Negotiation Doesn't Have to Be a Zero-Sum Game
There are other ways of negotiating that can actually get people more of what they want in their interactions.
Daniel Shapiro, Ph.D., is a world-renowned expert on negotiation and conflict resolution. He founded and directs the Harvard International Negotiation Program, which has pioneered innovative strategies and teaching methodologies to address the human dimensions of conflict resolution. Dr. Shapiro also is an associate professor in psychology at Harvard Medical School/McLean Hospital and affiliated faculty at Harvard Law School’s Program on Negotiation, where he serves as the associate director of the Harvard Negotiation Project. For three years, he chaired the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Conflict Prevention.
He has launched back-channel negotiations to help revitalize formal peace negotiations in a major Middle East conflict, and regularly conducts negotiation trainings for government leaders around the world—including Middle East negotiators, Chinese officials, Serbian members of parliament, and senior U.S. officials. Through nonprofit funding, he developed a conflict management program that now reaches one million youth across more than thirty countries.
He has appeared on dozens of radio and television shows and has contributed to The New York Times, O, The Oprah Magazine, and other popular publications. Dr. Shapiro is the recipient of numerous awards, including the American Psychological Association’s Early Career Award and the Cloke-Millen Peacemaker of the Year Award. The World Economic Forum named him a “Young Global Leader.” In his spare time, he plays blues guitar and enjoys playing baseball with his three sports-loving sons.
Universally, it seems like one of the mistaken assumptions of negotiation is that negotiation equals a win/lose game. An adversarial game. It’s me versus you, and this mindset is reinforced by the way governments sometimes work, the way our media portrays conflict, the way we often learn conflict and dealing with conflict in the family.
It’s seen as a zero-sum concept. The more for me, the less for you; the more for you, the less for me. And this assumption I have found has been engrained across the continents. It’s one of the few things, other than music, that is perhaps universal. And it’s fine. I mean, this way of thinking about negotiation is incredibly important; it’s useful, but it’s not always useful. And there are other ways of negotiating that can actually get people more of what they want in their interactions.
In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.
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