”
    “I know. I’m just making sure.”
    “Look, man. We’re both fighters—hard chargers. Varsity team. The rest of these fools got nothing on us.

    I actually like you pushing me. It makes me better. I’ve got no problem with that. Besides I’m usually
    kicking your butt every month.”
    “Yeah, that’s what I figured,” said John.
    “The only thing I don’t like is when you check out on me and don’t shovel it right back. Takes the fun out

    of it.”
    “What are you talking about?”
    “I don’t know, man. Sometimes you kinda go vacant. The out-to-lunch signs go up in your eyes.”
    “When does that happen?” asked John.
    “Usually you’re unstoppable. Johnasaurus Rex, right? But things go a little off-track, and you kinda run

    away with your little dino tail between your legs.”
    “I don’t do that.”
    “The hell you don’t. Remember when I started here? I was shadowing some of your calls with you.

    There was that one client. I forget his name. He sorta sucker-punched you with a contract issue—wanted
    to pull his business. You completely choked.”
    “I didn’t choke,” said John, defensively.
    “Total deer in the headlights.”
    “I was thinking.”
    “You were stammering like a grade schooler giving a book report. You coulda easily pulled through that

    situation. That part of the contract is always negotiable here. You choked, bro.”
    After Randy left his office, John’s mind was racing. He was trying to get feedback about his strengths,

    but this was something different—and he didn’t like it. There was no appeal to being a fighter who runs
    away during a fight. And yet that’s how he was coming off to people? And to hear it from Randy made it
    all the more embarrassing. The fact was, John was never running away. He was thinking, strategizing. He
    always stepped back and assessed a situation before attacking. Isn’t that what all good generals do? Randy
    was all about shoot first, apologize later. How could that be better? John found himself anxious for his
    next rendezvous with Mac—whenever and wherever that turned out to be.

    Chapter Five

    John quietly eased the door closed behind him and entered the darkened theater. He chuckled at the futility
    of his caution when he found the vast sea of red velvet seats empty. Aided by the dim aisle lighting, John
    made his way toward the darkened stage. The curtain was up, but the set was difficult to make out. John
    began to wonder why Mac insisted on dark, obscure places for his meetings.
    John called out. “Hello?”
    Suddenly the theater burst to life. Red lights flooded the stage, illuminating a painted backdrop that

    resembled a European street scene—flower stand, bistro, Old World architecture. John stood and stared
    into the intense, glow from the stage.
    “Ladies and gentlemen, Mister John Doyle!” Mac’s voice boomed from the house speakers.
    John looked around, trying to locate the source of the voice.
    “Up here,” called Mac, no longer using the microphone.
    John found him, waving from the side of the stage.
    “Come on up.”
    John made his way to the stage, where he saw that the Italian bistro was really just a plywood facade

    suspended from a web of ropes and wires that trailed into the void beyond the red stage lights. He hadn’t
    been on a stage since elementary school, and he could count on one hand the number of times he’d been an
    audience member—twice for his kids’ school performances and a few plays Nancy had dragged him to.
    Now he was center-stage, basked in red light before three hundred empty seats.
    “You look good up there, John. Ever done any acting?”
    “Nah. I was kind of a jock in high school.”
    Mac carried two café chairs to the front edge of the stage and positioned them facing the set.
    “You’re not going to make me perform, are you?” asked John apprehensively.
    “Why? Is that out of your comfort zone?” asked Mac with a sly grin.
    Mac laughed. “No, I’m not going to make you perform—although my wife is always looking for new

    talent. She directs a couple of shows here every year. And when she’s not directing, she’s acting or
    helping out with all of the others.”
    “That’s impressive,” said John.
    “Well, it’s glorified community theater. But she loves it. She studied acting in college and probably

    could have had a decent career, but I charmed her away from Broadway. Now I’m forced to pay for that
    transgression by volunteering as the set builder in residence.”
    “Ah. You and your trusty tools.”
    “So what now? Will you be performing a play for me on conflict?”
    “Not exactly, but I do want to play with some concepts a little today.” Mac sat down in one of the café

    chairs. “But first, have a seat. I’m curious how your feedback homework went. What did you discover?”
    John pulled out his note pad and took a seat in the other chair.
    “Well, it was kind of all over the place.”
    “That would make sense,” said Mac.

    “How so?”
    “You talked to multiple people, right?”
    “It’ll start to make sense very soon,” said Mac, reassuringly. “Tell me what you learned.”
    “Well, people seem to think I overdo my strengths—some more than others. And different people

    mentioned different strengths. I know my boss thinks I’m far too loud in my quickness to act and self-
    confidence. She’d like the volume turned way down on those.” John squinted at his notes. He wasn’t used
    to the intense red light. “And then with my buddy Randy—we’re pretty similar in a lot of ways—he didn’t
    have any complaints with the way I act except when things get tough.”
    “That’s interesting. Explain what you mean there.”
    “Randy is a pretty focused go-getter type like I am. But I guess when conflict starts, he’s instantly ready

    to pick up the bat and start swinging. I don’t do that. I kind of step back and think about what’s going on
    before I feel ready to dive into the fight. That’s where Randy found frustration working with me. I mean, is
    that so wrong? Shouldn’t we all think before we act?”
    Mac looked at John and grinned. “This is going to be a good day. I can feel it.” And then he jumped out

    of his chair, clearly bursting with anticipation.
    “You didn’t answer my question.”
    “I promise you,” said Mac, “you won’t leave this stage before you can answer those questions yourself.

    I’m going to walk you a little further through the theory of relationship awareness—try to help you better
    understand the nature of conflict. Good?”
    “Okay, Doc,” sighed John.
    Mac began pacing. “Since we’re on a stage, let me ask you a question about acting.”
    “That wouldn’t be my favorite Jeopardy! category, but I’ll give it a try.”
    “Do you know what method acting is?”
    “I’ve heard the term, but I’m not sure I could explain it,” said John.
    “Basically method acting relates to techniques actors use to create in themselves the thoughts and

    emotions of the characters they’re playing. They don’t just act the emotion; they recreate the emotion in
    themselves by identifying what their characters must be feeling.”
    “Like putting yourself in someone else’s shoes?” asked John.
    “In a way, yes. You’ll often hear a method actor ask the director, ‘What’s my motivation?’ They’re trying

    to determine where the character is coming from. What they’re after.”
    “Got it.”
    “Well,” continued Mac, “just as a method actor needs to figure out the purpose driving his character’s

    actions to create a convincing performance, we need to take the time to ask the same question.”
    “What’s my motivation?” repeated John.
    “Exactly. If we want to have productive relationships, we need to figure out what our motivation is and

    —perhaps more important—what the other person’s motivation is.”
    “How does knowing that make our relationships more productive?” asked John.
    “Remember what we talked about last time? Behavior can be deceiving. It’s more important to know

    why someone is doing something in order to understand his or her intent and avoid letting
    misinterpretations cause you conflict.”
    “Kind of like you were talking about with my overdone strengths,” confirmed John. “Gail may be seeing

    rash behavior in me, but she might be less inclined to go into conflict over it if she knew it was really just

    my desire to act quickly. All I’m trying to do is jump on an opportunity and get things accomplished.”
    “Right! And when she understands that,” said Mac, “all of a sudden, she can see the behavior she’s been

    perceiving as rash in a different light. She can begin to see it as your true motivation of wanting to achieve
    results—which I hardly think she’d find issue with.”
    “And yet it seems that she always does,” said John. “I can do something that I think is absolutely right,

    and it seems as if she sees it as absolutely wrong. I’m really surprised sometimes at how we see the same
    issue so differently—like we’re not even living in the same world.”
    “That’s where it becomes important to understand what her motivation is.”
    “Wouldn’t she be motivated by results too?” asked John.
    “I’m sure results are of value to her, but the way you’ve described her, there may be other things that are

    even more important to her. What motivates you may not be what motivates her—and others too. The
    problem is that most people don’t know this. They assume everyone views the world the way they do. And
    if they do know, it’s sometimes hard to put that knowledge into practice. Our filter is pretty hard to get
    “What do you mean by filter?”
    Mac walked to the side of the stage and grabbed something. “You’ve heard the term rose-colored

    glasses, right?” he asked.
    “Sure, like for someone who sees things only positively,” answered John.
    “People who view the world through rose-colored glasses have a filter of optimism that affects the way

    they interpret what happens around them. That same concept is really true for all of us. Only instead of it
    being optimism, it’s our motivational values that filter our perceptions. We interpret what we see others
    do through our own set of standards.”
    Mac returned to his chair. In his hand, John saw what appeared to be some sort of oversized remote

    “What do you see there?” asked Mac, pointing to the painted facade.
    “It’s a backdrop,” answered John.
    “Yes, but describe it. What setting does it create? What is the mood?”
    “It looks like a city street someplace in Europe. Italy, I’d guess,” offered John. He sensed a trick

    question and peered at the set carefully.
    “Is it a nice place?” asked Mac.
    “Looks pretty nice. It reminds me of a trip Nancy and I took before the kids were born. Venice, then

    Florence. It was beautiful.”
    Mac just smiled at John. He pointed the remote and jabbed a button with his thumb. Instantly the lights

    popped from red to green.
    “Pretty tricky,” said John.
    “I’m also the lighting director here,” explained Mac. “So now what do you see?”
    John looked back at the street scene. In the thick, green light, the same walls of the buildings were now

    marred with graffiti. The shop windows were splintered with cracks.
    “Looks like a war zone,” said John.
    “Maybe this is what the same situation looks like to someone like Gail. With her green-colored filter,

    things look pretty different. Can you see how that could cause conflict? Like you described: same world
    but a very different view of it.”
    “Wow, so I’m just out there, living in la-la land while the rest of the world sees everything a different

    way?” asked John.
    “I’m just using this setting as an illustration of filters. You mentioned Randy having pretty similar views

    to you. Would you say his motivation is also concerned with getting things done and achieving results?”
    Mac hit the button again, and the lights reverted back to red. The Italian bistro returned to its pristine

    state. “So his filter is pretty close to your own in most situations.”
    “That makes sense,” said John. “But why do you say ‘most situations’? If our motivational values are

    the same, wouldn’t we always see things the same way?”
    “When all is well, that’s probably true. But when we are faced with conflict, suddenly our motivation

    can change completely. And when that happens, your filter changes too.”
    John stood up. He was feeling energized as pieces were falling into place. “That explains why Randy

    doesn’t understand my approach to conflict. We usually share a filter, but conflict comes along and shakes
    things up.”
    “Exactly! You’re both running along in Red Land, and then something happens to you that sends you off

    Mac hit the switch to fill the stage in green again.
    “You’re in conflict now,” declared Mac. “A new filter has washed over you. Meanwhile, Randy is still

    seeing Red and can’t understand what happened to his Red-running buddy. You stop making sense to him.”
    “And this happens to everyone?” asked John, his mind racing.
    Mac considered the question a moment. “Tell me about your wife.”
    “What do you think Nancy’s motivation is?”
    “I don’t know,” said John warily.
    “If anyone would, you would. Think about it.”
    John was taken aback by the question. He had been in such a work-life mind-set that he had yet to let his

    home life be a factor. But it made perfect sense when he thought about it. His work with Dr. Mac was
    about conflict and his relationships. There was no distinction between work and home when he looked at
    it at that level.
    Mac was still waiting for an answer. John first thought about Nancy’s behaviors. Perhaps they would

    offer clues into her motivation.
    “I’d say she’s pretty loving and caring. Always very supportive.”
    “Okay, but you need to get to the why. Just like your ambition serves your desire to achieve and get

    things done, what desire does her supportiveness serve?”
    “She truly wants to help people.”
    “Okay, good.”
    Mac took John by the arm and walked him to the upper right side of the stage. “Stand there,” Mac

    directed, as he walked back to the chairs. He snatched them up and placed one at center stage, close to the
    edge. Then he positioned the other one directly across from John on the upper left side of the stage. After
    making a few adjustments with the chairs’ positioning, Mac walked to the center—between John and the
    two chairs.
    “Ready for this?” asked Mac, almost giddy with anticipation.
    “Trust, Doc,” offered John, dryly. “I’m pulling that tool from the depths of my toolbox.”
    “Good man.”

    Mac flicked a button on his remote, and the light shifted quickly. John found himself again flooded in
    red light, but this time, the light came at him from behind, creating a swath of red along the stage. John’s
    black shadow stretched to where Mac stood. John could also see that the chair at the edge of the stage
    was lit with a green spotlight. The other chair was in blue. All three colors combined at the center
    creating an almost white light where Mac stood at the hub. The overall effect was a three-color triangle
    on the battered wood floor of the stage.
    “Welcome to the seven motivational value systems,” said Mac, proudly.
    “Does that mean we left Italy?”
    “We’ve taken a journey to the clusters of motives that individuals use in their quest for self-worth. When

    things are going well, these are the blends of values that work together to drive our behavior.”
    “Okay, Doc. You lost me.”
    “Let’s say this entire triangle of light on the floor represents the one unifying thing every human being

    wants—to feel worthwhile.”
    “Self-worth,” recalled John.
    “Right. It’s the ultimate motivation we all share. We want to feel good about ourselves. Gail wants that.

    Nancy wants that. Randy wants that. But how each of us obtains that for ourselves can be different—hence
    the multiple colors—Red, Green, and Blue. The things that generate feelings of self-worth in some people
    may not generate the same feelings of self-worth in others. But the goal is ultimately still the same.”
    “So my route to self-worth is Red?” asked John.
    “Exactly. The Red approach is Assertive-Directing, with a concern for task accomplishment and the

    organization of people and resources to achieve results.”
    “That sounds about right.”
    “Absolutely. Plus, you took an assessment that told me you were,” said Mac with a wink. He walked to

    the blue area. “Now, if you’re right about Nancy, she sits over here in the Blue chair. People in this
    Altruistic-Nurturing area of the triangle achieve self-worth when they can focus on the protection, growth,
    and welfare of others. They want to help people.”
    “Does that mean Gail sits over in the Green chair?” asked John.
    Mac moved that way. “Probably. The Green part of the triangle is the Analytic-Autonomizing area. They

    have a concern for precision and establishing and maintaining order. They achieve self-worth when they
    have assurance that things have been properly thought out.”
    “That would be Gail, all right,” said John. “So where are the other four colors?”
    “What do you mean?” asked Mac.
    “You said there were seven motivational thingies.”
    “Motivational value systems. That’s true. There are seven, but they’re all just an interplay of these three

    core motivations. The other four are blendings of them. When motives combine, they make new areas. Just
    like here in the center where Red, Green, and Blue combine to make the hub of the triangle. This group is
    called Flexible-Cohering.” Mac walked to the center, where the light turned white. “This area is focused
    on the group—members of the group, welfare of the group, belonging in the group. Since it’s a fairly
    equitable blend of Blue, Red, and Green, the people in this area can often relate easily to people of other
    regions of the triangle. I’m actually a Hub, myself. I find self-worth by being flexible and open-minded.”
    “Is that why you can’t stand being in your office? You just want to mix it up a little?” asked John.
    Mac laughed. “Maybe so.” He held up his lighting remote. “But I also don’t have this in my office.”
    “True. You definitely couldn’t 3pull off your light show there.” John walked halfway to the chair under

    the blue light and stopped. “So would this be a blended motivational value system?”
    “Exactly. You’re in the area of Red-Blue, aka the Assertive-Nurturing folks. People in that area share a

    little from the Red side and a little from the Blue side. Self-worth is achieved with a concern for helping
    others, while using task accomplishment and leadership.”
    Mac took a spot between the red and green lights. “This is the Judicious-Competing group. They show a

    concern for rational leadership, strategy, and fairness in competition. A little Red with a little Green.”
    John crossed over to the Blue-Green blend, “So these guys want to help people analytically?”
    “In a way, yes. That’s the Cautious-Supporting area. They want to thoughtfully help people help

    “Wow. That’s a lot of different kinds of people to have to figure out,” said John.
    “Well, it’s helpful to look at it as three primary drives working together to yield these seven basic

    personality types. But even within these seven, you’ll find variation, just as you do here on the floor, when
    the colored lights mix in varying degrees. Even two people in the Red part of the triangle may have
    varying degrees of Red. Randy, for example, may be with you in the Red part of the triangle, but he may
    be closer to the tip or maybe near one of the blend areas, like Red-Green. You relate to him well because
    he’s close by—not because he’s identical to you.”
    “Are you saying that even if I’m Red, I also have some Green and Blue?” asked John.
    “You’re a mixture but predominantly Red. Think of it like this. If we were making a bunch of different

    kinds of ice cream, the recipes for each flavor share most of the same ingredients. But a few things stand
    out in each one to make it the flavor we identify when we see and taste it. For the most part, every person
    has a little of everything. We just sometimes prefer one set of ingredients over others, which gives us our
    flavor. You gravitate more toward the Red values than the Green and Blue ones.”
    “So I have a Red flavor,” said John.
    “And I’m kind of a neapolitan here in the Hub,” said Mac.
    John walked around the triangle slowly. With each step, he thought about the meaning of the shade of

    color his foot landed on.
    “There’s a decent amount of complexity in the human condition, isn’t there?” Mac inquired.
    “You’re telling me. It would sure be a lot easier if everyone came from Red land.”
    “True, but how dysfunctional would that be? Who’s going to follow your leadership? Who’s going to

    handle the details? You need the helpers and the thinkers and everyone else on this triangle. Quite frankly,
    all this diversity is good.”
    “But good isn’t always easy,” John pointed out.
    “It gets easier. That’s why we’re working together.”
    John nodded. He was still staring at the colored lights spread across the floor.
    “So if we’re all just trying to do the right thing, how do we end up dealing with so much conflict?”

    asked John.
    “Well, as we are all standing in our respective spots, trying to do the right thing to maintain our own

    sense of self-worth, conflict can happen when our right thing appears to be the wrong thing to another
    person across the triangle.”
    “There’s so much conflict because there are so many things that can set it off,” said John.
    “Unfortunately, that’s true. But let’s break it down—make it a little more manageable.”
    “Gladly.” John sighed with relief.
    “You said Gail found your approach in certain situations not to her liking. True?”

    “Very true,” admitted John.
    Mac walked down and sat in the green-lit chair. “Can you now start to see why that may be?”
    “She’s Green, and I’m Red?” John offered tentatively.
    “Well, that’s a little oversimplified. Tell me what you think the dynamic is, considering the different

    motivational value systems at play.”
    “Well, she thinks I rush into things without thinking them through. She calls me impulsive. I think I’m just

    too hard-charging and competitive for her orderly, by-the-book sensibility. She wants to slow down and
    wait for data, while I want to speed up so we don’t miss an opportunity. She’s so damn worried about
    policy that by the time she gets around to approving anything, we’ve missed the opportunity completely.”
    “It sounds as if she has some great strengths,” Mac suggested.
    “Great strengths? How do you figure?” John felt a pounding frustration well up inside him. “It’s

    impossible to get anything done around her. All she does is throw up roadblocks and slow down my
    progress. Sometimes I think she’s intentionally trying to hold me and my team back with all of her
    Just thinking about Gail got John worked up. He had become an expert at reciting these complaints. He’d

    happily offer an earful to anyone who would listen, and he was certain that Nancy was tired of hearing
    him vent about her—though she would never complain about it.
    “I think you’re starting to understand the nature of conflict, John.” Mac offered gently.
    “I am?”
    “Jump out of your filter, and think about what you just said.”
    John looked at Mac, now completely bathed in green light. He thought about how Mac defined the

    Analytic-Autonomizing values: logic, thoughtfulness, fairness. When he considered Gail’s perspective,
    her right thing was to make sure everyone was moving in the correct direction after taking into account all
    the facts. His own “irrational exuberance” probably scared her. It probably pushed her to operate way out
    of her comfort zone. Mac sat quietly while John put the pieces together.
    “We’re causing each other conflict,” John said thoughtfully. “Gail and I are both trying to do the right

    thing, based on our own reasons, but because these reasons—or, like you said, motivations—are filtering
    our perceptions, we feel conflict when we see behaviors that challenge our way of doing things. We’re
    both trying to do our jobs the best way we know how, but our styles are so different that she thinks I’m
    working against her—and vice versa.”
    Mac smiled. “That’s what we call a breakthrough moment, John.”
    John felt a new sense of awareness and clarity wash over him. “Wow. And most of my top strengths are

    in direct opposition to her preferred way of doing things.”
    “And I would venture to guess that some of her top strengths are in direct opposition to your preferred

    way of doing things. What would you consider Gail’s strengths to be?” asked Mac.
    John chuckled. “I’m not sure that I’m the right person to answer that question.”
    “Oh, I think you are. You’ve already told me that Gail is orderly and cautious.”
    “Those are strengths?” John said, with more than a hint of sarcasm.
    “They are. Absolutely. So is being analytical. This world needs people who are organized, analytical,

    and cautious—just like it needs people who are confident and ambitious. I may not like using my
    plumbing tools, but I sure am glad there are people who do. I rely on those people. I have them on my
    “Okay, I could see that.”

    “Maybe you’re struggling to find Gail’s strengths because you’re stuck seeing her as a frustration. Try
    this: think about what bugs you, and then find the positive side. In other words, trace back her strengths
    from the overdone strengths.”
    John chuckled. “You know what? I already did this with her. When I was asking for feedback, I started

    to get annoyed by her incessant analysis paralysis, and I forced myself to look for the strength.”
    “That’s fantastic, John. So this should be easy.”
    John took a deep breath and gave it a go. “Basically Gail is very logical and methodical. She thinks

    things through, which helps us avoid making bad decisions. She also establishes guidelines and makes
    sure everything is clear and thorough. Oh, and whenever there’s a sales contest or new bonus plan, she
    works really hard to make sure that it’s a level playing field for everyone.”
    “And what is the strength at play there?” asked Mac with a hint of a smile.
    “I guess fairness? Which I totally respect. I don’t want anyone coming back after I beat the socks off

    ‘em and saying that I had some sort of advantage,” said John.
    “Fairness. Interesting. I seem to remember fair being one of your strengths.”
    “Yeah, I guess that’s true. So what does that mean?”
    “That’s a great illustration of the distinction between behaviors and motivation. You may share a

    strength like fairness but use that tool for different reasons. Same behavior, different motivation,”
    explained Mac. “Has Gail’s behavior of fair ever caused you conflict?”
    “Not that I can think of.”
    “Why would it?” said Mac. “But it’s clear to see how someone who’s quick to act might upset someone

    who’s cautious and methodical. Or how someone who is reserved might react to someone who’s brimming
    with self-confidence.”
    “Absolutely,” said John.
    “And that’s just a contrast of plain old strengths—not even their overdone counterparts.”
    “So then what can I do about it?” asked John.
    “About what?”
    “What do I do to keep from feeling conflict about her way of doing things?”
    “You’ve already done it.”
    “I have? What have I done?”
    “You’ve started to understand where she’s coming from,” stated Mac, standing over the green chair.

    “You can begin to see her behavior as merely a difference of style—not a direct challenge or threat aimed
    at annoying you or derailing you.”
    “That’s it?” asked John.
    “It’s a good start. Often conflict is a choice, just like behavior is a choice. If you choose to continue to

    feel conflict over the way she does things, that’s on you. Because now you know she’s just trying to do
    what she feels is right—using a behavior that brings her a feeling of self-worth.”
    John smiled. He had to admit that even after one meeting with Mac, he had noticed a difference in his

    interaction with Gail. And after this afternoon, he was seeing her in a completely new light—a Green one,
    to be exact. He knew Mac was right. Reaching an awareness of Gail’s motivation gave John an undeniable
    feeling of understanding and respect for her. It made him almost eager for the next opportunity to talk with
    her and see how this newly found appreciation would bear on their relationship.
    “Of course, conflict can come from other places too,” said Mac. “It’s more than just a reaction to styles,

    behaviors, and overdone strengths. And in some cases, what people perceive as conflict is really

    something else. When people have different ideas about how to handle an issue, I call these disagreements
    opposition rather than conflict. Opposition is often part of a healthy debate that leads us to better ideas.”
    “Yeah,” agreed John, “I’ve found that brainstorming with people who have different points of view can

    be helpful in finding the best way to move forward on something.”
    “And that’s productive,” said Mac. “In my mind, it can’t be called conflict until it gets personal.”
    “Totally. With some people—in some situations—it starts to feel real personal. The difference is

    “And that’s an important distinction. I like to characterize conflict as the feeling that occurs when

    another person or set of circumstances becomes an obstacle that inhibits one’s ability to live out their
    motivational values.”
    “Whoa, hold up there, Doc.” John reached for his note pad. “Can you explain that?”
    “Sorry. That was maybe too Green a definition.” Mac stood and moved to the blue area. “People feel

    conflict when they can’t be in their desired color space.”
    Mac grabbed the chair and brought it back to the edge of the stage next to the other one.
    Mac continued. “When you were talking about Gail working against you at work, you looked pretty

    worked up.”
    “I felt pretty worked up,” John confirmed.
    Mac sat back down and hit a button on the lighting remote. The lights burst back to a red glow. John sat

    down next to Mac, ready for the next light show.
    “So in those situations,” said Mac, “you had an overwhelming emotional response—a feeling—brought

    on by Gail’s becoming an obstacle to your desire for achievement and getting things done.”
    “She’s blocking you from your desire to live in the Red—your ‘happy place.’ That’s the feeling of

    conflict. Your sense of self-worth is threatened, and when that happens, your motivation changes in a
    predictable pattern. You feel pulled away from your happy place, which causes you to experience
    sequential changes in your motivation, which drive changes in your behavior.”
    “Huh? What do you mean by ‘predictable pattern’?” asked John.
    “Every person has a predictable and sequential pattern for how they experience changes in their

    motivation in the face of ongoing conflict. Essentially conflict is experienced as a sequence of three
    progressively serious stages and is often—but not always—evident to others due to a change in behavior
    as well.”
    “I’m not sure I’m following.”
    “Well, let’s revisit Randy’s feedback. He noticed a real change in you in the face of conflict.”
    “That’s what he said, yeah.”
    “Tell me what that change feels like to you,” Mac said. “When Gail starts getting in your way, what do

    you do? When there’s an issue at home, how does it feel?”
    “Well, let’s see. I guess my most common response is that I pull away and want to think about it. I go

    into my own analysis mode, trying to figure out what happened—who did what—and how I can work
    around it. I just want things to make sense.”
    The lights cut out with a bang. Darkness enveloped them, until a sharp circle of green light slowly

    appeared on the floor at the left side of the stage.
    “That’s your stage 1,” said Mac quietly. John could just make out his face in the darkness. “Now what if

    things persist? What do you do then?”

    “I guess I get kind of angry if things don’t get resolved. At that point, I come out swinging. And I’m pretty
    unbeatable because I’ve had a lot of time to prepare my case. I’ve been known to fire my share of verbal
    missiles, and that almost always gets me in trouble. But at that point, I don’t care.”
    Mac pressed more buttons on his remote and—a spotlight made a sharp, red circle of light on the floor

    at center-stage. “So that’s your stage 2,” said Mac. “Then what?”
    “I don’t think there is a ‘then what?’ ”
    “So you’ve won every stage 2 battle? You’ve resolved every conflict?”
    “No,” admitted John, after some reflection.
    “Stage 3 conflict can be tough. Many people experience it only a handful of times in their life. And it’s

    never pretty or pleasant,” said Mac.
    “Well, when it’s gotten that bad, I guess I’m feeling pretty defeated. I’ve left it all on the field, and I’ve

    lost the will to fight.”
    Blue lights dropped on the right side of the stage. John looked at the three pools of light breaking the

    darkness of the theater.
    “This is your conflict sequence, John.”
    The sight gave John a chill for a reason he couldn’t identify. Maybe it was the darkness—or perhaps the

    subject matter. John shook it off and stood. He approached the small spotlight of green—his first stage of
    “I suppose we’re all different in conflict too?” asked John.
    “There are thirteen possible conflict sequences.”
    “Different combinations of Red, Green, and Blue?” asked John.
    “You got it,” said Mac. “When most people think of conflict, they think of people angrily pointing their

    fingers and yelling at each other, don’t they?”
    “But that’s just a Red response, right?” asked John. “Mine is more subtle. My wife says I sulk.”
    “But you’re really just being cautious and assessing the situation. That’s the Green response.”
    “And Blue?”
    “A first-stage Blue response to conflict is about keeping the peace—giving in to try to smooth things

    over with the other person,” Mac stated. “These are all common responses, but they’re just behaviors—
    driven by a change in motivation. And the cause of that change is that you see your self-worth being
    “They’re pulling me away from my happy place—where I feel good about myself,” concluded John.
    “Exactly. And you run the risk of doing the same to other people—pulling them from their motivational

    value system. You deploy your strengths in support of your Red motivational values. Another person with
    different motivational values may see that behavior related to a particular issue as threatening to their
    self-worth, and it creates conflict in them.”
    “And then they experience a shift in motivation.”
    “Precisely. People go into conflict only about things that are important to them, so if you think about it,

    that’s a great opportunity.”
    “How so?”
    “It’s a learning opportunity. If we can recognize the source of the conflict—in other words, the trigger

    that launched the conflict—then we can learn what other people value and work to restore the sense of
    self-worth for the people involved.”
    “Actually help them out of their feelings of conflict?”

    “Sure,” said Mac. “When conflict is under control, all kinds of great things are possible.”
    Mac joined John at the pool of green light.
    “Stage 1 is the most civilized. Here you’re still able to focus on the whole picture—the issue, the other

    person. In stage 1, you’re still mindful of the factors outside yourself.”
    Mac moved away, stepping directly under the red spotlight, his features shadowed in the harsh light.
    “As a conflict becomes deeper and more serious,” Mac continued, “a person in conflict becomes more

    narrowly focused on protecting self-worth and less focused on maintaining the relationship or solving the
    problem. The deeper the fall into our stages of conflict, the more damage is possible.”
    “Shouldn’t we try to stay out of conflict altogether?”
    “Ideally, yes,” said Mac. “But that’s not going to happen. There always seems to be someone or

    something out there waiting to challenge our self-worth. What we can do is prevent the conflicts that are
    preventable and manage the conflicts that are inevitable. The ultimate goal is to minimize the visits to
    your deeper stages of conflict. Conflict can actually enhance your relationships. But that’s more likely in
    stage 1. When it hits stage 2 or especially stage 3, you’ve lost concern for the relationship. Those verbal
    missiles you described can leave lasting scars.”
    “Scars they rarely let me forget,” said John, sadly. “So as we’re trying to manage a conflict situation, we

    need to figure out the other person’s first stage?”
    “Actually it’s about learning to recognize the changes in behavior. Knowing what stage you’re

    witnessing is a little harder. Two people in conflict might have different conflict sequences, and they don’t
    necessarily cycle through their sequences at the same time. In fact, person A might be deep in conflict
    because of the way he interpreted something that person B did. Meanwhile, person B isn’t in conflict at all
    and doesn’t even realize anything is wrong.”
    John laughed, “You might as well call person A, ‘Nancy’ and person B, ‘John.’ ”
    “Do you find it hard to know if she’s in conflict?”
    “Oh, it’s not hard. It’s painfully obvious. It just seems to come out of nowhere. Everything seems fine,

    and then I find out she’s misinterpreted something I said days ago, and I don’t have a clue until it’s too late.
    She won’t even let me explain. Does that mean she’s first-stage Red?”
    “Maybe not. You may be seeing second- or third-stage Red.”
    “Well, by the time you hear about it, her focus has narrowed. She doesn’t even want to hear your side.

    She’s focused on herself at that point. What’s more likely is she’s first-stage Blue. You don’t see it,
    because it’s so similar to where she sits on the triangle.”
    “Which is also Blue,” said John.
    “The shift is there, but it’s harder to see.”
    “So all those times she kept the peace and tried to smooth everything over, she was really in first-stage

    conflict?” asked John. But he already knew the answer. He started to realize that all these years, she
    wasn’t avoiding conflict; her giving in was her conflict—first-stage conflict. When Mt. Saint Nancy
    erupted, she was already well into her conflict sequence. That couldn’t be good.
    A door opened backstage, and voices followed. Mac brought the plain white stage lights on with his

    controller and stood up.
    “It’s getting late. I think we’ve covered enough ground for one day.”
    John stretched, checking his watch, “Yeah, if I’m not on time tonight, I may be getting a healthy serving

    of second-stage Red for dinner.”


    “Let’s pick this up later in the week. We’ll be in touch.”
    “Homework?” asked John.
    “Nothing specific. Just play with what you’ve learned. See what you notice. I wouldn’t be surprised if

    the world looks a lot different to you now.”
    “Yeah,” said John, “in shades of Red, Green, and Blue.”
    “And not necessarily in that order,” Mac reminded him, with a smile.


    Note: For a color illustration of the triangle and all seven motivational value systems, check out the
    “Character Assessment Results” section at the back of this book.

    Chapter Six

    A surge of anxiety hit John as he scanned his calendar for the day. It was wall-to-wall appointments, and
    the message light was already blinking on his desk phone as he walked into his office. He had only eight
    minutes before the sales meeting was to start, and with a day like the one ahead of him, every second was
    valuable. He pressed the message button on his phone and was about to enter his PIN when there was a
    knock on his open door. John looked up and saw Blake, one of his junior salesmen.
    “I’m coming,” said John, assuming he was collecting him for the meeting. “I was just going to check—”
    “I think I need your help, John,” interrupted Blake.
    John reluctantly returned the phone to the cradle.
    “Sure, Blake. What’s up?” asked John with a hint of a sigh.
    Blake took a seat on the edge of a chair. John noticed the dread in his eyes.
    “It’s Delta Systems.”
    “Oh, no. What?” asked John.
    “Bonnie Sanstone wants to have a teleconference with us today at one. I think she’s after another price

    concession and maybe some other breaks.”
    “You gotta be kidding.”
    “She’s threatening to move all of her business. Everything.”
    John instantly felt alarm wash over him, pulling him into a deeper, darker, Greener place within his

    brain. He and Bonnie had locked horns many times over the years. She was Delta’s purchasing agent and a
    ruthless negotiator. The mere mention of her name sent John into a conflict reflex. He immediately started
    calculating the financial damage that would result if Bonnie followed through on her threat. Delta was not
    only Blake’s biggest customer but also one of the biggest customers in the region. If Delta’s orders
    dropped substantially, it would cause John to drop in every sales ranking that mattered. He would have
    almost no chance at winning any sales awards this year, and it certainly wouldn’t help his chances for a
    “I know how you two have gone at it in the past,” said Blake, “but I don’t think I can do this alone. She’s

    my biggest customer by far.”
    “Oh, I hear you.”
    “If we don’t give her what she wants…” Blake trailed off, as if finishing his thought would somehow

    make it a reality.
    “She’s already got us down to next to nothing,” said John.
    “I know, but I don’t know what else to do. If I lose this account, I mean, I’m screwed for the entire year. I

    won’t make my numbers, and my commission check won’t buy me lunch.”
    John shifted uncomfortably in his chair.
    Blake continued his plea, “And Maria is still at home with the baby. Those commission checks are all

    that’s keeping us going.”
    John was already deep in thought about how to keep Delta’s business. He knew that it was going to be a

    battle. Bonnie was well aware that she was one of Starr’s biggest accounts, and she ruthlessly played that
    card at every opportunity.
    John glanced at the clock. The eight minutes had raced by, and now he and Blake were going to be late

    for Gail’s staff meeting.
    “We gotta go,” said John, as he stood up.
    “Can you help me out on this?” asked Blake.
    “Of course. No problem. We’ll get this worked out,” said John, confidently. But deep inside, John’s

    thoughts were spinning.

    Gail’s opening monologue was well under way as John and Blake found seats at the far end of the

    narrow conference room. John purposely avoided making eye contact with Gail. He noticed Randy across
    the room, a smug grin on his face as he not-so-discreetly tapped his oversized, overpriced watch. It was
    his first salvo of the day. John remained unfazed though; his mind was busy with the impending
    teleconference with Bonnie. His brain tore through all of the possible scenarios at lightning speed. John
    smiled to himself at the recognition that he was fully engulfed in his first-stage Green conflict.
    Since the agenda was fairly light, Gail adjourned the meeting in forty minutes, and John was quickly on

    his feet and making his way toward the door. With only one step to freedom, John felt Randy’s big hand
    clap his shoulder.
    “Hold up there, Johnny D,” said Randy. “You, sir, were tardy.”
    “What are you, the hall monitor?”
    “If that means I can bust your chops, then yes.”
    “I gotta run,” said John as he moved into the hall.
    Randy followed, “What’s wrong with you, man? You all right?”
    John turned to him. He thought about the feedback Randy had given him, and he realized this was a

    perfect example of Randy’s feeling a disconnect because of John’s shift to Green conflict. He wanted to
    keep walking but figured this would be an opportunity to make a different choice.
    “Sorry, man,” said John. “I’m just a little distracted. Delta Systems is looking to grind us down again.”
    “Is that Bonnie? She’s tough.”
    “You have no idea. She’s prepared to jump ship if I don’t give in to her demands.”
    Randy scowled, “You gotta stand up to that woman. She’s been playing that game with our company for

    years. Time to shut that down, you know? She needs us just as much as we need her.”
    “Easy for you to say. If she takes her business across town, I’m hosed. Blake’s hosed. The whole

    company would feel that one.”
    “I’m just tellin’ you what I’d do. Don’t give in, buddy,” said Randy, as he held out a fist. “Be strong.”
    John bumped Randy’s knuckles with his own, but as he watched Randy walk away, he knew this call

    wasn’t going to be as simple as flexing a little muscle. Too much was at stake.

    The morning had raced by, and John felt impending doom churning in his gut as the clock on his desk hit

    12:55. Dr. Mac hadn’t returned his call yet. There would be no advice, no pep talk. He was on his own for
    this one.
    John had spent some time over lunch trying to think back on his interactions with Bonnie over the years.

    What could her motivation be? From everything he remembered, it was looking like Green or Red. There
    were signs that could point to either one. She always came to a conversation fortified with an arsenal of
    data, which she quoted with whiz kid dexterity. But unlike Gail’s exacting and reserved delivery (or
    Green-speak as John was starting to call it), Bonnie spoke with a passionate, no-nonsense, results-driven
    approach that reminded him of his own. After an exhausting internal debate, he remembered the blends.

    He didn’t have to choose one; she was probably both—a Red-Green blend. She wanted to win, but only if
    she had an indisputable, rational case for it. John hoped he was right about her, since over the past hour,
    he had been planning a Red-Green strategy for the conference call.
    12:59. John dialed the designated number and punched in the pass code. An automatic greeting

    welcomed him to Delta’s teleconference center. Blake was already on the line.
    “Hello?” said John.
    “It’s just us, boss.” said Blake. “I hope you have a plan.”
    “Actually, I think I do.”
    A few seconds later, a chime announced Bonnie’s arrival on the call.
    “Good afternoon, everyone,” said Bonnie.
    “Hello, Bonnie,” offered John.
    “How are you, Bonn?” asked Blake.
    “Fine, thanks.”
    “How’d your husband’s trip to Thailand go?” asked Blake. John cringed. Blake’s love for chitchat had

    always struck him as superfluous and inane. Since working with Mac, though, John realized Blake’s best
    weapon in sales had been his ability to build close relationships with his clients. This, however, was not
    the time or the person for it. John imagined that Bonnie had prepared for this call even more than they had.
    She had her chess pieces lined up, and she was itching to start moving them.
    “It was fine,” said Bonnie flatly.
    “So.” John jumped in to block any more Blue chatter from Blake, “I hear we have some things to talk

    “You know, I’ve done business with you guys a long time,” said Bonnie. “And I’d like to stick with you,

    but I’ve got orders to cut costs. And quite frankly, one of your competitors has offered prices that are
    significantly better than yours. So as much as it would pain me to do it, I’m afraid I need to make a
    John’s stomach dropped. “Did you sign a contract with them?”
    “Well, not yet. But we’re talking some big numbers. We’re going to need a much deeper discount.”
    There it was. John knew this had been coming all day, but it still packed a punch.
    “It’s just business. You understand,” explained Bonnie casually.
    “I understand,” said John. It wasn’t the sarcastic response he wanted to give, but he was doing his best

    to stay composed. He knew being baited into conflict would take the conversation down a destructive
    path—one he would not have as much control over. He took a deep breath and pulled on his Red-Green
    “We’ve obviously been here before, Bonnie, and I know you have a job to do,” said John. “You’re

    responsible for managing your company’s resources and making sure your production people have what
    they need to get the job done, right?”
    “Look, I just need some better numbers, John. That’s it.”
    “I know, and I respect that. What I hope to do during our conversation today is to understand and

    address what’s really important to you. I’ve got some facts I’d like to share, and ultimately I think I can
    offer a winning strategy that makes sense for both of us. I really think we can work together on this.”
    “Okay,” Bonnie said, with a hint of caution.
    “I’m confident we can find an equitable way forward that works well for everyone concerned.”
    John read that line word for word from his notes. It was the most Red-Green statement he could think of

    for the situation. He held his breath and waited for her reaction.
    “That would be perfect. Let’s hear some of those facts,” said Bonnie.
    John wanted to jump up and down. He wondered if his smile could be heard on the other end of the call.
    For the duration of the forty-five-minute conversation, John did his best to stay in a Red-Green mind-

    set. He listened and acknowledged Bonnie’s position. He confidently presented Starr Industries’ record of
    superior service and product performance data, and he offered a comprehensive market analysis, showing
    Starr’s price points in comparison with the market overall. Throughout the conversation, Bonnie remained
    engaged and even softened her line-in-the-sand approach. In the end, they agreed to continue the
    relationship with a slight reduction in the price of four items. He also got her to agree to a two-year
    contract extension instead of the usual one year. In the end, the call was a big win for both John and Starr
    Within seconds of the teleconference ending, John’s phone rang. He smiled as he recognized Blake’s

    “Are you okay with that outcome?” asked John.
    “Okay? I’m thrilled!” exclaimed Blake. “I’ve never seen anyone handle Bonnie like that. You had her

    eating out of your hand. How’d you pull that off?”
    “I just tried a different approach this time. Instead of letting her put me on the defensive, I tried to

    understand how she thinks and where she’s coming from. The thing with Bonnie is that you just have to
    make your case. And make it bulletproof.”
    “You’re a magician.”
    “I don’t know about that, but I do think we’re in a pretty good place with Bonnie and her business.”
    “I’m grateful, boss. You’ll have to teach me how you did that.”
    “You just gotta have a nice conflict,” said John, smiling to himself.
    “Have a what?” asked Blake.

    John was still high off his win with Bonnie as he rounded the corner to his street. Nancy had sat through

    many stories over the years about the drubbings John had taken from the “evil purchasing agent from
    Delta.” He was excited to finally share some good news. His time with Mac was really starting to pay off.
    Then John made the mistake of going inside.
    The instant he entered the house, he could tell all was not well in the Doyle household. The shrill sobs

    from Emma shook the walls—not panicked shrieks of pain but the weary, unrelenting wail of a toddler in
    need of a pillow and pacifier. Elsewhere in the house, J.J. was shouting something about school.
    John thought seriously about ducking back into the garage, but Nancy came around the corner in

    disaster-cleanup mode, wielding a vacuum cleaner. She met him with a sour look.
    “You don’t answer your texts anymore?” she snapped.
    “What’s going on?” asked John, not really wanting to know the answer.
    “You have no idea what today’s been like, John.”
    She kept walking, leaving him speechless in the doorway. It was clear to John that his response in this

    moment would determine the course of the entire evening. But the more he thought about the right thing to
    say, the more his thoughts dissolved into incoherence.
    “Seriously?” Nancy was back, staring at him in astonishment. “You just going to stand in the doorway

    all night?”
    “It’s been a long day, Nance,” said John as he moved past her. All he wanted was the opportunity to

    drop his briefcase in his home office and maybe steal a minute or two to regroup.
    “Don’t even think about it!” hissed Nancy.
    “What do you think? Whenever there’s a crisis around this house, you run and hide in your office.”
    “I’m going to put my stuff down. Is that all right with you?” said John with a punch of sarcasm.
    “Whatever. See you in an hour.”
    “I’m not hiding!” John responded sharply. “I just know how emotional you get over every little thing.”
    John was already on his way down the hall when he heard the vacuum hit the floor. The sound made him

    wince. Instantly she was on his heels.
    “Little things!? You mean like our children?”
    “Look, Nancy—”
    “Your son is refusing ever to go back to school!”
    “Can you just calm down so we can talk about this?”
    “How about this for calm.” said Nancy, “I’m going to go to the gym for the first time this week, and you

    can feed the kids their dinner, you can make sure the homework gets done, and you can get them ready for
    bed. Then we’ll talk about calm.”
    As Nancy wheeled around and marched away, John’s thrill of victory at work was replaced by the

    agony of defeat in his own home. How could he have dealt with one conflict so expertly and fallen so flat
    on his face with the next? Tonight’s conflict had happened with an enormous absence of nice. Clearly he
    needed more help. His next appointment with Dr. Mac was only hours away. Still, it was too far off to
    avoid sleeping on the sofa that night.

    Chapter Seven

    The afternoon sun glistened in a brilliant blue sky. The ocean stretched to eternity beyond the weathered
    rails of the long pier. But inside John’s throbbing head, gray clouds churned. Not even this postcard setting
    could cut his sour mood. The previous night’s fight with Nancy had gone unresolved, and John was
    wallowing in frustration. Just when he thought he was getting a hold of this conflict stuff, he had the wind
    knocked out of him at home.
    Halfway down the pier, John began to question whether he was supposed to meet Mac at the end of the

    pier or the start. All he could see up ahead of him were a handful of fishermen. A gentle breeze carried
    with it the rancid smell of dead fish. John immediately regretted being in a suit and tie and began
    removing his coat.
    John turned back and saw Mac, decked out in ratty shorts and a floppy hat, skewering a pink and white

    squid on his fishing line. John had walked right past him.
    “Oh, hey, Doc,” said John, flatly.
    “I see you dressed for the occasion,” returned Mac as he looked over John’s out-of-place silk tie and

    dress slacks.
    “I had a client meeting. I didn’t realize we were going to be deep-sea fishing today.”
    “I love it out here. Great place for conversations.”
    “And here I thought you liked meeting only in dark places,” said John, recognizing the contrast between

    here and his last two meeting spots.
    “Not on a gorgeous day like today. Beautiful, isn’t it?”
    John shrugged, laid his suit coat over the back of the bench next to Mac, and loosened his tie.
    Mac studied John, and asked “Everything okay?”
    “Rough night,” said John, reluctantly. “Started out a great day, but didn’t end so well.”
    “You want to talk about it?”
    John looked over the rail at the waves crashing below. “Any bites?”
    “Not yet,” said Mac, letting John’s avoidance slide. “But some of the guys were saying the striped bass

    were biting. Are you a fisherman?”
    “Not really,” said John, removing his tie.
    “I’ve got an extra rod here for you, if you’d like to give it a try.”
    Mac readied his stance and prepared to cast his line. John followed the graceful arc of the bait until it

    splashed in the water, fifteen yards out.
    “That’s the spot!” said Mac triumphantly.
    Mac made it look easy. John rolled up the sleeves on his starched shirt and picked up the spare rod and

    reel. He figured he could use the distraction. In his younger days, John would go running or meet the guys
    for a game of basketball to blow off a little steam. But it had been years since he’d done that. Maybe he
    should try to work some exercise back into his life. It certainly couldn’t hurt.
    “Go ahead, John. Give it a try,” said Mac.
    The heavy rig felt good in his hands. It had been a lifetime since John had been fishing. He’d never

    particularly cared for it—too much waiting around. What he did love was the memories it brought back of

    camping with his dad and enjoying the outdoors up in Shasta every summer. Maybe he and J.J. should plan
    a trip up north with his dad—three generations of Doyles, floating around in his dad’s aluminum boat,
    hunting rainbow trout. John hoped he wouldn’t forget to plan something.
    The rod was already rigged with a large hook and heavy weights for the ocean. John reached into the

    small cooler full of squid and gingerly picked one up by a tentacle.
    “Just push one of those onto your hook,” instructed Mac.
    “Got it.”
    By this point, John had given up trying to salvage his clothes and wiped his wet hands on his slacks.

    With bait and hook ready, John visualized the “perfect spot” for the cast—just a little farther out from
    where Mac’s line emerged from the water. Then with everything he had, John whipped the pole overhead
    and released the line. The soft clicking noise stopped abruptly as the reel seized and the tackle jerked
    back toward him and smacked somewhere underneath the pier. Instantly John felt his face grow hot. A few
    gentle tugs on the rod failed to free the line. He cranked the reel to try a little more pressure on the line
    and flicked the rod a few times straight up, then to the right, then to the left. Still the line remained
    fastened somewhere beneath the pier.
    John’s frustration set in quickly. He had done everything perfectly. Something must have been wrong

    with the reel. A few more quick flicks of the pole rendered no results. He stole a glance at Mac, who had
    to have noticed John’s struggle, but Mac’s eyes were fixed on the horizon. That’s okay, he thought. He
    didn’t really want help anyway. He was confident he could figure this out on his own. John set the rod
    aside and leaned over the rail, looking for some clue as to where the hook had gotten hung up. When that
    proved futile, he searched for a possible route down. John quickly ruled that option out as he suddenly felt
    the height get to him. There was simply nothing he could think of to free his line.
    John snatched the rod back and started yanking the pole upward. With each increasingly strong snap, the

    pole contorted into impossible forms. The damn thing just wasn’t going to budge. John knew the battle was
    lost. Deflated, he dropped the pole against the pier railing and stepped away. So much for a relaxing
    afternoon of fishing. He was feeling gloomier than ever.
    “Here.” Mac handed him a pocketknife.
    Game over. John resigned himself to the failure, leaned as far over the railing as he dared, and

    sacrificed the hook with a slice of the blade.
    “So what happened there, John?”
    “I cast my line, but something got hung up—”
    “No, John,” interrupted Mac. “I don’t care about the fish story. What happened with you?” He tapped

    John on the chest. “In here.”
    “I just experienced conflict with a pink squid.”
    “Okay, tell me about it.”
    John expelled a frustrated laugh.
    “Every experience is a learning experience, no?” said Mac.
    John was in no mood to play along. Mac set his rod down and crossed his arms.
    “Tell me, John,” said Mac. “How long are you going to let conflict control you? How much longer are

    you willing to let situations like this ruin your day? Look at it out here. It doesn’t get any nicer. And you’re
    moping around like a rain cloud is following you.”
    “You’re right,” John acknowledged. Mac’s words helped expose a weariness within him. He really was

    tired of the dark cloud. “I’m sorry.”

    “No reason to be sorry. I get it. I just don’t want you to stay in that place and waste this time we have
    “Neither do I.”
    “So tell me about your little fishing adventure. I witnessed something there that I hope you saw too.”
    “I saw me make a fool of myself,” said John.
    “When you were casting your line, what was going on in your head?”
    John considered the question. In an instant he recognized his Red motivational value system calling the

    shots—the surge of competitiveness as he watched Mac cast his line flawlessly, the ambition of choosing
    a spot farther out, how quickly the whole incident had happened. He had barely secured the bait before he
    was hurling it out into the water.
    “I saw my goal, I set the bar ridiculously high, and my mind was ten steps ahead of my body,” said John.
    “That’s interesting. What were you thinking about?”
    “Not the fishing pole, that’s for sure. I was thinking about my son, my dad. I hadn’t even gotten my hook

    in the water, and I was already planning a fishing trip for all of us next summer. I was thinking about how
    much the equipment must cost…”
    “You were everywhere but here,” Mac observed.
    “I guess I do that a lot. My head is in the future while I’m working in the present. I’m always thinking

    about the next great accomplishment—the next promotion—and as a result, I rarely enjoy what’s
    happening right now. The present is never good enough.”
    “And how is that working for you?”
    “You just saw it. I push too hard and think too little. Or at least think too little about what I’m doing at

    the moment. I just put too much force into it, and it came hurtling right back at me.”
    “Not the first time, I’m guessing.”
    “Story of my life,” sighed John.
    Mac picked up John’s fishing pole and began to tie on a new hook.
    John leaned against the rail. “Amazing how we can learn so much about ourselves by screwing up.”
    “Screwing up but also talking about what went wrong and why. That’s the key. And you haven’t even

    talked about the good stuff yet.”
    “What do you mean?” asked John.
    “We figured out how your Red style got you into that predicament, but then I got to witness the entire

    John Doyle conflict sequence in vivid color.”
    John had to think about that one. He remembered the three pools of light on the stage—green, then red,

    then blue—representing his unique experience in conflict. It all started to fall into place for him.
    John responded with part question, part statement: “So conflict doesn’t just have to be between people.”
    “All it takes is for your self-worth to be threatened,” said Mac. “Did you feel that happening?”
    “My self-worth? I guess I did. But not because I botched the cast. Because I was thinking about J.J.,”

    admitted John. “It was like I was failing in front of him. And maybe the competitive side of me was
    embarrassed to screw up in front of you.”
    “And you accepted that invitation into conflict.”
    “What invitation?”
    “You had a choice, right?” asked Mac.
    “I suppose.”
    “Conflict feelings came calling, and you chose to let them in. You allowed those conflict feelings to

    “Which put me into my Green first stage of conflict,” said John. “I got really quiet and cautious trying to

    figure out what to do. I was basically trying to analyze my way out of it.”
    “For a second there, I thought you were going to climb down and wrestle it out by hand.” Mac laughed

    and shook his head.
    “I was tempted.” John was now laughing too. It occurred to him that his black cloud had dissipated. He

    felt the warm sun on his back like the arm of a friend.
    “All for a fifty-cent hook,” said Mac with a wink. “So as soon as you moved out of your cautious,

    analysis mode, what happened?”
    “I traded brain for brawn. I figured it was time to muscle the thing loose. I was frustrated and started to

    get more aggressive.”
    “Stage 2 Red. Did that feel more productive or less productive?” asked Mac.
    “It felt…I don’t know—strangely satisfying at the time, but kind of out of control. I was letting my

    temper get to me.”
    “A few more wild tugs, and you may have found out just how much that equipment costs,” scolded Mac

    “Yeah,” said John. “Like I said, ‘out of control.’ ”
    “Remember, in stage 2 conflict, your focus narrows to yourself and the problem. The well-being of my

    fishing pole was way out of your field of vision.”
    “I guess operating like that can be costly.”
    “Very much so. Costly to your relationships too.”
    Mac let that hang there. John took a seat on the bench as his thoughts immediately jumped to his ex-

    salesman Andy Ward, who had given John a scalding review in his exit interview. A few months before
    he left, Andy had forgotten to pass through a subcontractor price increase to a customer. It had risen into a
    big issue for all of the parties. John organized an emergency conference call with Andy and his customer
    and proceeded to hammer Andy on the facts. John was compelled to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt
    that Andy was at fault. In the end, the customer agreed to accept the pass-through cost, but that was
    probably the day Andy started updating his résumé.
    “It’s kind of sickening, actually,” said John “When I think about it, I’ve always been a staunch advocate

    for my team—would do whatever it takes to get them what they need to succeed. But when my feet are put
    to the fire, it’s all about number one.”
    “Sounds unproductive,” offered Mac.
    The words from Andy’s exit interview put a searing brand on his consciousness: “John Doyle was the

    main reason I started looking for another job.” John wondered how many conflicts he had “won” in stage
    2 at the expense of the relationship. And if he was really so interested in the future, why was he was
    taking short-term victories that led to long-term losses? Was he grabbing short-term victories at home too?
    He could not bear the thought of a long-term loss at home.
    “I gotta stop going there,” said John sincerely.
    “Now there’s a worthy goal for you,” Mac affirmed. “Don’t let yourself slide into stage 2 conflict.”
    Mac finished attaching the weights to the line and rested the rod against the railing. He took a seat next

    to John.
    “Why do you think you let yourself go to stage 2 today?” asked Mac.
    “There was no way that stupid hook was going to beat me. Not today.”

    “And yet…”
    “It beat me,” said John.
    “Nooo!” kidded Mac. “You let a squid and a fifty-cent hook take you all the way to stage 3 conflict?

    That dark, dreaded place?”
    “If you want the fifty cents, I have it in my car.”
    “Don’t worry about it,” said Mac. “It was worth every penny. In less than ninety seconds, you got to live

    out your entire conflict sequence.”
    John thought about that final surrender he had just experienced. Stage 3 wasn’t a place he had gone often

    —maybe only three or four times. They had been very unpleasant situations that he hoped to avoid ever
    seeing again. In fact, that place of defeat was why he argued so hard after his logic had failed him. In
    many ways, it wasn’t about being right; it was about making sure he didn’t get pushed to that last resort,
    where he would totally surrender.
    “Stage 3 is an ugly place to be,” said John.
    “But it will always be lurking there—waiting for you to visit should you choose to. That’s what I meant

    by a predictable pattern. The emotional roller-coaster you went through with this rod and reel is what
    you’re likely to go through with conflict unless you resolve it or let it go.”
    “If I choose to,” said John with extra emphasis.
    “Exactly!” said Mac. “You, my friend, are well on your way to having a nice conflict.”
    “Boy, I hope so.”
    Mac held out a second small ice chest, and John took a soda with a nod of thanks.
    “There are really five keys to having a nice conflict,” said Mac as he popped the top off an iced tea.

    “Everything we’ve talked about thus far has given you the basic tools to excel in these areas; you need to
    anticipate conflict, know ways to prevent conflict, be able to identify conflict, know how to manage
    conflict, and find ways to resolve conflict. As you build skill in each of these areas, you’ll find yourself
    enjoying productive, rewarding relationships with nearly everyone in your life.”
    John grabbed his note pad to jot down the list.
    “And don’t worry,” said Mac. “We’ll take a closer look at each one. But first, I’m curious how your

    meeting went with your client. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to get back to you in time.”
    “That’s okay. Actually it was downright perfect.”
    “See, you’re an expert already.”
    “Well, I thought so. Until I got home.”
    “Oh,” said Mac. “Well, tell me about the meeting. I always like the good news first.”
    “Like I said in my message, one of my biggest clients was threatening to take her business elsewhere.

    Her name’s Bonnie; she’s a real nightmare and usually makes me crazy. But all through the morning,
    leading up to the conference call, I recounted all my past interactions with her and realized she was
    probably a blend of Red and Green. I thought about her role and realized that my experiences with her
    gave me a lot to go on in terms of what was important to her.”
    “So you anticipated how she might act and react. Good.”
    “I know she values a lot of facts and figures, and Red-Greens are all about strategy and fairness. So I

    came into that conference call with all the right data and a foolproof strategy that would appeal to her. I
    knew she couldn’t resist a plan that would be equitable to both of us.”
    “And did it work?”
    “Like a charm,” said John proudly.

    “So you respected her motivational value system and delivered your message in her language. And that
    prevented conflict from happening?” asked Mac.
    “I think she was taken a little off-guard at first; we’ve done this dance before. She seemed a little

    cautious there for a minute. But after we started rolling, all was well. A few times, I had to bite my tongue
    and resist the temptation to go into conflict. She has a way of pushing my buttons.”
    “And were you successful in not accepting that invitation to conflict?” asked Mac expectantly.
    John smiled, “I hung up on that conflict like it was a telemarketer at suppertime.”
    “Excellent. So you were able to identify the early signs of conflict and manage yourself and her through

    “I guess so. Yes. It was amazing. I’d had negotiations with her four other times, and this time—it just—I

    don’t know…”
    “It was nice!” exclaimed Mac with a broad smile.
    “Yes, it was nice,” agreed John. “But then I went home.”
    “Not so nice,” said John, wincing.
    “What did you do?”
    “I didn’t do anything!”
    “Unfortunately, that’s the Achilles’ heel of the first-stage Green: not doing anything,” admitted Mac. “I

    struggle with it, too. My wife says it’s a disease. She calls it ‘deer in the headlights-i-tis.’ ”
    “I literally walked in the door, and Nancy was on me. I heard the kids crying and immediately knew that

    the day hadn’t gone well for her. I could hear it in the tone of her voice. I knew she was in conflict, but I
    just choked.”
    John stood up and started pacing.
    “One minute I feel like I’m really getting all this, and then the next, I’m falling flat on my face,” said

    John, with a tinge of desperation.
    “Okay, but these are two completely different situations.”
    “But I want to have good outcomes consistently.”
    “Of course you do. But you can’t compare these two instances and get down on yourself. Don’t you see

    how they differ?” asked Mac.
    “One was home, and one was work?”
    “Well, yes, but that’s not the point I’m trying to make.”
    “Then I’m not getting your point.”
    “Let’s play it this way.” Mac joined John at the railing. “Let’s say it’s 3:00 P.M., and you get a voice

    mail from your wife that gives you the whole scoop about how much of a disaster her day has been. With
    three hours and a drive home to prepare, do you think you’d have walked through that door a bit more
    prepared to deal with it productively?”
    John smiled and shook his head. “With the Bonnie situation, I had some time to prepare. I had advance

    notice. I was able to play it through in my head before it actually occurred.”
    “Now let’s reverse it. What if you arrived at work yesterday and found Bonnie sitting in your office

    unannounced and ready to jump in the ring with you?”
    John laughed.
    “I doubt you’d have been so pleased with the outcome,” said Mac.
    “Oh, it would have been a disaster,” agreed John. “So how do I get better at those surprise attacks?”

    “Well, let’s start with the first of those five keys of conflict. To become better at preventing and
    managing conflict, the first thing you have to do is be on the lookout for it—even expect it,” said Mac,
    picking up his rod and slowly reeling it in.
    “Expect conflict? That sounds a little depressing.”
    “It’s about knowing the people you are in a relationship with well enough to know what’s important to

    them—know what gives them self-worth and how they prefer to operate. Then you’re better prepared to
    respond to them quickly and effectively. In our last meeting, we made an educated guess that Nancy hails
    from the nurturing Blue corner of the triangle. Did you keep that in mind when you walked through the
    “No. I pretty much just mentally ran away,” admitted John.
    “I want you to begin asking yourself how people with different motivational values would view a

    situation and to consider their conflict triggers. If you can do that, you’re likely to use a different approach
    and avoid pulling those triggers.”
    “Conflict triggers?” asked John.
    “People go into conflict about things that are important to them—values that are tied to their sense of

    self-worth. So part of anticipating conflict is having a sense of what words or actions might threaten
    someone’s self-worth and push them into conflict—their conflict triggers.”
    “When I think about it like that,” reflected John, “I can see exactly what triggered Nancy’s conflict last

    night. Emma was crying about everything because she didn’t have a nap. Nancy wanted to do something to
    help her feel better, but Emma just needed to go to bed and she hadn’t had her dinner yet. On top of that,
    J.J. was struggling with his math homework but refused to let Nancy help him with it. She wanted to
    support him, but he was refusing her help—an affront to her self-worth. And then I walk in, and she
    interprets my Green reaction to the chaos as my being detached and not caring—also an important aspect
    of her self-worth.”
    “Well done. Now if you had just kept Nancy’s supportive, nurturing values in mind the second you saw

    “I would have understood what was triggering her conflict and would have been much quicker at

    finding the right response to her.”
    “The great thing about knowing where someone sits on the triangle is that it shortens the list of possible

    responses. As you stood there last night in first-stage Green conflict, racking your brain for the right
    words, you were probably all over the map with options. But knowing she’s Blue, the list becomes more
    manageable. She wants helping, supporting, and caring from you.”
    “Totally makes sense,” said John. “And I can see how that would work with everyone I know as long as

    I know their color on the triangle. But what about everyone else? I don’t suppose everyone can just wear a
    sign indicating their color?”
    “I’ve worked with clients who did just that. They posted each employee’s motivational values system

    colors on his or her office door or cubicle. But clearly that’s not always possible, so you have to learn to
    rely on your powers of inquiry and observation to assess whom you’re dealing with.”
    “I don’t think I have those powers,” sighed John.
    “You can develop them.”
    “Think about when we started working together—before we really got into all this. I asked what was

    important to you, what kind of environment you found most rewarding. You had no problem finding
    answers for those questions.”

    “You were pretty quick to know what drove you crazy and why.”
    “And that means what?” asked John.
    “Well, how would someone you had a relationship with—a coworker, a boss, a friend, even your wife

    —know those things about you?”
    “If that person was observant, I guess he or she would pick up on a lot of it,” said John. “But the easiest

    way would be to just ask me.”
    “That’s inquiry and observation,” said Mac. “How often are you asking questions like that?”
    “Like, ‘What’s your motivation?’ ”
    “Well it can be more subtle than that. Keep in mind that motivation is all about why. Why is that

    important to you? Why do you like working here? Why does that bug you? And then listen carefully for the
    reasons. The reasons will guide you right to the heart of what people value. And what you hear from a
    Blue will often sound very different from what you hear from a Green or a Red or someone in the Hub,
    like me.”
    “I can imagine. But how do you do it and make it seem natural?”
    “Well first off, it should become natural. Being in a relationship with someone should be about really

    knowing that person—respecting and valuing that person,” said Mac. “And the fact is, people generally
    like talking about themselves.”
    “So it’s not just me?” said John with a smirk.
    “The next time you meet someone, get to know them—don’t just ‘Rolodex’ them and jot down their

    information. People are so much more than a name and place of business. Find out who they are. You’ll
    instantly light a spark of closeness that you may never have experienced before in a twenty-second
    “Get to know them in twenty seconds?”
    “You don’t need their life story. Just figure out what language they’re speaking. It’s amazing the

    difference you’ll notice immediately. Both of you will feel it.”
    “Okay. I can do that.”
    “All right. Prove it,” said Mac with a mischievous smile.
    “Is that a challenge?” asked John.
    “See those two guys down there?” Mac pointed down the pier where two fishermen stood side by side,

    tending a row of fishing rods. “Go have a quick chat and come back and tell me what you think their
    motivational value system is.”
    “Seriously? What do I talk to them about?”
    “Doesn’t matter. Just meet them and practice inquiry and observation.”
    “Okay, fine. I’ll do it,” said John, sizing them up.
    “Oh, but you have only a few minutes. We’ve still got work to do here,” said Mac, as he launched John’s

    new hook out into the water—another perfect cast.

    John was quickly approaching the two men before it hit him that he might not get anywhere if they

    mistook him for some nut job; the pinstripe shirt and slacks were already working against him. So he
    slowed to a more casual pace and stuck his hands in his pocket.
    He looked the two men over to see if there might be clues in their appearance. The older man had a

    large brace on his left knee. He was dressed more warmly than he needed to be; perhaps he had been here

    since dawn. Curly gray hair peeked out from under his cap. The other man was shorter and stockier—
    probably around thirty years old. He was dressed in a camouflage T-shirt and jeans.
    He could hear them chatting, and they burst into laughter as John reached the railing beside them. John

    looked back at Mac, who gave him the thumbs-up. John had to chuckle to himself at how silly this felt. It
    reminded him of the old days of approaching a woman at a nightclub with his buddies back at the table
    cheering him on.
    He guessed it was time for his pickup line: “Having any luck out here?”
    The two men turned, noticing John for the first time. The older man spoke first, “Not too bad. A few

    “We’ve been using squid,” said John, trying to sound as if he knew what he was talking about. “Haven’t

    gotten a bite.”
    “Try mackerel or bunker,” advised the younger man.
    “Oh, yeah?”
    “I got plenty of mackerel if you need some,” offered the older man.
    “Maybe. Thanks,” said John, starting to worry that the conversation was becoming too much about fish.
    “You always fish in your Sunday best?” asked the younger man.
    “No, I was just meeting a friend out here on my lunch break. I’m a bit of a novice behind a reel.”
    “It’s a great hobby,” said the younger man.
    “What do you like about it?” asked John, fishing for some motivational clues.
    “Fishing? I like the whole process. Picking just the right spot. Picking the lures. Plus, my five kids hate

    it. It’s my own little vacation out of the house—just me and my thoughts.”
    John was pretty sure those sounded like Green reasons. He figured he’d float some verbal bait and see if

    he was right.
    “I’m guessing you do your homework,” said John. “Check the tide schedules, know what’s biting when?”
    The younger man just smiled and removed a folded wad of papers from his back pocket, “What do you

    want to know?”
    Bingo, John thought. He looked to the older man, “How about you? What brings you out here—besides

    this amazing weather?”
    “I’m here for the fish!” the old man said proudly.
    “And to talk my ear off,” added the younger man.
    “So you’re in it for the sport?” asked John, testing for Red.
    “No, I’m really here for the fish. Got a family to take care of. Broke my leg, and they put me on

    disability, but it’s peanuts compared to what I was making at the plant. The wife picked up another shift,
    but I’m still gonna do whatever it takes to help where I can.”
    John was thinking, Perhaps a Red-Blue blend. He tested the water: “So you’re here because you want

    to actively do your part to help your family.”
    “I’m of no use sitting on my big behind watching People’s Court. And the fish don’t seem to care I got a

    bum leg.”
    “Makes sense to me,” said John. “Well I’ll let you get back to it.”
    “Hey, when you’re ready to learn how to fish like a pro, I’m here most days,” offered the older man.
    “I just might take you up on that,” said John. “Have a good rest of your day.”
    John strutted back to Mac, a toothy smile on his face.
    “Success?” asked Mac.

    “Old guy’s a Red-Blue, and the younger guy’s a Green.”
    “Is that right? And how do you know?”
    “Old guy’s working hard to help his family, and the young guy’s all about the process.”
    “So let’s assume you got those reasons right. Do you necessarily know their motivational value

    “Sure, it was easy and kinda fun.” John said, proudly.
    Mac laughed. “I guess for you I turned getting to know people into a game—a challenge. But I want to

    caution you here. You made a good first step, but it’s important not to make judgments about people too
    quickly. You got clues from each of them by asking questions that elicited reasons—or motives—in the
    answer. But a motivational value system is a pattern of motives, and every person has some of every
    color. Even you sometimes do things for reasons that might sound Blue or Green, right?”
    “I suppose that’s true,” said John. “For the record, I did get more than one reason from each of them.”
    “And you may be absolutely right about them. But it takes more than a couple data points to show a

    “So I may know the reason they are here fishing today,” said John, “but I still don’t really know their

    whole motivational value system?”
    “Not with certainty,” said Mac.
    “Then what’s the point?”
    “It’s more than you knew five minutes ago. And it’s an important start—one that will improve your

    communication choices moving forward,” explained Mac. “I’m just cautioning you not to be so quick to
    declare that you know a person’s motivational value system.”
    “Heck, I don’t even know their names. But I know I’m right about those guys. I nailed it,” said John with

    a confident grin.
    Mac laughed. “Okay, John.”
    “The Red in me just wishes there was some kind of reward.”
    “How about I buy you a snow cone?” offered Mac, motioning to the snow cone cart by the edge of the

    John laughed, “Deal.”
    Mac began reeling in his line.

    In his bare feet, John tried to navigate around the small rocks that slowed his progress across the sand.

    This was accomplished while attempting to eat his lime snow cone with his dress shoes and socks pinned
    under his arm. Mac trudged on a few steps ahead.
    “Anticipating conflict starts with knowing whom you’re dealing with,” said Mac. “Then you have to ask

    yourself how people with different motivational values might view a situation. When two or more people
    see things differently, the potential is there for conflict. If you can figure that out, you have a good shot at
    steering clear of it.”
    “Okay, let’s say I can see a potential conflict coming. How do I stop it?”
    “That’s when it’s time to take action to prevent conflict—the second key.”
    Mac found a suitable spot on the beach and plopped down next to his coolers and fishing poles. John

    stood there, looking at his suit and shoes and wondering if they’d be salvageable after the beating they’d
    taken. With a sigh, he tossed them onto the sand and sat down next to Mac.
    “Anticipating is something you do in your head, but preventing is where the rubber meets the road. In

    your conference call with Bonnie, you figured out what part of the triangle she hailed from and prepared
    yourself. When that call began, you had to put all that anticipation into action. So tell me: Knowing that
    she was a Red-Green, how did you modify your behavior to prevent conflict?”
    “Obviously Red is easy for me, so I just had to act a little more Green than I’m used to. I slowed

    everything down and acknowledged her role as a good steward of her company’s resources. From there, I
    methodically walked through our service record and the competitive landscape. I tried to stay calm and
    listen to all her concerns. And when she raised objections, I think I was able to give a firm but logical
    “Based on your top strengths, I’d say you had to rummage through some of the deeper drawers in your

    tool box to pull that off.”
    “I guess I did, and it wasn’t always easy. But I knew I had to somehow keep her on board without giving

    away the store.”
    “What you did there so adeptly is what we call borrowing. It’s choosing a nonpreferred behavior to

    achieve a result that is productive in a relationship.”
    “By ‘nonpreferred,’ do you mean those strengths from the middle drawers in your toolbox?”
    “Yes. Effective borrowing typically comes out of those middle strengths—not too high or too low on

    your chart. They are behaviors you can call on in a pinch to get the job done right. In your call with
    Bonnie, you eased up on the competitive and the ambitious and brought out the methodical and reserved.”
    “Yeah, I guess I knew that if I jumped into a hard sell and made it a competition about price haggling,

    the whole conversation would spiral down pretty fast,” said John.
    “By borrowing, you had more productive communication and a better business result—and that’s what

    it’s all about.”
    “It sure felt good,” added John. “After the call, Blake, my salesman, was so blown away by how great it

    had gone that he asked me to coach him.”
    “Fluid, productive communication can feel pretty fantastic. The key to preventing conflict is figuring out

    how to get your intent across in a way that they can relate to and in a way that won’t be misinterpreted.
    You do that by borrowing—as you did with Bonnie—but you also do that by using your top strengths
    “Like not overdoing a strength,” recalled John.
    “Exactly. If people misperceive or misinterpret what you’re doing because you’re misusing a strength,

    then your communication is tainted. Your intent is lost, and the potential for conflict rises.”
    “What if you don’t even realize you’re overdoing the strength?” asked John.
    “If you can anticipate how a person may interpret your strengths, you can take steps to prevent it coming

    across as overdone.”
    “Like with Gail,” said John. “She values being cautious and thinking things through. So I need to be

    careful with my quick to act strength around her.”
    “Yes. You can prevent a lot of conflict with her just by regulating the volume on that one. It’s a behavior

    that’s probably a real conflict trigger for her because acting quickly pushes her to operate way out of her
    comfort zone.”
    “Let me see if I’ve got it,” said John. “Preventing conflict is really all about the deliberate, appropriate

    use of strengths in your relationships.”
    “Exactly,” said Mac, proudly. “Anticipating and preventing conflict are strategies to attempt a

    preemptive strike on conflict. A well-chosen behavior on your part can prevent conflict with another

    person. But you need to prevent conflict in yourself sometimes too—and that might have more to do with
    choosing your perceptions than choosing your behaviors. However, even our best efforts can fail. There
    will be times where your self-worth is threatened and accepting that invitation is inevitable for yourself
    or someone else. That’s why it’s important to get better at identifying conflict.”
    “Yeah, that’s an important one,” said John. “I seem to be missing the signs with Nancy and not realizing

    she’s there until it’s too late.”
    “Exactly. You’re not recognizing her conflict until she’s risen to stage 2 Red. And trust me, John, you

    will have a much better outcome if you can deal with the conflict in stage 1.”
    “I’ll sleep better too,” said John, rubbing his stiff neck.
    “So it’s critical to learn to spot the three basic approaches taken in conflict: the Blue accommodating,

    the Red rising to the challenge, or the Green cautious analysis. And these approaches can be arranged in
    any sequence for a person.”
    “How can you tell what stage someone is in?” asked John.
    “Chances are you won’t—at least not until you’ve truly mastered the nuances of all this. While it’s best

    to address conflict in stage 1, you probably won’t know if you’re witnessing the first or second stage of a
    color unless you know someone well or know their inventory results. The conflict sequence is going to
    show up in different ways for different people. So the most helpful advice is to learn to identify all the
    different colors of conflict.”
    “It seems like Red is the easiest one to spot,” said John.
    “I’d say that’s true,” agreed Mac. “Mainly because it’s the most unrestrained and vocal approach. People

    who use Red first would say they’re just rising to the challenge being offered.”
    John thought of Randy urging him to push back and get tough with Bonnie during the negotiation. Randy

    was never one to back down when someone challenged him.
    “You know Green because you live it,” continued Mac. “People who use Green first want to step back,

    be cautious, and make sense of it all. They get quiet or demand facts or examples.”
    “Yep, that’s me,” agreed John. “I guess the one I’m really struggling with is Blue. If Nancy is a Blue

    when everything is fine, what do I look for to distinguish whether she’s slipped into conflict?”
    “People who initially use a Blue approach would probably say they are trying to keep the peace and

    accommodate the needs of others. They want to smooth things over.”
    “I get that, but it’s just so subtle,” said John, discouraged.
    “Remember, you’re looking for a shift. Even someone moving from a Blue motivational value system to

    Blue conflict will show a subtle shift. You need to look for the clues. With Blue, they may start to fidget,
    clear their throat, or show some other sign of discomfort. They’ll sometimes sit back and hope others will
    take care of the issue, so they don’t have to face it. You’ll often see someone in Blue conflict feeling bad
    or accepting the blame. And they don’t want to fuel the fire, so they stop sharing how they feel. Now
    there’s a clue for you!”
    “How so?”
    “When things are going well, is Nancy shy about sharing her feelings with you?” asked Mac.
    “There you go. Ask a person in Blue first-stage conflict if they’re okay and you’ll start getting short,

    canned answers like, ‘Oh, no, I’m fine,’ or ‘No problem.’ Conflict makes them uncomfortable so they go
    from freely sharing to wanting to direct attention elsewhere.”
    “Wow,” said John. “When you say it like that, she has been giving me plenty of warning signs. I think

    I’ve been missing them for a very long time.”
    “But now you know what to look for. Spotting the shift in motivation and those subtle clues of conflict

    are especially difficult with people like Nancy whose conflict color is so close to their motivational
    value system. But by raising your awareness and successfully spotting it in stage 1, you can avoid the pain
    and suffering of stage 2 or 3.”
    “My boss, Gail, has a pretty good poker face, too,” said John. “Sometimes I don’t know how she feels

    about what I’m doing. Happy or mad, she’s a blank screen. It’s not until later that it comes out that
    something I did or said really bothered her. I’m blindsided.”
    “It goes back to gaining that understanding of what motivates the person, what their values and priorities

    are. Of course, you have to answer those questions for yourself as well. And only then can you identify
    where there could be a clash in styles. You’ll have anticipated and identified conflict, even with people
    who don’t show much change.”
    “I suppose I could just ask if something is bothering her,” said John, as if struck by the obvious.
    Mac looked over at him and smiled, “Asking sincere and appropriate questions with the intent of

    preventing or managing conflict is almost never a bad idea.”
    John was staring out at the ocean as a wave crashed louder than he had noticed before. The two men

    watched as the water pushed forward toward their spot with unrestrained force. John looked over at Mac,
    who didn’t flinch. John readied for a quick retreat but the creeping water stopped three feet from their toes
    and receded as quickly as it had approached.
    “Tide’s coming in,” said Mac. “Why don’t we pick this up later.”
    Mac stood and brushed the sand off. John glanced at his note pad.
    “What about manage conflict and resolve conflict?” asked John. His own voice reminded him of his

    daughter’s—as if pleading for another ride on the carousel.
    “Oh, those are good ones.”
    “You’re going to leave me hanging?”
    “I’m going to leave you with some advice, John,” said Mac, picking up his fishing equipment. “From

    one first-stage Green husband to another, call your wife and apologize about last night. I don’t know how
    much you’ve told her about the work we’re doing together, but she might be less upset if she understood
    how you process conflict. You don’t want her continuing to think you’re this cold, uncaring guy because
    you’re not.”
    They were simple words, but the sincerity in Mac’s eyes warmed John to his core. They energized him,

    and the dread he felt about going home that evening had been replaced by anticipation. He turned and saw
    that Mac was now already halfway to the street. “Thanks, Mac!” John called out.
    Mac turned and acknowledged him with a smile.

    Chapter Eight

    You bought new clothes,” observed Nancy, as she sipped her wine.
    “Yeah, my other ones smelled like Fisherman’s Wharf,” said John.
    Nancy’s eyebrows furrowed as she laughed. “What? Why?”
    “Long story.”
    John had in fact headed straight to the mall after leaving the beach. He had made the reservation for

    their favorite restaurant from the car, and—for the first time ever—he had bought roses from a man with a
    bucket on the side of the road. He realized the whole “flowers-in-hand apology” was a bit of a cliché. But
    the fact that John had never actually done it himself gave it a flair of originality. At least, that’s how he
    rationalized it.
    “You were able to get the kids covered?” asked John.
    “Yeah, my mom came over.”
    John nodded and drained the wine from his glass. He sensed an awkwardness that proved the dust had

    yet to settle between them despite his uncharacteristic attempt at chivalry. He felt the heavy weight of
    Green conflict tugging on his thoughts. He considered excusing himself for a trip to the restroom but fought
    back the urge—determined to take action. After all, confronting the drama from the night before was why
    he was here.
    “I suppose we should talk about last night,” said John.
    “Look, I’m sorry about how I acted,” said Nancy, striking first.
    “No. You have no need to apologize. This is my apology.”
    “Are we going to fight over who gets to apologize?” Nancy smiled.
    “How sad would that be?”
    “Very. Anyway, I shouldn’t have jumped down your throat the second you walked in the door. It wasn’t

    very considerate on my part.”
    “Well, I realize the day had been kind of a disaster for you,” said John. “I could have handled it a lot

    better. I want you to know I’m really working on that.”
    “I know you are,” said Nancy, as she raised her glass. “And I accept your apology.”
    John finished refilling his glass from the bottle chilling in the stand next to their table. He met his glass

    with hers in a toast.
    “And I, yours.”
    Nancy pulled back her glass, mid-sip.
    “Oh! I almost forgot. I have some good news!”
    “What kind of news?”
    “I received my first signed contract today. A big freelance gig with that nonprofit I was telling you

    “Really? Congratulations!” said John, as they reclinked their glasses. “How much?”
    “How much? You mean money? I don’t know. Enough.”
    John could sense the annoyance building in her words. Money may have been a motivator for him but

    never for her. He mentally put his Blue glasses on and tried to dig his way back out.
    “Sorry,” said John. “You know me—all about the negotiation. That’s wonderful news, Nancy. You’re so

    good at helping people, and I know how much it means to you to get back out there.”
    “Yeah, it’ll be nice being of service to someone who actually values what I can do for them. The kids

    sure don’t.”
    “Oh, that’s not true. Whether they say it or not, they appreciate all that you do. We all do. You’re

    “Thanks,” said Nancy with a heartfelt smile.
    “When do you start?”
    “Monday,” she said with a tinge of dread. “It’s going to keep me pretty busy over the next three weeks.”
    Nancy must have seen behind John’s smile as he assessed what that would mean for him in terms of

    carting the kids around and being home on time.
    “We talked about this,” she reminded him.
    “I know. It’s fine. I’m genuinely happy for you.”
    “I can have my mother help out more.”
    “No, I got it,” said John. “You do so much for me and the kids, the least I can do is give you an

    opportunity to do something for yourself.”
    Nancy tilted her head and grinned, “Okay, who are you and what have you done with my husband?”
    “What?” asked John, innocently.
    “You’re being so…”
    “I was going to say, ‘Perfect.’ Is Cyrano de Bergerac sitting behind you?”
    “I’ve just been learning a lot about how I can be managing my relationships better.”
    “I thought these meetings were all about conflict.”
    “Well, yes. They’re about managing conflict,” said John, “but they’re also about preventing it altogether.

    And that starts with knowing the people in my life better and interacting with them in a more productive
    way. The best way to deal with conflict is never having to get there in the first place.”
    “Well you’ve made quite an about-face since last night.”
    “It’s really starting to click for me. Dr. Mac is helping me understand that the way I see the world can be

    pretty different from how you or Gail or anyone else sees it.”
    “And how do you see it?”
    “I’m a Red—an Assertive-Directing—which means I’m usually focused on tasks, getting the job done,

    and getting results. It also means that I like challenging, fast-moving, and competitive environments,
    where I have the opportunity for recognition and advancement.”
    “Well that explains why you’re taking this missed promotion so hard.”
    “Yeah. That job was really important to me. I value success, and I work hard to get it. When I didn’t get

    the promotion, it felt as if my values were being threatened.”
    “But you still have your family and friends, a good job, nice house—you have a lot to be thankful for.

    There’ll be other promotions.”
    “And you’re absolutely right. But see, you don’t value those Red things like results and task

    accomplishment the way I do, so it’s harder for you to understand why it tore me up the way that it did.”
    “So what do I value?” asked Nancy.
    “Well, you’ll need to take the inventory,” returned John with a smile. “But I have my guesses.”
    “Based on how you’ve laid it on so far tonight, I’d say you’ve guessed right.”

    John smiled. “You’re my true Blue, honey. Motivated by helping and protecting other people. You want
    to help make a difference in people’s lives—hence your giving away your talent to that nonprofit.”
    “Hey, I’m making money,” said Nancy, playfully.
    “Does my assessment sound right to you?” asked John.
    “Uh, yeah,” offered Nancy.
    “So a lot of times, those differences between you and me can get us into trouble if we don’t quite

    understand them. Before I started all this, I just assumed you saw the world the same way I did, and as a
    result, I sometimes saw your behavior as weird or counterproductive and got really frustrated by it.”
    “So now you understand me better?”
    “I’m not just understanding you. I’m respecting the way you see things. This stuff really helps you value

    what people are bringing to the table.”
    “Sounds like really amazing work you’re doing, John.”
    “And I haven’t even gotten to the conflict sequence.”
    “Conflict is a sequence?”
    John nodded. “In three stages. And it reveals how people change their motivation and behavior during

    conflict. We’re just trying to protect what’s important to us and work our way back to a place where we
    feel good about ourselves.”
    “Wow. Now you’ve lost me,” said Nancy.
    “Remember the way I reacted last night when I came in the door?”
    “You didn’t react at all. You just stood there.”
    “Exactly. Did that look like a man who’s a hard-charging Red?”
    “Not at all.”
    “Because in the face of conflict, I changed.”
    “Into a statue?”
    John laughed. “Maybe I looked like a statue, but that was my first-stage Green conflict. For me, I deal

    with conflict by needing to step back and think it through. It’s a very analytical process that happens to
    Nancy considered that for a moment. “That totally makes sense. You’ve always kind of shut down or run

    “But only because I need a minute to process it all. It’s not hiding; it’s preparing.”
    “I never considered that,” said Nancy.
    “Because in the past we haven’t understood how we’re different, it’s led to conflict between us. As we

    start to understand and appreciate how differently we operate, I think we could have an even better
    relationship and spend less time in conflict.”
    “I love the sound of that,” said Nancy.
    “And this is going to help me in all of my relationships—both at work and home.”
    “So what do I do in conflict?” Now she was curious.
    “I used to think you went Red first—ready to start swinging. But as I’ve learned more about how

    conflict works, I’m pretty sure Red is your second stage of conflict. You initially go Blue in conflict.”
    “Which means what?”
    “You accommodate—try to keep the peace.”
    “Well, a lot of conflict is just not worth getting into,” she said defensively. “I just want to smooth things

    over so we can move on.”
    “See? I’m right! First-stage Blue,” exclaimed John.
    “Okay. Congratulations, smart guy.”
    “Sorry. I’ve just been screwing this up for so long I’m kind of excited to start getting it right. Things are

    going to be a whole lot better, I think.”
    “I think so too,” said Nancy, raising her glass.
    “If we keep toasting, we’re going to need to order another bottle of wine,” said John, smiling broadly.

    “Knock, knock,” said John, as he stuck his head into Gail’s office. “Is now still a good time?”
    Gail swiveled away from her computer screen and peered at him over her glasses, “Sure, John. You’re

    right on time. Have a seat.”
    John settled into one of the chairs in front of Gail’s desk and placed a file folder within reach on the

    empty chair next to him. He had started training himself to picture a colored glow around people as he
    interacted with them. Currently he was envisioning a thick, Green halo radiating above Gail’s tight hair
    bun. It was a silly game he played, but so far, it was working for him.
    “I appreciate you making time for me today,” said John. “I know our weekly check-in is normally on

    Friday, but I wanted to provide some info on a new opportunity I’ve been cultivating. I thought I should
    give you some time with the data before our meeting at the end of the week.”
    “Sounds good. Let’s see what you have.”
    “Great,” he said, as he grabbed the folder. “There’re a lot of moving parts with this one, so please feel

    free to stop me if you have any questions or if I miss something.”
    “All right.”
    “So a couple of weeks ago, I was finally able to meet with Roger Hutchins, the COO at Ambrose

    “Really,” said Gail, shifting forward in her seat. “We’ve been trying to get in front of Hutchins for

    almost two years.”
    “I know. I was starting to think he didn’t actually exist,” said John. “To be fair, Lisa Meyer, my new rep

    who works the Ambrose account, has done a great job networking with some key people, and she
    deserves the credit. Lisa invited me to be part of the meeting with Mr. Hutchins when all of the pieces fell
    into place.”
    “Lisa Meyer, huh? Bring in a copy of her résumé on Friday,” said Gail, intrigued by the potential of a

    new rising star. “How did your meeting go?”
    John smiled. He was instantly struck with the urge to boast about his expert handling of Hutchins. He’d

    been in rare form that day, and the negotiation had been perfect. It was all John could do to keep from
    jumping straight to the outcome. But there was that big Green glow reminding him to stick to the plan—
    keep it nice and organized.
    “Well, the meeting lasted over an hour, but the short version is that he’s open to using our products

    exclusively if we’re willing to partner with them on a new marketing campaign and share in the
    development costs associated with integrating our new components. I don’t think I have to tell you how
    big this is. If we’re willing to come to the table, I think he’ll move forward with us.”
    John watched as Gail just sat there, slowly nodding. Against his better judgment, he couldn’t resist

    adding one little Red starburst to the pitch, “This could be a game changer for both companies.”
    “It sounds promising, but there are a lot of details to consider—a lot of questions to be answered. I

    hope you don’t expect an answer from me today, because this is going to take some pretty detailed
    John realized he was at the conflict crossroads. Of course, he wanted an answer right away, but if he

    pushed Gail into conflict, this deal might never get done. He took a deep breath and wrestled his quick to
    act back into his tool belt.
    “I completely understand. There’s a lot of complexity with this one, and we’d be crazy not to do our

    homework and make sure we can justify the investment. I’ve already begun looking at the numbers, and I’d
    like to share some of the research I’ve started. I’m hoping you can let me know what questions I still
    should be asking. Then we can regroup on Friday.”
    “When is Ambrose expecting an answer?” asked Gail.
    “I told Hutchins that we would need to do our due diligence, and he agreed. We’re not meeting again

    until next month. In the meantime, he gave me access to his key operations and marketing guys for ongoing
    dialogue. It looks like they’re going to be pretty open with their information.”
    “That’s good, John. If we have that kind of access, we should be able to make an informed decision in

    that amount of time. Where are you on the research?”
    John handed her a thin, spiral-bound document.
    “I had Jane in Business Analytics run a forecast using four scenarios. The one that looks best to me is on

    top, and the other three follow. Leslie in Marketing helped me with the business case. You’ll see that the
    marketing spend is outlined in section 2 along with detailed budgets for the campaign. I’m sure their guys
    will want to chime in, but I think we’ve given them a good starting point—at least enough to make a
    conservative estimate of our costs.”
    Gail leaned back in her chair, her head already buried in the data. After a thick silence where John

    could swear he heard his own pulse, she peered over the top of the document.
    “We may want to talk to legal.”
    “I thought so too,” said John, hiding a smile. “Our associate counsel is reviewing it and promised to e-

    mail us his opinion in advance of our Friday meeting.”
    Gail closed the document and placed it squarely on her desk.
    “I have to say, John, I am thoroughly impressed.”
    “With my research or the fact that I was able to wait two weeks before telling you I got to Hutchins?”

    said John smiling.
    “Both,” said Gail. “And frankly, your timing couldn’t be more opportune.” Her voice grew quiet as she

    glanced out the door. “There’s a rumor that the new chairman of the board is likely to show up for an
    unannounced meeting sometime soon.”
    “Philip Keyes is coming here? Should I be worried?”
    “We all should be. He’s been getting pretty vocal about his displeasure with this division of the

    corporation. I think he’s coming in to shake things up. It’s anyone’s guess what that might mean.”
    John felt the Green wave of first-stage conflict crash over him. Keyes had recently bought enough shares

    of Starr to secure himself a position on the board and had quickly been elected chairman. He was
    notorious for walking into the companies his corporation owned and wreaking havoc. A cost cutter,
    ruthless, vindictive, watch what you say, don’t get noticed—and avoid at all costs. He was rumored to
    have visited one company and ordered everyone on even-numbered floors laid off. John knew that as
    word of Keyes’s impending visit spread through the halls of Starr Industries, conflict was going to surge
    from every corner of the building.

    Chapter Nine

    Boiled, fried, or scrambled?” asked the bubbly twenty-something waitress.
    “It’s anyone’s guess,” sighed John.
    “Come again?” she asked, befuddled.
    “Don’t mind him,” said Mac. “He’s in conflict.”
    “Oh,” she said, staring blankly. “Why don’t I give you all another minute.”
    “Thanks,” said Mac.
    The morning sun streamed in through the windows of the downtown diner. John was wishing he had his

    sunglasses as he stared at the moving shadow produced by the coffee cup he rotated on the table.
    “You don’t even know if anything’s going to happen,” said Mac.
    “It doesn’t matter. Everyone is freaking out anyway.”
    “Good time to test your skills.”
    “Skills.” said John, gloomily. “Why does it feel as if you taught me the dog paddle and now I’m being

    thrown into the middle of the ocean?”
    “Believe me, John. You’re practically a triathlete. Look at what you’ve already been able to do in your

    relationships at work and at home.”
    “I know. I guess I’m just feeling a little…”
    “Green?” suggested Mac. “You could use this opportunity to be a real example for your coworkers.

    How far would that go toward changing any lingering misperceptions of you?”
    John finally looked up from his coffee.
    “Look, don’t worry,” reassured Mac. “Today is all about navigating conflict that already exists. We’ve

    looked at how to prevent it and identify it. Now we’ll take on managing it.”
    John exhaled deeply.
    “You’re going to come out of this diner a master,” promised Mac. “But first you have to come back.”
    “Come back from where?” asked John, wearily.
    “Your cave. Or whatever dark place you go in Green conflict. I need you present. We’re not going to get

    anywhere with you in conflict. When we’re stuck in a place of protecting our self-worth, it’s much harder
    to help others protect or restore what’s important to them. And that’s the primary mission of managing
    “Helping them out of conflict?”
    “Not quite. Managing conflict is about creating the conditions that empower others to manage

    themselves out of their emotional state of conflict. It’s also about managing yourself out. What I’m asking
    of you right now is what you need to be able to do later.”
    “You can’t rescue someone who’s drowning when you’re drowning too. Is that the idea?” asked John.
    “Exactly! To effectively manage conflict, we have to begin with ourselves,” Mac made a fist and hit his

    chest, producing two dull thuds. “It starts right here. If we’re pulled into conflict ourselves, we’re usually
    not in a great position to help others.”
    “I think I scared the waitress away,” said John.
    Mac gave her a wave from across the restaurant.
    “Like most everything we’ve talked about,” said Mac, “it’s a choice. As soon as we know what’s

    happening under the hood, we have to take responsibility for it. If you’re feeling the conflict right now, just
    choose out of it.”
    “Simple as that?”
    “You’re in charge, remember?” Mac smiled. “That’s not to say you won’t feel that Green shift, but use

    that first-stage shift like a smoke alarm—an alert system. If you were sitting in your house and the smoke
    detector went off, would you keep sitting there, or would you take some sort of action?”
    “Action,” said John.
    “And that action would depend on the situation. Is the toast burning, or is the whole kitchen on fire? Do

    you open a window, or do you run outside and call for help? When you stop letting conflict control you,
    you’ll hear that alarm sooner, and you’ll be prepared to respond appropriately.”
    John smiled at the visual Mac had so vividly painted. The truth was, he had often found himself sitting

    in the smoke of his own “burnt toast,” while other people wondered if he was going to do something about
    it. He wondered why he was willing to put himself through something so unpleasant and unproductive.
    The waitress reappeared at their table.
    “Hi,” she said, cheerily. “All better?”
    “Much,” said John.
    After ordering breakfast and getting his coffee topped off, John received a text on his cell phone. He

    shook his head as he read it.
    Deep breath, John, he said to himself.
    “What’s going on?” asked Mac.
    “Oh, nothing. I have this one rep who feels he needs to run every little thing by me.”
    “Now, besides taking a deep breath, what else can you do to keep from letting that bother you about

    “Besides leaving my phone in the car?” said John grinning.
    “Yes, besides complete avoidance of the relationship.”
    “Well, like you suggested a few weeks ago about things I find annoying, look for the strength at play

    behind the behavior.”
    “Great one. Managing yourself in conflict can be as easy as taking some time to see things differently.

    When you do that, you can start to understand, and perhaps even appreciate, another person’s motives.
    Why do you think your rep is contacting you so much?”
    “I don’t think he likes the isolation of being out on the road. He’s a pretty social guy—always coming up

    with an endless list of options for his customers. If I had to guess, I’d say he’s a Hub.”
    “So a Flexible-Cohering like me,” said Mac. “What’s the strength he’s overdoing?”
    “Indecisive? He wants to be so flexible and open to ideas that he seems to find it impossible to make a

    “To him, being flexible and part of a cohesive, interactive group brings him self-worth.”
    “There are definitely worse things, I guess,” said John.
    “Certainly not worth getting into conflict over. When you take the time to get to know a person at a level

    where you understand his motives, values, and sources of self-worth and esteem, you are less likely to
    find yourself in conflict. It’s hard to dislike a person that you know.”
    “And by know, you mean know their motivational value system?” asked John.
    “Yes. Just understand them. Know where they’re coming from.”
    The waitress returned with their orders. “Here we go, guys.”

    “Thank you,” said Mac.
    John studied the waitress as she placed his eggs in front of him. “You seem to enjoy your work. What’s

    your favorite part?”
    “Of working here?” she asked. “Well I’m working my way through nursing school right now, but I

    suppose I just like being around people. You meet so many different kinds of people in a place like this.
    It’s fun, I guess.”
    “Cool,” said John.
    Mac snuck John a wink.
    “Enjoy!” she said. “Let me know if you need anything.”
    With that, she was gone.
    As John said, “Blue,” he heard Mac say, “Hub.”
    “Looks like we have a difference of opinion,” noted Mac. “What ‘reason’ did you hear?”
    “She likes people and wants to be a nurse. Made me think Blue. You?”
    “I could see that,” said Mac. “What I heard was that she gets to meet a lot of different kinds of people,

    and that it’s fun. As you can see, our filters influence what we see and hear. I might have heard the Hub
    reason. That sounded best to me.”
    “So who’s right?” asked John.
    “It might be a little early in our relationship with Natasha to know for sure.”
    “Who’s Natasha?”
    “The Hub waitress,” said Mac with a self-satisfied smile, “unless she’s wearing someone else’s name

    “Ha! You think you’re right!” John accused.
    “I’m kidding. But we could both be right.”
    “Well, that’s no fun!”
    “It’s something to keep in mind. Remember on the stage how the red, blue, and green spotlights blended

    together? They showed white in the center. Motivational value systems have different shades with no
    strict borders. Somebody can be clearly in the Blue, or their Blue can be a little more flexible—closer to
    the Hub. Recognizing a person’s motivational value system is a fine art. We can start by looking for one of
    the seven types, but as we learn more, we can fine-tune our understanding to notice when people are on
    the border between two types. We can tell if someone’s Blue motivational values also have a bit of
    assertive Red, analytical Green, or flexible Hub mixed in.”
    “So the triangle is really just a New York loft apartment,” said John.
    Mac cocked his head and smiled, “How so?”
    “There’re no walls. One corner is the bedroom area, and another is the family room area. You recognize

    the differences between them, but the exact point where one room ends and the other one begins is kind of
    “Okay, sure,” said Mac, laughing. “The triangle is a big loft apartment. Now where were we?”
    “The Blue waitress,” said John.
    “No, that was just one of my Hub tangents. We’re here to talk about managing conflict.”
    “Oh, right. That.” John sighed, remembering the doom and gloom pervading his office right now.
    “Managing conflict has two components,” continued Mac. “Managing yourself and managing the

    relationship. Managing yourself is about addressing your own feelings in the conflict, discovering what
    got you there, and finding a path back to your motivational value system. It’s about keeping your energy

    available for the other component: managing the relationship. Then you can create the conditions where
    the other person can manage themselves.”
    “What do you mean by, ‘create the conditions?’ ” asked John.
    “Knowing a person is in Red, Green, or Blue conflict and respecting that motivation. It means giving

    them what they need in that moment.”
    “Like the different ways you handled Mabel and your guitar hero Kraig?”
    “Exactly. Even the way I handled you.”
    “When you arrived on the pier the other day, you were still deep in your first-stage Green about the fight

    you had with your wife. You may not have noticed it, but I didn’t push my agenda for the day. I gave you
    some space to come around. I let you talk about what was bothering you when you were ready.”
    “Huh,” said John, impressed.
    “When people are in the cautious Green conflict state, give them some time or space if possible. If

    something needs to be dealt with more urgently, try to set a time for a discussion—even if it’s only five
    minutes away. Is that the way you’d like to be handled when you’re in conflict?”
    “Absolutely. It’s funny. After I know a big shipment has been sent to a customer and I see a call come in

    from them, I always let it go to voice mail, just in case something is wrong with the order. I’m not
    avoiding them necessarily. I just want to hear their message first. I call right back, but even that extra
    minute helps me feel prepared for the call.”
    “Hey, whatever it takes to manage yourself,” said Mac. “When people are in the Blue accommodating-

    conflict state, it’s important to listen, check in with them, and give them several opportunities to express
    themselves. They really want to smooth it over, so they may say that everything is ‘fine.’ But asking a
    second time could help them feel more open to say what’s really bothering them—and it shows them you
    really care. You want to help them avoid bottling it up, because there’s only so much grinning and bearing
    it a person can take.”
    “When that bottle bursts, you better duck,” contributed John from personal experience with Nancy.
    Mac nodded. “People in the Red rise-to-the-challenge state want to be heard. You’ll want to quickly

    identify any points of agreement and ideally take action—or at least commit to taking action—if
    appropriate. And if you disagree on how, at least try to get on common ground about the desired
    “It seems like doing all that would be pretty difficult if I’m in my first-stage Green. How can I quickly

    talk things out with someone in Red conflict if I need a minute to regroup?”
    “Again, that’s why it’s important to get yourself under control and out of conflict so you can better

    manage the relationship. Here’s what’s worked well for me. Take the time to fully listen to their concern—
    look at it as collecting information. Then ask when a decision needs to be made and agree to talk again at
    that time. That gives you the time you need to think and lets them know that you’re serious about
    addressing the issue. With practice, it will come more naturally.”
    “So do your best to meet them where they’re at,” said John.
    “Exactly,” confirmed Mac. “Conflict is an emotional state. It’s very difficult to get resolution until

    people’s emotional needs are met. Show them you understand where they’re at and approach them based
    on how they’re feeling in the conflict. Find out what’s important to them, respect that—and only then
    should you introduce what’s important to you.”
    “It’s like a good sales conversation,” said John. “Listen to the client’s needs, and then talk about what

    you have to offer that fits their needs.”
    “That’s a good way to look at it. And if it’s done well, both parties benefit from the relationship.”
    “Well that’s a conversation I think I could pull off,” said John.
    “Of course you can,” said Mac. “But be careful not to confuse ‘ending the conversation’ with ‘ending

    the conflict.’ If there’s a break in the conversation, it might mean that people are still thinking about it, not
    that the conflict is over.”
    “When is the conflict over?”
    “Well, let’s talk about that,” said Mac.
    “I used to say it was over when I won,” said John, grinning. “Is it safe to assume Dr. Mac Wilson

    doesn’t condone that viewpoint?”
    “That would be safe to assume, yes,” replied Mac. “As excruciating as it may be, we need to avoid the

    temptation to want to win the fight or beat the other person. Creating winners and losers in conflict is
    rarely effective in the long run. In fact, it can lead to more conflict in the future.”
    “So what then? The old win-win solution?”
    “Not really. At least not yet. Win-win is a great goal for negotiation, problem solving, and other forms

    of opposition. But because conflict, as we’ve defined it, is an emotional state between people, win-win
    conceptually falls flat. It doesn’t take into account the very real presence of emotions like anger, fear,
    helplessness, uncertainty, frustration, isolation. Those emotions must be worked through before any
    objective win-win outcomes can be addressed.”
    “Is this where I have to become an armchair therapist?”
    “Working through people’s emotions can sound daunting,” said Mac, “but if you approach it in the

    context of everything we’ve been talking about, it becomes a little easier. Resolving conflict is the fifth
    and final key to having a nice conflict. It’s the final step in the conflict journey.”
    “And where is that journey headed?”
    “Home,” said Mac.
    “Happy place?” asked John.
    Mac nodded. “It really boils down to this: to create movement toward resolution, we need to show the

    other person the path back to self-worth.”
    “Where they feel good about themselves,” said John.
    “Exactly. Where they’re not distracted by the emotions of conflict. That’s why the manage key is so

    important. It empowers you to understand the emotions you’re seeing in others and approach them where
    they are at the moment; to connect. But to really get resolution, we need to help them back to self-worth.
    Two people could have the same emotional experience in conflict—like you and Gail both being first-
    stage Green—but you could have entirely different motivational value systems—different destinations on
    your return journey.”
    “In conflict,” said John, “Gail and I both need time to think and make sense of it all. But we’re trying to

    go back to different spots on the triangle.”
    “Right. You want back to Red, and she wants back to Green. Your path home is different from her path,”

    said Mac.
    “What does that mean in terms of what I do in a conflict situation with her?” asked John
    “For you, getting conflict resolved means turning that Green thinking and logic into action, so you can

    feel good about yourself. Your Green conflict needs to produce a Red results-oriented solution. For Gail,
    her Green conflict needs to produce a Green solution, methodical and reproducible. Even though you

    often experience similar feelings at the beginning of conflict, the trips back to your respective
    motivational value systems go to very different destinations.”
    “So we won’t be on the same flight,” said John with a smile.
    “Not unless you have a reason to be in Greenland.”
    John took a large bite of food—mostly so he could absorb what he had just heard. When he got into

    conflict with Gail, he’d been trying to get her out of it by pushing her where he wanted to go instead of
    where she wanted to go. She wanted back to Green, but he was dragging her in his direction. As a result,
    their conflicts went on longer than they needed to.
    “This explains a lot,” said John. “When Gail and I are in conflict, I’m trying to make it better, but I’m

    actually making it worse. What I need to do instead is come up with the action-oriented solution that I
    need but make sure that it’s also organized and reproducible. When I come up with an idea to solve a
    problem for one customer, she always looks at what kind of precedent it sets for how we solve this with
    other customers.”
    “Very insightful, John,” said Mac. “Now what about other people?”
    John’s thoughts first went to Nancy. He had always believed that conflict was resolved when she had

    agreed on an action, a goal, or an outcome. But resolution to Nancy was different. For her, the goal didn’t
    matter so much as the people. Sometimes he would be pushing for a result, and she would say things like,
    ‘You’ve got so many things to be thankful for already.’ When he dismissed that type of statement, she
    usually got mad at him—second-stage Red. He was trying to send Nancy down the wrong path and paid
    for it with escalating conflict.
    When his mind returned to work, he thought of Leslie; she didn’t like the way he and Randy’s

    competition disrupted the team. She wanted everyone to get along, to collaborate. The path out of conflict
    for her was all about consensus and getting everyone on the same page. She wanted back to the Hub.
    Randy was another story entirely. John rarely had conflict with Randy (though he had learned that other

    people, like Leslie, saw their treatment of each other during competition as conflict). On the rare
    occasions when there was conflict between them, it had been easy to resolve because their path out went
    to the same place. The journey back to Red meant simply showing the results and—boom—the conflict
    was over.
    Breakfast was soon over. John and Mac left the diner and wandered down the bustling city streets.

    “Keep in mind,” said Mac. “Resolution is not for one person at the expense of another; it’s not ending

    the conversation. True conflict resolution makes it easier for both people to feel good about themselves
    and the relationship. It’s also important to know that not every conflict is going to get resolved. Part of
    managing conflict is recognizing when it’s time to exit or perhaps even end a relationship.”
    The comment reminded John that this was their final meeting. Although he was excited to continue trying

    out all of the tools that Mac had revealed to him, John began to wonder if he was as ready as Mac seemed
    to think he was. The unrest at work was weighing on him. And at home, although John and Nancy were
    seeing positive changes in their communication, it still wasn’t as consistent as he would like.
    “Can I ask you a personal question?” asked John.
    “You can always ask. I’ll reserve the right to not answer.”
    “Good enough. You seem to have it all figured out. I guess you and your wife never have conflict?

    Picture-perfect marriage, right?”
    “Not true at all,” said Mac. “We still have conflict, but it’s less than it used to be. We’re able to prevent

    the majority of it. Some people say that a relationship without conflict is probably a sign that you’re not

    talking about the things that really matter. And they’re probably right.”
    “I’d agree with that,” said John.
    “Remember that conflict comes from a perceived threat to self-worth, and each person has a unique

    sense of identity and a unique view of what self-worth looks like to him or her. No two people have
    exactly the same values. So it’s almost automatic that an important relationship will have some conflict in
    it. And in that conflict, there is the opportunity to learn about what really matters to you and the other
    person. To keep a relationship going, you’ve got to manage the conflict so that the threats to self-worth are
    removed and resolve it so the results of the conflict confirm each person’s self-worth. That’s truly the
    bottom line of what it means to have a nice conflict.”
    “Simple as that, huh, Doc?”
    “It comes down to making good choices and using our skills to prevent it. And if you can’t prevent the

    conflict, then you have to manage it.”
    “Like the old saying: If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” said John.
    “I guess that’s true,” said Mac. “If you can’t prevent it, manage it.”
    In a small park across the street, several pairs of men played chess in the brisk morning sunshine. Mac

    checked his watch and stopped.
    “Do you have a minute? There’s someone I’d like you to talk to.”
    Before John could reply, Mac was dodging cars on his way over to the park.
    By the time John had made his way safely across the street, Mac was already seated at one of the

    concrete tables. Mac waved him over.
    “Over here, John,” called Mac.
    The man sitting opposite Mac turned, and John instantly recognized the glowing, weathered face of

    Walter Freeman.
    “Walter?” asked John in disbelief.
    Walter slowly stood and grasped John’s outstretched hand.
    “Well, whaddya know?” said Walter. “What a wonderful surprise!”
    “For you and me both,” said John.
    “Our friend, John, here, has just graduated from our little conflict crash course,” said Mac.
    “And?” Walter asked John.
    “There was a lot of crashing,” admitted John. “But it’s amazing. I can’t begin to tell you what it’s already

    done for me.”
    “Well, my boss and I are really starting to click. And things between Nancy and me have never been

    “Good. You screw things up with that pretty little lady, I’ll smack you myself,” said Walter with a wink.
    “Don’t worry,” assured John. He motioned to the chessboard between them. “You two do this often?”
    “Every Friday morning.”
    “He got tired of me kicking his butt on the golf course,” added Mac.
    Walter flashed Mac a dirty look and sat back down. “Enough out of you, Theodore.”
    “That IS your name,” exclaimed John, remembering Mabel calling him by the same name.
    “Legal name. It’s a long story,” said Mac, without looking up from the chess pieces he meticulously

    arranged in front of him.

    “Your grandfather really did have a thing for Roosevelt,” said John.
    “That’s true,” said Walter. “Should I tell him where the nickname Mac comes from?”
    “No,” said Mac, trying to hide a smile. “Walter is an old friend of my grandfather’s. I’ve basically

    known him my whole life.”
    “I taught him everything he knows,” said Walter, grinning. Then his face grew serious. “And he taught

    me everything I know. The kid knows his stuff.” The two men exchanged a look. John felt a sort of father-
    son warmth between them. Walter smacked the seat beside him. “You gonna stand there all day? Sit down.
    Get ready for the master class in chess, the game of kings.”
    “I wanted to thank you again for doing this for me,” said John sincerely as he slid his legs under the

    concrete picnic table.
    “Bah!” said Walter, swatting at John’s words as they hung in the air. “I’d do it for everyone I know if this

    joker wasn’t so busy. I have an easier time getting a table at Le Bernardin.”
    “Well, it means a lot.”
    “I know, Johnny. The fact that you actually followed through and stayed with it is all the thanks you owe

    John smiled at how poorly Walter accepted compliments.
    “Now, when you’re learning to play chess,” continued Walter, “the first thing you have to do is learn the

    different pieces and how each one moves. The bishops move diagonally as far as they want, and the rooks
    move in straight lines as far as they want. The king and queen move in any direction, but the king can go
    only one space, while the queen—”
    “I actually know how to play chess, Walter,” interrupted John.
    “Hold your horses, sport. You’ll never get the point if you don’t spend a little time sharpening. May I go

    “Please,” said John, wondering if his own Red value system could be blamed for his patience

    “Once you learn the moves,” said Walter, “it’s easy to play the game. But to master chess, now that’s

    another thing entirely. You could play this game your whole life and always find ways to improve. The
    game gets complicated because it’s not really about moving the pieces around at all; it’s about the
    relationships between the pieces and how they accomplish their objective.”
    Walter’s point started to sink in for John. He and Mac shared a look as Walter continued.
    “You have to learn to think several steps ahead, to anticipate your opponent’s moves and prevent him

    from attacking your pieces. You have to be able to identify when you are getting into trouble and to
    manage yourself out of that trouble so you can bring the game to a satisfactory resolution—winning.”
    Mac was watching John, “Anything sound familiar?”
    “Suspiciously familiar,” said John, grinning. He opened his notebook and glanced at his notes.

    “Anticipate, prevent, identify, manage, and resolve. But I thought conflict shouldn’t be about winning.”
    “Conflict shouldn’t, but life should,” said Walter.
    “Life is won when you achieve the kind of relationships and success you want for yourself,” Mac

    “I feel like I’m winning the game of life, because I’m living the life I want to live,” added Walter. “Did

    you feel that you were winning when you were struggling at work or fighting with your wife?”
    “Quite the opposite,” admitted John.
    “This chessboard,” said Mac, “is sort of like our three-color triangle. And on it, Reds, Blues, Greens,

    Hubs, and the blends are all moving in a predictable way, like the various chess pieces.”
    “When you understand people’s motives,” said Walter, “you know what they’re likely to do when things

    are going well and when they’re experiencing conflict.”
    Mac waved his hand over the black chess army in front of him, “And each piece is working together in

    a unified effort. They’re like a work team—a system of personalities working toward a common goal. I’m
    still fascinated by how people work together and how we can help people and teams become more
    “That’s interesting,” said John staring at the chess pieces. “It made me realize something else. If one

    person does something, it’s going to affect the other people on the team. Right? Sometimes it’s positive,
    but other times it’s negative. So when one person moves into conflict, you can start to anticipate how that
    might affect the other people in the group—how the conflict could spread throughout the group as they join
    in the conflict.”
    “That’s very true,” said Mac.
    “Even the way pieces move,” continued John. “Sometimes the movement of a chess piece is really

    obvious, and other times, you have to ask the other player, ‘Did you move?’ That’s really true for people
    too. Some moves to conflict are really easy to identify, and others are a little harder to notice. Does that
    make sense?”
    “He’s already building on your concepts,” said Walter to Mac.
    “I told you I’d make him into a master,” said Mac.
    John wanted to make some self-effacing comment, but the fact was, he was really feeling confident in

    the tools he had learned over the past few weeks. Perhaps master wasn’t such an exaggeration after all.

    Chapter Ten

    Good morning, Gail,” said John in a singsong voice even he didn’t recognize.
    “You’re in a good mood this morning,” she answered as she rushed through the entrance door John was

    holding open for her.
    “Yeah, well I almost had a fight with my wife last night.”
    Gail was perplexed. “That makes no sense whatsoever.”
    “Emphasis on the word almost,” said John proudly.
    “Does this have to do with the work you’re doing around conflict?”
    “It’s amazing!” said John.
    His exuberance was met with a hollow look of indifference. John smiled as he noticed the Green glow

    around her face and chose his next words. “Real commonsense stuff, but well researched and tested. I’ll
    get you some info on it.”
    “I’d be interested to see that.”
    John pushed the button to hail the elevator for them.
    “I’m assuming what you’ve learned helped you with your argument last night?” she asked.
    “Well, that’s the great thing. There wasn’t one. I was able to prevent the argument before it started.”
    The elevator doors opened, and they stepped inside joining a small group of other people already there.
    “Preventing conflict,” said John, “is about anticipating it, then actively averting it by either changing

    your perception or changing your behavior.”
    John recognized the discomfort in Gail’s eyes and smiled to himself. To Gail, the topic was clearly too

    personal for a crowded elevator. He remembered Gail admonishing him in the past for continuing
    conversations during the long ride to their floor. She was an intensely private person, a trait John figured
    fit nicely with her autonomous Green motivational values. John stopped talking; if it made Gail
    uncomfortable, news of his victory on the home front could wait.

    “You’re out of line!” boomed Randy’s voice, as John and Gail approached the meeting room.
    Through the glass walls, John could see Randy towering over the large crowd of executives seated

    around the conference table. Uh-oh, John thought. Here we go. John’s good mood evaporated as he was
    reminded of the dark cloud that had been hanging over the staff for days. People were on edge. Tempers
    had been flaring—all because of a rumor that the mysterious, dreaded Philip Keyes was in town.
    As John entered the room, he could feel instantly that he was entering the epicenter of conflict at Starr

    Industries. He fought off the urge to turn and walk out. This room was to be his prison for the next two
    days, as the annual show-and-tell with the vice president was about to kick off. It was the key sales
    meeting of the year, and all five regional sales directors and all forty sales managers were required to
    attend. It appeared that everyone was already here, so Randy had an ample audience for his outburst.
    “Just calm down,” said Leslie, crossing her arms and glaring.
    “Calm down? You’re screwing with our livelihoods,” yelled Randy. “Did you know about this, John?”

    he asked as he saw John enter the room.
    The last thing John needed was to be the center of attention during a Randy-sized flare-up. Not here. Not

    today. The signs of conflict were everywhere. Blake leaned back in his chair as though he hoped he could

    dissolve. Michelle Zapato, the VP of sales, had turned bright pink. One man John didn’t recognize pulled
    his collar away from his neck with his left hand and fanned himself with his right. There were throats
    being cleared, breaths being swallowed. John thought of the chessboard. Randy had made a move, and it
    clearly affected the other players’ next moves.
    “Well?” Randy was still waiting for a reply.
    “Can this wait for after—” John pleaded.
    “No, it can’t wait,” interrupted Randy. “We’re getting thrown under the bus!”
    “I don’t even know what we’re talking about,” returned John. “Let’s table this for a more appropriate—”
    “Don’t you bail out on me, man,” Randy shot back. “This is exactly the appropriate place. We’re here to

    talk about sales. And Leslie’s doing her best to stomp on our numbers.”
    John was trapped in the middle of two firmly entrenched forces, and he had no idea what the battle was

    even about—and didn’t want to know. He took a few steps back. John knew he was withdrawing into
    Green conflict, and it was only serving to stoke the fire within Randy. John needed to throw himself a
    rope and pull out of it.
    “Okay, Randy. This is clearly important for you to discuss. But you gotta clue me in. I just walked in the

    Randy’s shoulders settled slightly. “The Centauri launch. She’s canning the campaign.”
    The news hit John in the gut. “What?”
    “I know, right?” said Randy. “There’s absolutely no good reason to cancel that campaign. I’ve got

    preorders on seven customers’ desks just waiting for the official launch.”
    John himself had preorders from at least two customers, maybe three. He felt a flash of envy on hearing

    of Randy’s seven. Impressive. Cancellation of the campaign would mean a lot of creative and unpleasant
    storytelling—or worse, customer complaints about unfulfilled orders for a product they weren’t even
    supposed to know about. John looked over at Leslie, who seemed to be waiting for John’s reaction with
    bated breath.
    “That’s not good,” said John, once again fighting the urge to disappear.
    “Great. So you’re gonna jump on the bandwagon and blame me for blocking your pipeline too?” said

    Leslie. “Why are you two even talking about Centauri with customers?”
    Not only was John deep into conflict, he was fast approaching his second-stage Red.
    “You knew damn well that Centauri was getting binned,” Leslie asserted.
    John’s mind was racing. Could Leslie be right? Was this more than just a marketing delay? Was Centauri

    being cancelled completely? He needed to call his customers. He needed to locate some kind of e-mail or
    memo that could be interpreted as permission to presell the product.
    “You two actually took orders for it?” asked Gail, joining the fray.
    John was suddenly very aware that he and Randy were the only ones standing in a room of fifty people.

    Second-stage Red in this setting could wind up being corporate suicide. With a deep breath, John
    collected himself. While actual orders before the launch were clearly against the rule book, there was a
    longstanding and widespread practice of letting top clients “preorder.” He calmly looked over at Randy
    —his nose flaring, the imaginary Red glow beating with intensity.
    “Randy, I don’t think you were the only one in here caught off-guard. We saw a great opportunity, and

    we went after it. It’s what makes you great at what you do.”
    John glanced at Michelle, the vice president, and continued, “Ultimately we need to do what’s right for

    the customer and deal with whatever the decision is regarding Centauri.”

    “I want to know now,” Randy demanded.
    “It’s not the time, Randy. I believe this meeting already has an agenda,” said John, “and we should

    respect that. And respect the people in this room—many of whom traveled a good distance to be here.”
    He looked Randy in the eyes, “Can we address this after?”
    Randy was already sitting down. “Sure. As long as we do it soon.”
    John turned to Gail. “I think there may be a lack of clarity in our new-product procedures. Perhaps you

    can be a part of that discussion, Gail?”
    “I would be glad to,” replied Gail, uncrossing her arms.
    John looked at Leslie. “You good with that? Group up after the meeting today?”
    “That works,” she said.
    John’s eyes found Michelle again. Her face was returning to a normal color, and her fidgeting had

    subsided. He guessed she had found herself in Blue conflict, though she hadn’t said a word. John thought
    about how to create a comfortable hand-off as he found the last open chair and took a seat.
    “My apologies, Michelle. I know this probably wasn’t the opener you had in mind. We sometimes like

    to improv a little.”
    She and a few others in the room chuckled. It was more of a pressure release than a genuine laugh, but it

    seemed to serve its purpose.
    “No problem,” said Michelle, now standing up.
    “Yeah, things have just been a little tense around here lately,” said Randy, with a glint of embarrassment

    flashing in his eyes.
    John wondered if Randy meant that as an apology.
    “Well then,” said Michelle, “let’s share a little good news, shall we?” Her voice was bright and cheery

    as she attempted to sweep away the tension from the room.
    John smiled, awash with pride. It had been a brutal, public display of conflict, and he had somehow

    managed to wrestle control of his own feelings. He had also been able to guide Randy and everyone else
    involved back to a more productive place. He glanced over at Gail, who offered an approving nod.
    It was an exciting win for him. His mind wandered as Michelle droned on about revenue and

    projections. The graph on the slide clearly showed Starr’s sales success—just slightly ahead of target.
    Out of the corner of his eye, John saw someone enter the room. But it was the pause in Michelle’s

    speech that most piqued his curiosity. John tried to make out the dark figure standing at the back of the
    room, but the light from the projector obscured his view.
    “Welcome,” said Michelle. “I’m glad you could join us, Mr. Keyes.”
    Everyone seemed to turn at once. There he was. The infamous Philip Keyes. John leaned over, trying to

    actually see the man’s face.
    “Proceed,” said Keyes. “I’m only here to observe.”
    John’s mind raced again: Did the VP know that Keyes was coming? If Keyes was expected, why wasn’t

    it on the agenda? Was this an intentional ambush? What was going on?
    Michelle continued her uplifting presentation with a degree of awkwardness and formality that wasn’t

    there before. Even the VPs are scared of this guy, John thought to himself. She went on and on about
    exceeding sales targets and cited several examples of Starr’s best clients. She was in the middle of a
    gushing review of Starr’s performance in the Midwest when Keyes finally interrupted.
    “Okay, got it. But what problems are you experiencing?”
    The question was met with total silence. He stepped forward and repeated the question. “What

    problems are you experiencing?”
    Michelle looked at the screen as if the answer might be hidden there. Keyes surveyed the room full of

    executives. They avoided his eye like a group of unprepared students praying not to be called on.
    The only problem John was experiencing was how to turn invisible in this meeting.
    “Incredible,” said Keyes, sharply. He placed his fists knuckles down on the table and leaned in. “You

    may be 5 percent above your top-line revenue goal—Bravo! But you people aren’t even halfway to profit
    expectations. You know what that is? Unsustainable.”
    Keyes started pacing again. “What’s going on in this department? Employee turnover is trending up.

    We’re losing good people around here almost every day. And nobody has any problems?”
    “Well, I have a problem!” continued Keyes. “I have a problem with contracts that lose money—adding

    only to revenue targets that create income for salespeople but result in impossible demands for other
    support people at Starr.” He was pacing now. Keyes reminded John of a lawyer addressing a jury with a
    well-rehearsed closing argument. “I have a problem with contracts like this.” And he reached into the
    breast pocket of his tailored jacket and produced some folded papers. The crowd watched with fearful
    anticipation as Keyes slowly unfolded them.
    “I have a problem with people who sign contracts like this one with EagleMark Enterprises. It’s

    resource-wasting contracts like this that make me wonder what’s really going on around here.”
    He turned to the last page of the contract and read the signature. “My problem is with Gail R.

    The tension in the room was palpable. Keyes followed everyone’s eyes to the target of his rage, and he

    saw Gail’s own eyes were wide open and full of fear.
    “And you must be her,” said Keyes, coldly.
    Gail remained quiet as Keyes proceeded to recite the flaws of the EagleMark deal. His voice echoed in

    the background, as John felt himself plummet deeper into Green conflict. John knew he was the main
    reason for the EagleMark fiasco. He had started it and persuaded others that it was a good idea. It really
    did seem like a good idea at the time. John had recognized the potential right away, and it was still there,
    just waiting to pop. Gail had initially resisted the whole deal but finally signed it—succumbing to John’s
    relentless badgering and overt confidence. Now she was being publicly berated for it.
    If there was going to be a fall guy, it should be John. He knew he needed to step up. His conflict smoke

    alarm was screeching in his head, and stage 2 Red was not far behind. He wished an actual fire alarm
    would go off; he would give anything for just five minutes to think. It was time for action. But what
    action? Keyes was clearly showing signs of Red conflict. But where was his motivational value system?
    John yanked himself back to the situation and listened for Keyes’s word choice—looking for clues to his
    location on the triangle.
    Keyes held an impressive command of the details surrounding the EagleMark situation: the support staff

    being taken advantage of, the charges for customized packaging, the unforeseen waste, the administrative
    staff’s resentment of the salespeople for getting paid on revenue targets—while they were left dealing
    with onerous compliance and unfamiliar government reporting requirements.
    John hurriedly began collecting in his head the reasons he was hearing. Unsustainable…employee

    turnover…people being taken advantage of…waste and poor planning…burden on staff…resentment
    from staff. John sat up as it hit him. These were Blue and Green reasons—Cautious-Supporting reasons.
    Heads turned his way as John stood up from his chair.
    “Sir, I convinced Gail to sign that contract.”

    Keyes slowly turned his attention on him, his eyes burning with disdain.
    “And you are…?”
    “John Doyle, sir.”
    John’s heart pounded like a bass drum. Keyes’s threatening stare melted John’s confidence. He felt his

    knees wobble and was about to return to his chair when he began to visualize the glow—bright Blue and
    Green lights emanating from behind Keyes’s head like the spotlights on Mac’s stage. The imagery
    strengthened John’s resolve.
    “You’re correct about that contract in every way,” said John. “I’m not proud of it.”
    “Nor should you be,” said Keyes as he tossed the contract onto the table and walked away. John began

    to panic.
    “I’m still confident that I can make that account profitable, Mr. Keyes,” said John with manufactured

    Keyes scoffed at the comment but didn’t turn back. Too Red, Doyle! John scolded himself. Blue-Green,

    Blue-Green, Blue-Green.
    “And frankly, sir,” continued John, “it was an important learning experience for us—for me. I’ve been

    taking steps…going through a process to improve the way Gail and I communicate and make decisions.”
    Keyes stopped and turned. John plowed ahead.
    “It’s helping us to more fully consider each opportunity and any related risks, so we don’t make

    promises to customers that we can’t keep—or that would be cost prohibitive to keep.” John motioned to
    Gail, “It’s also helping the relationship between us.”
    Keyes let the silence simmer as he considered what he was hearing.
    John felt compelled to fill the void. “I’m not proud of what happened on the EagleMark deal so far, but

    I’m proud of the work we’ve done together to make sure we don’t repeat it.”
    Keyes looked at Gail. She offered a confirming nod.
    “Doyle, Townsend, walk with me,” commanded Keyes, as he pushed through the door into the hall. Gail

    and John shared a terrified look as the meeting room door closed behind him with a sharp clank.

    They found Keyes waiting for an elevator in the lobby. John didn’t know what to expect. His limbs felt

    numb, and his head was swimming. Was he about to lose his job? As he often did, John felt compelled to
    fill the silence—this time with a Blue-Green translation of his earlier Red outburst.
    “Mr. Keyes, it’s my personal mission to salvage that contract and bring in the revenue to justify the

    sacrifices that the people in this company have made to—”
    “Okay, Doyle,” said Keyes with the hint of a smile. “Stand down.” The intensity was gone from his

    “Sorry,” said John, a little embarrassed.
    “You took a stand in there, Doyle. I can respect that.”
    “Thank you, sir.”
    “Are you really committed to honoring the sacrifices that the good people at this company are making?”
    “And I assume you have a plan for this?”
    “We do, yes,” said John.
    Keyes studied him closely.
    “I hope so. I’ll be watching this account—and you—with interest. Mistakes are going to happen, John.

    Believe me. I’ve made some eight-figure mistakes myself. The key is always to grow from it—learn from
    “Absolutely, sir,” said Gail.
    They were both surprised to hear Gail’s voice. Welcome back, thought John to himself.
    Keyes shook John’s hand and looked him squarely in the eye. “A hero of mine once said, ‘The ultimate

    measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at
    times of challenge and controversy.’ ”
    “Who said that, sir?” asked John.
    The elevator chimed, and Keyes stepped inside.
    “Martin Luther King Jr.”

    Gail closed the door to John’s office as John put his phone on “do not disturb” mode. He started to pace;

    sitting didn’t feel like an option. He was still feeling numb—and maybe a little too excited to sit just yet.
    “Should we get back to the meeting?” asked Gail.
    “Let ‘em wonder a little longer,” said John with a big smile.
    “John, I’m really impressed,” said Gail, sincerely, “and grateful. I’m not sure what I just witnessed there

    —hypnosis or mind reading.”
    “Listening, mostly,” said John.
    “No, that was me. I just sat and stared like a fool.”
    “You fell into conflict is all. I did too, but I yanked myself back out. He’s a pretty intimidating guy.”
    Gail settled into one of John’s guest chairs. “You can say that again.”
    “All I did was appeal to what seemed to be important to him.”
    “What I heard—beneath all that anger—was a man who was all about fairness and people.”
    “I could see that, I guess. Toward the end,” said Gail. “But when did you figure it out?”
    “Well, it helps to know what to listen for,” said John. “When he was talking about those problems in the

    meeting, he was in conflict—aggressive and challenging. But the reasons he was in conflict had to do with
    people being taken advantage of or wastefulness and poor planning. So I guessed that his assertive
    conflict response had been triggered by violations of cautious and supporting values.”
    “Hmm. But how did you know what to say?”
    “Once I figured out what mattered to him, I just found a way of telling the truth in a way that was

    respectful of his values.”
    Gail nodded slowly, absorbing every word carefully.
    “It’s about finding out what’s important to people, respecting it, and then using the right skills to address

    the person’s needs—even before you present what’s important to you. If you can do that, you’re better
    positioned to find good solutions that resolve the conflict and help both parties to feel good about
    “All I can say is,” said Gail, “if you can master the approach you’ve just described, I think you’ll have

    no problem going places in this company. And if EagleMark actually comes through for us, even better.”
    “I think a lot of things are going to be better.” John smiled.
    He had finally calmed down enough to sit. It was hard to believe it had only been a few weeks since he

    had sat in this same chair feeling the walls crashing down around him. The events of the day when he was
    denied promotion had shaken him to the core. The confidence that was so important to his self-worth had

    been stripped bare, and he found himself questioning his very identity.
    As John sat, sharing a friendly, victorious moment with his one-time foe, Gail, he recognized that the

    worst day of his career had really been the best. It had been the punch he needed to knock him out of his
    unproductive ways and into action that was sure to take him to a much better place. His goals suddenly
    seemed attainable again. In fact, maybe those outdated goals were too attainable. But even more fulfilling,
    John found an unexpected strength and excitement in his new attitude toward his relationships. People
    were no longer obstacles in the way of his goals; they were partners that made the journey more

    Letter from John

    Starr: Industries

    Hi, Theodore 😉
    It may sound odd, but I was thinking about you last week, as Nancy and I celebrated our 15th wedding

    anniversary in Italy. It was an amazing trip, and our relationship feels stronger than ever. We truly feel we
    have you to thank for that. My greater sense of awareness has helped me to recognize when I’m moving
    into conflict, and I’m able to articulate my feelings to Nancy without pulling away. She appreciates my
    willingness to let her into my world and help me sort through it all.
    Thanks again for setting Nancy up with her own assessments. The information has been invaluable to

    our relationship. We’re having some great conversations again—much like when we were dating. Not to
    say there isn’t still conflict in our marriage. Nancy’s consulting work has really taken off, and our lives are
    as busy as ever. Those Red and Blue filters definitely get in the way from time-to-time. But I’m getting
    much better at not accepting every invitation to conflict, and I’m finally recognizing Nancy’s more subtle
    conflict triggers. When things do get heated between us, I’ve started asking her why the issue is so
    important to her. Just hearing her answer allows me to borrow an effective behavior more quickly. You’ll
    be glad to know I’m reaching down into those middle and lower drawers of my toolbox much more
    frequently, and it’s amazing how much more civil and productive our conversations are now. Nancy’s
    using this approach as well. It’s like we’ve learned a new language.
    Hard to believe it’s almost been a year since our last appointment. So much has happened in my life…

    The big one you might be curious about is that elusive promotion at Starr Industries. Well, I guess third
    time’s a charm. I’m a regional director! …which basically means I super-sized my team and my area of
    responsibility. I’m really enjoying the new role and the people I’m working with. I love the challenges and
    have developed some solid relationships right away.
    My rise to regional director also makes Gail and me peers. I’ve truly come to appreciate her thoughtful

    approach and often use her as a sounding board for new ideas. Believe it or not, she even asked me
    recently to turn one of her notoriously verbose presentations into ten bullet points for her.
    I’m also Randy’s boss now. It was pretty awkward at first, and some of our jokes got a little too

    personal. We had one ugly blowout, which really revealed how a conflict between two people can bring
    down a whole team. But I was able to resolve it with an apology to the team and a heart-to-heart with
    Randy. We’re on excellent terms again and only trade insults after hours. And as far as the team as a
    whole, we might actually be stronger, now that we’ve been in the foxhole together and survived.
    I hope you’re doing well, and for the sake of the world, I hope you’re still busy as ever.

    John Doyle
    Regional Director of Sales

    John’s Notebook

    A Summary of Learning

    Dr. Mac’s Statement of Philosophy

    A Philosophical Approach to Learning as Written from the
    Perspective of Dr. Mac Wilson

    Character Assessment Results

    SDI Assessment Results for the Characters Featuredin
    John’s Story

    The personalities of the fictional characters presented in this book are consistent with the personality
    descriptions presented in the SDI® (Strength Deployment Inventory®). There are seven Motivational Value
    Systems, derived from various combinations of three primary drives in relationships. Your Motivational
    Value System acts as an internal filter through which you interpret and understand life. It is a unifying set
    of values for choosing behavior that enhances your sense of self-worth. What follows are more detailed
    descriptions of each Motivational Value System as described in Dr. Elias H. Porter’s theory of
    Relationship Awareness.® [Porter, E. H. (1976). On the Development of Relationship Awareness Theory:
    a Personal Note. Group Organization Management, 1(3), 302–309.]

    The 7 Motivational Value Systems

    Main Characters
    The fictional SDI results of our four main characters (John, Mac, Gail, and Nancy) served as a guide for
    describing their motives, behaviors and perceptions when things were going well, and during conflict.

    Individuals who complete an SDI receive their results in the form of arrows on the interaction triangle.
    The dots represent the Motivational Value Systems, while the arrowheads represent the Conflict

    Conflict Sequence
    The Conflict Sequence describes internal changes in feelings and motives in response to perceived
    threats. While people most frequently use behavior that looks very similar to the way they are feeling,
    other behavior choices are always available.

    Internal Experience in Conflict

    Observable Behavior in Conflict

    Summary of Character SDI Results

    Supporting Characters
    Below are the fictional SDI results for some of our supporting characters. The triangle is a useful tool for
    quickly identifying where people are coming from and anticipating what might trigger conflict between

    The Strength Deployment Inventory was developed to help people access, understand, and make
    practical use of Relationship Awareness Theory. When you complete the SDI, you learn about the values
    that underlie your behaviors in two types of conditions: when all is going well, and when things are in
    conflict. With this knowledge, you will better understand yourself and the people in your life.
    For more information on the SDI and other Relationship Awareness assessments or to find your regional

    distributor, please visit For more information on the Have a Nice Conflict
    learning experience, please visit:

    • Praise for Have a Nice Conflict
    • Title Page
    • Copyright

    • About the Authors
    • Introduction

    • Chapter One
    • Chapter Two
    • Chapter Three
    • Chapter Four
    • Chapter Five
    • Chapter Six
    • Chapter Seven
    • Chapter Eight
    • Chapter Nine
    • Chapter Ten
    • Letter from John
    • Starr: Industries

    • John’s Notebook
    • Dr. Mac’s Statement of Philosophy: A Philosophical Approach to Learning as Written from the Perspective of Dr. Mac Wilson
    • Character Assessment Results
    • The 7 Motivational Value Systems
      Main Characters
      Conflict Sequence
      Summary of Character SDI Results
      Supporting Characters

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