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Unformatted text preview: Praise for Daniel Shapiro’s Negotiating the Nonnegotiable
“Dan Shapiro has written a masterpiece—clear, insightful, and practical—about the most difficult
and emotionally charged of negotiations: those that revolve around identity. Highly recommended!”
—William Ury, coauthor of Getting to Yes and author of Getting to Yes with Yourself
“Daniel Shapiro’s Negotiating the Nonnegotiable is a modern masterpiece. Bold and compelling
from the first page, he shines a light on the dark divisive forces of conflict while describing pathways
toward peace and harmony through the power of reconciliation and affiliation. It is the ultimate proof
that addressing conflict requires a courageous head as much as a collaborative heart. Every leader
should read it and live by it.”
—Katherine Garrett-Cox, CEO, Alliance Trust Investments
“Negotiating the Nonnegotiable is one of the most important books of our modern era. Dan Shapiro
gives us a whole new set of tools to tackle our toughest disputes—those that threaten our identity.
This brilliant book is innovative, practical, and exactly what we need in today’s world.”
—Jaime de Bourbon de Parme, Ambassador of the Netherlands to the Holy See
“Negotiating the Nonnegotiable is a fascinating read that gets to the core of all kinds of conflicts.
Daniel Shapiro draws on his lifetime’s work to examine processes that lead from discord to harmony
and from war to peace. His book is a gripping account of how people of every persuasion can come
together and find a new beginning. Anyone with an interest in the work of reconciliation, peace
building, and conflict resolution should read this book.”
—Bertie Ahern, Former Prime Minister of Ireland 1997–2008; conegotiator of the Good Friday
“As Commander of the NYPD Hostage Negotiation Team for over fourteen years, I have been
involved in many dangerous nonnegotiable negotiations, where a tactical resolution often had to be
realized. In Negotiating the Nonnegotiable, Dan Shapiro unlocks the strategies to reconcile strained
relationships and find the hidden possibilities for resolution. An extraordinary book that will change
—Lt. Jack Cambria, Commanding Officer NYPD Hostage Negotiation Team (Retired)
“Dan Shapiro has written a book that is at once both profound and practical, heartfelt and hopeful. At
a time when one of our world’s most alarming fault lines is the growing polarization between
individuals and groups—divided by race, ethnicity, politics, religion, or class—immersion in his
wisdom is a must for anyone trying to prevent or resolve these conflicts.”
—Matthew Bishop, senior editor of The Economist Group; cofounder of the Social Progress
“No one has thought more deeply and creatively about the impact of emotions on conflict than Dan
Shapiro. In Negotiating the Nonnegotiable, Dan draws on that depth of knowledge to develop a
workable method that enables us to deal effectively with emotional conflicts that all too often seem
nonnegotiable.” —Jeswald W. Salacuse, Henry J. Braker Professor, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy,
Tufts University; author of Negotiating Life
“A wise book—full of experience, heart, and intelligence—it will give every reader insights to
consider and plans to enact. We can hope that no conflict is intractable, thanks to this book. And it
has great stories.”
—Susan T. Fiske, Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology and Professor of Public Affairs,
“What a powerful book! Negotiating the Nonnegotiable is both entertaining and deeply enriching,
with a comprehensive content and a diversity of examples from daily life and global contexts. I wish
I would have known much earlier in life about the ideas in this book, including my vertigo syndrome!
Shapiro provides us with a fabulous invitation to consistently trade disharmony for harmony.”
—Alain Robert, Vice Chairman, UBS Wealth Management
“This fascinating book tells us a lot about the role of identity in international conflicts and how to
bridge the divide. It expands our understanding of the political reconciliation in the international
—Professor Yan Xuetong, Dean of the Institute of Modern International Relations, Tsinghua
“Welcome to Negotiation 3.0! Dan Shapiro gives us new eyes through which to understand even the
most difficult negotiations—and a powerful new tool kit to overcome them. Negotiators from both
my own country of Japan and from around the world will be inspired by this important new text and
will benefit immensely from it.”
—Jiro Tamura, Professor of Law, Keio University, President, Negotia Club (Japan)
“In Negotiating the Nonnegotiable, part manual and part memoir, Dan Shapiro offers insight into
negotiation and identity culled from an extraordinary career working on critical conflicts around the
world. Negotiating the Nonnegotiable is sure to be required reading for diplomats and peace builders
alike seeking more effective practice and a broader toolbox for solving seemingly intractable
—Nancy Lindborg, President, United States Institute of Peace VIKING
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Copyright © 2016 by Daniel L. Shapiro
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Here: “Drawing Hands” by M. C. Escher. Used by permission of The M. C. Escher Company
EXPORT EDITION ISBN 9780399564406
Version_1 To Mia,
Noah, Zachary, Liam,
Mom & Dad, Maddie & Mike, Steve & Shira,
Margaret, Betsy & Peter, and Susan,
for teaching me about
life’s one nonnegotiable: love. The Challenge
EVERY GENERATION OF HUMANKIND BELIEVES THEY ARE
MORE EVOLVED, MORE SOPHISTICATED, MORE “MODERN”
THAN THOSE WHO CAME BEFORE THEM.
YET NO MATTER HOW FAST SOCIETY ADVANCES,
PEOPLE IN CONFLICT ARE, AND ALWAYS WILL BE, HUMAN.
THE CHALLENGE IS HOW TO BRIDGE THE DIVIDE WHEN
OUR MOST FUNDAMENTAL VALUES ARE ON THE LINE.
HOW DO WE
NEGOTIATE THE NONNEGOTIABLE? Contents
Praise for Daniel Shapiro’s Negotiating the Nonnegotiable
Introduction: Why This Book?
Section 1 The Tribes Effect
1 The Hidden Power of Identity 2 The Dual Nature of Identity 3 A Way Forward Section 2 The Five Lures of the Tribal Mind
4 Vertigo 5 Repetition Compulsion 6 Taboos 7 Assault on the Sacred 8 Identity Politics Section 3 Bridging the Divide
9 Integrative Dynamics—a Four-Step Method 10 Uncover Your Mythos of Identity 11 Work Through Emotional Pain 12 Build Crosscutting Connections 13 Reconfigure the Relationship Section 4 Reconciling Irreconcilable Differences
14 Managing Dialectics 15 Fostering the Spirit of Reconciliation Acknowledgments
About the Author Introduction: Why This Book?
Negotiating the Nonnegotiable introduces a new paradigm for resolving
conflict—one that speaks as much to the heart as to the head. Just as
scientists have discovered the inner workings of the physical world, my
research in the field of conflict resolution has revealed emotional forces that
drive people to conflict. These forces are invisible to the eye, yet their
impact is deeply felt: They can tear apart the closest friendship, break up a
marriage, destroy a business, and fuel sectarian violence. Unless we learn to
counteract such forces, we will tend to engage repeatedly in the same
frustrating conflicts, with the same frustrating results. This book provides
the necessary tools to overcome these dynamics and foster cooperative
relations, turning the most emotionally charged conflict into an opportunity
for mutual benefit.
The need for a new paradigm struck me twenty-five years ago in a
café in the splintering state of Yugoslavia. I had just facilitated a weeklong
workshop on conflict resolution for teenage refugees—Serbs, Bosnian
Muslims, and Croats—and several of us were now discussing the
differences between life in Yugoslavia and in the United States. The sound
of gunfire still echoed in the minds of these teenagers, but here we were, in
the eye of a hurricane, drinking Turkish coffee and talking about soccer and
who in our workshop had a crush on whom. Among us was long-haired,
blue-eyed, seventeen-year-old Veronica, who stared straight ahead with
unnerving intensity. She had said little throughout our workshop, so I was
surprised when, during a pause in the chatter, she suddenly spoke.
“It happened nine months ago,” she began, her gaze fixed on her plate.
“My boyfriend and I were having lunch at his house. There was a knock at
the door. Three men with guns entered.” She glanced up for a moment,
unsure whether to continue. “They pushed my boyfriend against the wall.
He pushed back, but they fought harder. I tried to scream. But nothing came
out. I wanted to run for help. To do something. But I froze.” Now her already monotonic voice flattened even further, and her eyes
“They grabbed my shoulders, pinned me down, and held his head in
front of mine. I saw the fear in his eyes. He shook to get free, but they held
She paused again and then said, “One of them took out a knife, and I
watched as they slit his throat.”
The noise of the café fell away. I looked at her, stunned, feeling as
though I had been pinned to my chair. I wanted to comfort her, to support
her in some way, but I didn’t know what to say. And then, just as suddenly
as Veronica had awakened to this moment of horror, she fell quiet.
My colleagues and I had only one more night in Yugoslavia; at dawn
we would catch a train to Budapest. I was sad to leave the workshop
participants, of whom I had grown deeply fond and who, in this nightmarish
war zone, had entrusted us with their secrets. But more than sadness, I felt
guilt: I would be returning to the comfort and security of the United States,
while they would remain in despair.
As our car approached the train station early the next morning, my
heart jumped. All twenty-four teenagers from our workshop were standing
by the track, waving. Veronica was among them. She walked over to say
“Don’t be like all the others who come to help,” she said. “Don’t say
you will remember us and then forget.”
I gave her my word. The Missing Piece
What drives humans to engage in destructive conflict? Are we
psychologically predisposed to repeat the same dynamics again and again—
despite the often calamitous results? And how can we resolve emotionally
charged conflicts when our most cherished beliefs and values are at stake?
These are the vital questions at the heart of my work.
While you may never find yourself in a situation as dire as Veronica’s,
you cannot avoid emotionally charged conflicts. They are part of what it
means to be human. You may resent your romantic partner, hold a grudge against a colleague, or despair at deteriorating ethnic relations. The chart
below illuminates some of the innumerable circumstances in which these
conflicts crop up.
Illustrative Examples of Emotionally Charged Conflicts
A couple wrestles over the values that should govern their shared life together. How do they
negotiate divergent perspectives on finances, household roles, and politics?
Parents guard against any of their children marrying outside the family religion, class, or
ethnicity. Any child remotely exploring that option will be rejected.
A work team divides along cultural lines and experiences internal tension over who should
lead the team. Each side distrusts the other, talks about the other behind closed doors, and
produces dismal results.
Senior corporate leaders are deadlocked on the issue of budget allocation, split over the
values that should represent their company. Should they prioritize short-term profit? Longterm reputation? Community service?
A neighborhood is rocked by a local controversy that divides residents along racial or ethnic
lines. Most people on one side refuse to speak to those on the other side, and there is the
unspoken fear of escalating violence.
A community sees itself being swallowed up by a larger “global culture” threatening its local
customs and values.
Members of a political group come to view competition for resources as a quest to define
their collective identity; they take up arms to fight for their rights.
A nation faces a values-laden debate over the erosion of national identity amid an influx of
foreign cultural, religious, and secular influences. You cannot resolve such conflicts unless you address them at the root
—which stretches beneath rationality, beneath even emotions, to the heart
of who you are: your identity. By default, disputants tend to define their
identities in opposition to one another: It is me versus you, us versus them.
We point fingers, assign blame, insist, “This is your fault.” But this clash of
identities only escalates conflict. A better approach is to collaboratively
problem solve differences: to uncover each person’s interests and commit to
an agreement that works for both sides. Yet in an emotionally charged
conflict, from a marital dispute to a clash between nations, collaborative
problem solving often proves insufficient. Why?
First, you cannot solve emotions. Ridding yourself of anger or
humiliation is a very different matter than solving a math problem.
Emotions are idiosyncratic; no mathematical equation can tell you with
certainty how the other side will react. Apologizing to your spouse may
backfire today, but work wonders tomorrow. Second, even if you rationally want to repair relations—with your
spouse, with your boss—emotional impulses often goad you to continue to
fight. In an emotionally charged conflict, something within blocks you from
cooperative problem solving: a knot of resentment, an intuition that the
other side is out to get you, a voice that whispers, Don’t trust them. Whether
you are in conflict with someone you love or someone you hate, an inner
urge to resist cooperation can get in the way of resolution.
Finally, you cannot simply adopt the other side’s beliefs as yours. In a
heated conflict, your identity is on the line, but it is not a commodity you
can trade away; what you believe is what you believe.
So how do you resolve emotionally charged conflicts?
I have spent decades investigating that very question—and have made
some important discoveries along the way. This book is the result. Written
here in Cambridge and at night in cafés during my research travels around
the world—from Cairo to São Paulo, Zurich to Dar es Salaam, Sydney to
Tianjin, Tokyo to New Delhi—Negotiating the Nonnegotiable began with
the realization that emotionally charged conflicts may feel nonnegotiable,
but can be resolved. And it was born of the conviction that no one need
suffer the agony that Veronica endured. The Method
I have developed a practical method to bridge the toughest emotional
divides. This method leverages a unique feature of conflict that has been
consistently overlooked: the space between sides. We typically view
conflict as a binary concept—me versus you, us versus them—and focus on
satisfying our independent interests. But conflict literally exists between us
—in our relationship—and in that space live complicated emotional
dynamics that thwart cooperation. Learning how to transform an
emotionally charged conflict into an opportunity for mutual benefit requires
that you learn how to effectively navigate this space.
My goal has been to decode the space between disputants and to
design processes to help them work through intransigent emotions, divisive
dynamics, and clashing beliefs. The result is the method that I call
Relational Identity Theory, which features practical steps that produce dynamic effects, much as the few simple actions necessary to light a pile of
wood produce the dynamic effect of fire.
The single greatest barrier to conflict resolution is what I call the
Tribes Effect, a divisive mindset that casts you and the other side as
inevitable adversaries. As long as you are trapped in this mindset, you will
be trapped in conflict. The way out is to counteract the five hidden forces
that draw you toward this outlook—the Five Lures of the Tribal Mind—and
to cultivate positive relations via the process of integrative dynamics. In the
course of doing so, you will confront unavoidable tensions—relational
dialectics—that threaten to make your conflict feel like a no-win
proposition. This book will show you how to find your way past these
apparently nonnegotiable obstacles.
To arrive at this method, I have conducted laboratory experiments,
reviewed thousands of research articles, consulted for political and business
leadership, advised struggling families and couples, and interviewed
hundreds of experts ranging from political negotiators to citizen activists,
heads of state to business executives. I also founded and direct the Harvard
International Negotiation Program, which serves as a research and
educational base for investigating the emotional and identity-based roots of
These experiences have taught me a lot, and in Negotiating the
Nonnegotiable I share these insights with you. While this book is designed
to help you resolve your most fraught disagreements, it is also my attempt
to honor my word. I wish to honor Veronica, the other twenty-three youths
from our workshop, and all those people around the world, on whatever
side of a given conflict, who suffer in the name of identity. I believe there is
a better way. I believe there must be.
This book is a testament to that vision.
Daniel L. Shapiro
CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS Section 1 The Tribes Effect 1
The Hidden Power of Identity
The world exploded at Davos. It happened several years ago at the World
Economic Forum’s annual summit in the snow-capped mountains of
Switzerland. I had convened a meeting of forty-five world leaders in a small
room tucked away from the eyes and ears of the reporting press. These
leaders had negotiated some of the world’s most challenging conflicts, but
none were prepared for what would happen next—a negotiation of the
strangest kind that would reach beyond the halls of that summit to the
epicenter of all our lives.
It all started innocently enough. As the leaders streamed into the room,
a young staffer handed each of them a colored scarf and escorted them to
one of six tables. I watched as the CEO of a Fortune 50 company made his
way to his seat, followed by a deputy head of state, who greeted the CEO
with a diplomatic nod. A prominent university president settled next to a
security expert, while at a neighboring table an artist chatted with a
professor. Soft music played in the background, and the mood was light.
As the clock struck one, the music quieted and I stepped to the center
of the room. “Welcome,” I said a bit nervously, taking stock of this
esteemed group, who looked at me in anticipation. “It is an honor to be here
with all of you today.”
As the word “tribes” appeared on a screen behind me, I launched into
the session. “Our world is becoming more and more of a tribal world. As
global interdependence and advances in technology intertwine, we have
more opportunity to connect with more people. Yet this very thread of
connection—this emerging global community—also threatens fundamental
aspects of who we are. It is only natural, then, that we tend to withdraw to
the security and continuity of tribes.” The group appeared intrigued. I continued. “We all belong to multiple
tribes. A tribe is any group to which we see ourselves as similar in kind,
whether based on religion or ethnicity or even our place of work. We feel a
kinlike connection to the tribe; we emotionally invest in it. This means a
religious community ...
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- Summer '18
- Amrit Bista
- Conflict, Daniel L. Shapiro