Negotiating the Nonnegotiable

Negotiating the Nonnegotiable

How to Resolve Your Most Emotionally Charged Conflicts

Penguin Books, 2017 more...

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  • Applicable
  • Concrete Examples
  • Inspiring


Psychology professor and negotiations expert Daniel Shapiro explains that  emotional conflicts threaten your identity, so that is where you must look to solve them. To heal conflict, he says, look for the “transcendent unity” that will help you go beyond your core identity and connect with the other person. Shapiro advises that instead of dealing with the surface topic of the dispute, like finances or politics, look at the part that identity plays. If you feel that a dispute threatens your identity, you may think fighting is your only alternative. Your opponent may feel that way, too. But, Shapiro insists, you both have productive alternatives. This lucid, engaging probe into a tough subject is a useful reference for senior managers, those seeking personal growth, and those who want to understand and resolve conflict at work or at home.

Emotional Conflicts

Many people must deal with extremely emotional situations with their families, at their workplaces or in their neighborhoods. Shapiro notes that people in such circumstances may become overwhelmed and unable to surmount the issues or suffering involved. Emotionally charged conflicts, he says, can be especially frustrating because no approach or strategy seems to work.

To understand and tackle the hardest conflicts, Shapiro urges you to delve below the surface. Look beyond seemingly crucial topics like finances or politics. Instead, he says, examine the part that “identity” plays in your conflict. When you feel that something threatens your identity, your emotions take control and you want to fight. “Reconciliation involves a dialogue between people,” Shapiro says, “but the hardest part takes place within yourself.”

About the Author

Daniel L. Shapiro, Founder and director of the Harvard International Negotiation Program, works as associate professor in psychology at Harvard Medical School/McLean Hospital and is an affiliate faculty member at the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.

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