Understanding of ways in which people interact

Negotiation Skills

A High Impact Negotiations Model: An Answer to the Limitations of the Fisher, Ury Model of Principled Negotiations

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This study aims to discover the ways in which blocked negotiations can be overcome by testing the Fisher, Ury model of principled negotiation against one of the researcher’s own devising, crafted after studying thousands of negotiation trainees from over 100 multinational corporations on 5 continents. It attempts to discern universal applications of tools, skills, and verbal and non-verbal communication techniques that may assist the negotiator in closing deals with what have been “traditionally” perceived as “difficult people.” This study concludes that there are no such “difficult people,” but rather only unprepared negotiators. The study takes a phenomenological approach to negotiations, with the researcher immersing himself in the world of negotiation training from 2012-14, for several major multinational corporations, intuiting the failings of the negotiators with whom he comes in contact, drafting and testing his own model for negotiators and testing it over the years. The overwhelming amount of positive feedback encourages the researcher to conclude that the Fisher, Ury model of principled negotiation, though helpful, is flawed in its approach. The researcher asserts that a fundamental understanding of human nature and of human relationships is essential in closing blocked negotiations and elevating one’s success rate, and that this fundamental or “deep” understanding can be acquired through the proper training, the avoidance of open questions, and the following of a complete or whole package negotiation model, which incorporates cues gleaned from the “deep” understanding of the ways in which people interact, the possible motives they may have for behavior, a refrain from judgment, and an insistence upon collaboration.

Table of Contents

List of Figures 7

Chapter 1: Introduction 9

Statement of Problem 9

Research Questions 10

Purpose Statement 13

Significance of Study 13

Definition of Terms 15

Limitations of Study 21

Assumptions 22

Organization of Study 23

Summary 23

Chapter 2: Review of Selected Literature 25

Literature Review Collection Procedure 25

History of Research 26

Negotiation Models 28

Objectivity vs. Subjectivity 45

What are the limits of skepticism? 45

What are the differences between the mind and the brain? 45

Importance of Negotiation 48

In Relation to this Study’s Research Questions 51

Current Selection Processes 58

Recommended Selection Processes 59

Summary 60

Chapter 3: Methodology 62

Data Analysis Approach 62

Intuiting Solutions to Problems 65

No Closed Questions — Only Open-Ended Questions 68

Educating the Trainees to Educate Their Negotiating Counterparts

Instructing Trainees on the “Principle” of High Impact Negotiating

Teaching the Principle of “High Impact Negotiations” through

Negotiation Analysis: An Illustrative Exercise 72

High Impact Model of Negotiation 85

Data Collection Method: Active Participation and Interviews

with Participants 86

Why This Approach 87

Data Source Rights of the Participants 87

Legal Issues 88

Summary 88

Chapter 4: Results 90

Overview 90

The Follow-Up Coaching Call 92

A Better Success Rate 106

Summary 107

Chapter 5: Discussion 109

Practical Application of Results 114

Suggestions 116

References 120

List of Figures

Figure 1. Location of Sessions Held


Figure 1a. The percentage of participant reactions to the phenomenon of blocked negotiations when using the Fisher, Ury model of Principled

Negotiations only 91

Figure 2. The success rate for participant negotiators using the Fisher,

Ury model of Principled Negotiations in real-world negotiations,



Figure 2a. Negotiators’ reactions, part 1 95

Figure 2b. Negotiators’ reactions, part 2 96

Figure 3. The percentage of participant reactions to the phenomenon of blocked negotiations when using the Fisher, Ury model of Principled

Negotiations for the first half of 2013 and the researcher’s High Impact

method for the second half 103

Figure 4. The percentage of participant reactions to the phenomenon of blocked negotiations when using the researcher’s High Impact

method only 104

Figure 5. The success rate for participant negotiators using the High

Impact Negotiations model in real-world negotiations,

2013-14 105

Figure 6. Comparison of the success rates for participant negotiators using the 2 models of negotiations, 2012-14 106

Chapter 1: Introduction

The Fisher, Ury model of principled negotiations has provided a framework for negotiators since its publication and popular reception more than thirty years ago. Since that time, researchers, such as this one, have questioned the effectiveness of the model.

This study is based on first-hand observations of the researcher, who has worked with thousands of people to date in over 140 multinational corporations on five continents. Reflecting on these interactions as well as on the relevant studies performed on the subject of overcoming blocked negotiations, it is clear to this researcher that a fundamental problem for most negotiators is that they struggle when the counterpart is very competitive and pushy. Lack of technical knowledge, know-how, the “right” attitude, creativity, and negotiating skill contribute to forming a basis for failure in such negotiations. It is “easier” for people struggling to say that “the other is difficult” rather than to question their own approach taken. Based on the researcher’s own observations, this appears to be a universal norm among struggling negotiators.

Using the Fisher, Ury model as a framework in negotiation training, this researcher has witnessed first-hand a universal need to rework the negotiation manual and base it on a more “inclusive” approach than principled negotiation offers.

Statement of Problem

The current offering in terms of negotiation theory and practice is insufficient to provide those who need them the necessary skills to overcome challenging situations. Harvard University’s negotiation center offers a course on “how to deal with difficult people” but in this dissertation, the researcher aims to show that there are NO difficult people but only unprepared negotiators.

An effective negotiation is based on a deep understanding of the components of human relations. The problem for negotiators is that they fail to appreciate the importance of this deep understanding. Theories and approaches have emerged to help negotiators, but each has its limitations in terms of efficaciousness. A negotiator must be able to see “how to relate” to the “other” and not allow himself to be “derailed” by minutiae, subjective judgments, or limited scope. A negotiator must have an efficacious and “open” disposition towards negotiating. This will allow him to see beyond obstacles and to patiently develop the deep understanding needed for overcoming them.

Training in negotiation skills is currently in high demand in large corporations and solutions to the increasing demand for cost reductions and other changes are constantly sought after. The demand for negotiators across the globe suggests that the art of negotiation contains a universality that can be understood through the observation of successful negotiators. The implementation of the Fisher, Ury model of negotiation has revealed a fundamental flaw in the way negotiators approach their counterpart. Identifying a universal method that helps negotiators overcome this flaw is the goal of this study.

Research Questions

This is a phenomenological study based on observation, in-depth interviews with participants, and analysis of empirical results coupled with qualitative assessments of individual experiences of the phenomenon.

The researcher observes negotiations to identify recurring behaviors that block negotiations and behaviors that lead to agreements. Such behaviors are classified and matched with existing theories, which offer explanations for these behaviors. The researcher identifies missing components in the following areas: verbal and non-verbal communication, attitude, strategies, and tools by asking the following three, purposefully broad questions:

A. What have you experienced in terms of the phenomenon (blocked negotiation)?

B. Before receiving training with the researcher’s “High Impact Negotiation” model based on collaboration, what contexts or situations have typically influenced or affected your experiences of the phenomenon?

C. Following training in the researcher’s “High Impact Negotiation” model, what contexts or situations have typically influenced or affected your experiences of the phenomenon?

The purpose of these questions is to allow the researcher to gather data for a “structural description of the experiences” (Creswell, 2007, p. 61), which can be used to form a deeper, universal understanding of negotiators’ experience in blocked negotiations and how they can proceed in a successful manner.

As a matter of course, the four points of principled negotiation are discussed during the training, but in such a way as to “disabuse” the trainees of whatever pre-conceived notions they may have coming into the training session. Because the researcher himself trained employees in “principled negotiations” for a number of years before adopting the current method of negotiation, he takes this opportunity to discuss with his trainees his reasons for adopting the new collaboration-based model.

The research questions are used as a way to verify the researcher’s pre-existing conviction that the Harvard-celebrated, Fisher, Ury model of negotiation is flawed because it views people as having “problems,” which is a negative way to view the negotiation process.

As part of the “disabusing” process, the researcher conducts his seminar with the following secondary questions in mind:

D. How does one respond to difficult negotiations?

i. Does the individual separate the people from the problem?

ii. Does the individual focus on interests, not positions?

iii. Does the individual invent options for mutual gain?

iv. Does the individual insist on using objective criteria?

E. What are the common characteristics of a successful negotiator?

i. What are the common features that work across cultures?

ii. What are the features that do not work across cultures?

These secondary questions allow the researcher to keep the focus of the study on the impact of the new model of negotiation, while retaining some connective points to the Fisher, Ury model to serve as a framework.

The study is primarily situated thus:

Trained negotiators in Principled Negotiation for — x- years. Results were this:

Trained negotiators in new model for — x- years. Results were this:

The study sample consists of 500 trainees with little to no knowledge of how to negotiate. After implementing the Fisher, Ury model with little to no success, the researcher adopted his new model with resounding success.

Purpose Statement

The purpose of this phenomenological study is to discover the universal ways in which blocked negotiations can be overcome by negotiators, utilizing verbal and non-verbal communication, a “right” attitude, negotiating strategies, the “spirit” of collaboration, and all the tools and techniques available to them.

Significance of the Study

The potential value of the study is found in the idea that, when the type of individual, the context and type of negotiation, along with a combination of verbal and non-verbal techniques, are all taken into account, the monitoring and honing of said variables can increase the effectiveness of negotiators in tough negotiations.

To this end, a new model of negotiation is created and tested in reoccurring blocked negotiation situations, specifically where “price” is presented by the buyer as the only determining factor for closing a deal.

This new model can be relevant for all negotiation trainers, whether they are confirmed principled negotiators or “Getting to Yes” skeptics. This model offers tools that can be utilized in a blocked negotiation situation, and also offers negotiation theorists an opportunity to learn from an extensive, in-depth real-world settings study, showing how and when negotiators fail to succeed in tough negotiations and what they can do to overcome obstacles.

Multinational corporations may also find this study significant, as the demand for negotiators is on the rise, and this study focuses on the training of negotiators to optimally adopt universal tools for closing tough negotiations.

This study will also be of interest to students of human nature and human relationships. Nowhere is the drama of wills more readily seen than in negotiation. What can reasonably be expected to occur in a negotiation based on what theorists know of human nature? What can theories of human relationships and the dynamic of human interaction offer to negotiation theorists? Ultimately, this study cannot solve all these questions, but it can provide a small window onto possible answers and provide researchers with more solutions, which can be tested in further studies.

Finally, the Fisher, Ury model is based primarily on the idea that two parties can compromise. The researcher’s model in this study is based on the idea that the negotiator can overcome blocked negotiations simply by listening and collaborating with the “difficult person.” At first sight, this may seem like a passive and “rolling-over” way of conducting a negotiation. Yet, if the goal is to close the negotiation favorably, collaboration is key. Collaboration offers incentive and implies relationship. Compromise implies separation, and self-directedness. The former is the muscle behind Holmes’ (2007) idea of the “ultimate sales machine.” The latter is a deceptively selfish and intrinsically flawed way of establishing a relationship and conducting good business. Compromise takes away, collaboration adds value. The former carries a negative connotation, the latter a positive one. Collaboration is impactful. As a result, this researcher calls his method “High Impact Negotiations.”

Definition of Terms

The following terms are defined in order to ensure consistency and clarity throughout the study. Definitions are crafted by the researcher, but where a citation is given, the definition is grounded in terms expressed by previous researchers and summarizes their words.

Blocked Negotiation: A negotiation that has reached an impasse, with the counterpart refusing to closing the deal until his or her demands are met. Blocked negotiations are typically the result of an “unprepared” negotiator meeting a “difficult” person.

Closed Questions: These are questions which can be answered with a single word (yes or no) or a short phrase. They are not open-ended and encourage quick, easy, factual responses, allowing the questioner to maintain control of the conversation, but in a very impersonal manner. Closed questions give the negotiator the impression that he or she is “gathering” the needed information about the counterpart. In effect, however, the negotiator is dismissing the person by treating him or her as though he/she were nothing more than a vessel of data, which needed to be extracted. Such questions limit in a severe way the depths to which the relationship can be developed.

Collaboration: The idea behind the definition of this word, which at first can seem a synonym for compromise, is that human nature in the modern era is much more given to making subjective judgments than objective judgments. For that reason, compromise can become difficult as negotiators fail to meet “eye-to-eye” because they are attached to seeing things their “own” way. Collaboration, on the other hand, plays to the strength of the objective-subjective imbalance, in that it invites the negotiator to see the value of the counterpart’s offer and understand how it can be beneficial rather than harmful. Collaboration calls for the negotiator to understand the needs and values of the other party and align them to his/her own. It is consistent with the Holmes (2007) model of sales, which is to identify with the counterpart and imagine oneself in his shoes.

Because it is difficult for individuals to truly be objective and to withhold judgment, it is important to bring a game plan to the negotiation that does not depend upon one being too assertive or too insistent upon “mutual gain.” Rather, collaboration is an idea that allows one to forego judgment and to keep from asking closed question (which by definition project one’s own ideas). Collaborating individuals refrain from judging their counterparts; they listen, integrate and accept, which can then lead the other to be in more of a listening mode. While Fisher, Ury suggest compromise, this study recommends collaboration.

“Difficult People”: Lohmeyer (2014, p. 4) states that “wily negotiators are now preying on a generation of ‘principled’ negotiators who have been conditioned to always ‘look for the win-win’, to ‘grow the pie’ and to ‘make sure the other side also wins’.” The “wily” negotiator may or may not be characterized as a “difficult” person, but he is a troubling one for the principled negotiator. The “wily” negotiator evades principles and can even use them against the negotiator who insists upon them. In this sense, such a negotiator may be “difficult,” but in a more specific sense the term “difficult person” may simply allude to one who stubbornly refuses to budge from a deciding point. Such a person represents an obstacle to closing a negotiation — either meet his demand or walk away. This study generally uses the term “difficult people” to mean just such a type, referring mainly to a negotiator whose deciding point is price. When the study discusses the subject of human nature and relationships, the term can be more broadly applied to include the “wily” negotiator alongside the “stubborn” one.

“Human Nature”: Understanding “human nature” has been the task of theorists, philosophers, theologians, politicians, businessmen, poets, artists, statesmen, priests, and so on, for as long as human history and these states of life have been in existence. This study can briefly summarize what the centuries have passed down to us concerning the collective understanding of “human nature” and use it to put forward a general consensus regarding the term.

Western civilization can be divided into pre-Christian, Christian, and post-Christian eras, each with its own conception of “human nature,” and Eastern (both near and far) civilization can be categorically arranged in a similar fashion. For the purposes of brevity, this study shall limit its scope to pre-Christian, Christian, and post-Christian conceptions.

The pre-Christian conception of human nature is found in works ranging from Plato to Sun-Tzu, and it generally speaks of it as struggling for balance between “right” impulses and “wrong” impulses. The cultivation of virtue is highly esteemed.

The Christian conception of human nature builds both upon the philosophy of the ancient Greeks and the religion of the Hebrews and asserts that human nature is “fallen,” and is essentially at war with itself, as it attempts to live up to the selfless ideal put forward by Christ.

The post-Christian conception of human nature, popular in the modern era, is that human nature is not “fallen” but is capable of both rational and irrational activity, has selfless and selfish motivations, and maintains no definable or absolute “good” or “truth,” contrary to the pre-Christian and Christian eras, which acknowledged the existence of universals. For this reason, the post-Christian conception of human nature may be deemed more “wily” than the other two because it itself refuses to consent to traditional terms, emphasizes subjectivity over objectivity, and can embody the predator negotiator type discussed by Lohmeyer (2014). At the same time, the post-Christian era has also produced idealistic conceptualizations of human nature, stemming from the Romantic-Enlightenment era. Modern notions of liberty, equality, fraternity, and especially entitlement descend from this era. This notion of entitlement can be especially destructive to the negotiation process, and this researcher recommends being aware of the drawbacks of operating under a sense of entitlement when conducting a negotiation. The post-Christian conception of human nature can perhaps best be situated in the artistic representations of the Russian novelist, who, “after Shakespeare has the greatest understanding of human nature” (White, 2012). Dostoevsky puts the conception in terms of “hero” and “anti-hero,” with the “hero” striving to attain the one, the good, the true, and the beautiful and the “anti-hero” seeking to serve his own selfish interests. He furthermore posits that there is a “hero” and an “anti-hero” in every human being. In relation to this study, the “hero” nature would attempt to see value in collaboration, whereas the “anti-hero” nature would attempt, perhaps, a grudging compromise.

This study considers the common characteristics of each of these conceptions and concludes that “human nature” may effectively be described as a combination of wills, “conflicting in one man” (O’Connor, 1962, p. i). It assumes that even though a principled negotiator may believe that a “win-win” negotiation can be achieved by means of fair play, it is not out of line to suspect that one’s counterpart may be “difficult” in the sense that he has no interest in “fairness,” in which case it can be helpful to radically alter one’s own orientation and view the counterpart not as a threat to compromise but as a possible collaborator. Refraining from judgment eliminates the problem of “fairness.”

“Human Relationship”: This term needs defining because in it is meant all the ways that persons interact and that information is conveyed between two persons — how they “relate,” verbally and non-verbally, and what ideas and consequences stem from that conveyance. A relationship is built on the nature and the interaction of the two parties, and therefore understanding the relationship depends upon understanding the natures and what specific modes of interaction and expression mean; that is, what ideas they convey. This understanding is especially helpful in interpreting expressions, mannerisms, verbal and non-verbal cues, etc., during negotiation, and for assessing the nature of the negotiator in terms of trust, forthrightness, integrity, etc.

Open Questions: These questions are more likely to receive long answers. They turn over control of the conversation to the respondent, encouraging the respondent to be reflective, thoughtful, and subjective. These questions are better situated for garnering opinions, feelings, and overall experiences. They do not encourage the respondent to be “to the point” but invite the respondent to share ideas and to enter into a spirit of true collaboration. They have the ability to put the “other” at ease by showing that the negotiator is willing to listen, is interested in listening, and is going to accept what he has to say without judging him. Open-ended questions are a good first step in establishing a positive relationship, a grounds for collaborative thinking, and the possibility for a win-win close.

Principled Negotiation: Fisher and Ury (1991) have given perhaps the best and most popular definition of principled negotiation in the 2nd edition of Getting To Yes: principled negotiation is “neither hard nor soft but rather both hard and soft….” It is a method of deciding “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” (Fisher, Ury, 1991, p. xviii). Lohmeyer (2014 expands upon the Fisher, Ury model by breaking the tenets of principled negotiation into four: 1) separate the person from the problem, 2) focus on interests, not positions, 3) invent options for mutual gain, 4) insist on using objective criteria. Each of the tenets/claims made in this definition will be tested in this study to show whether principled negotiation promises more than it can deliver. For the purpose of this study, these claims are fourfold: first, principled negotiation serves both parties to the negotiation; second, it is fair; third, it protects the negotiator from being taken advantage of; four, it allows the negotiator to obtain what he wants with honor.

Successful Negotiations: This term is used with regard to overcoming blocked negotiations. In this study, a successful negotiation is primarily judged by the following criteria:

1. Lost sales before training turned into sales post-training

2. Blocked situations unblocked after training and sales occurred

3. Sales volume increased as a result of a change of approach (i.e., the adoption of the researcher’s High Impact Negotiations model

Unprepared Negotiator: One who lacks the skills, techniques, and necessary modes of communication to overcome a blocked negotiation; one who refers to counterparts as “difficult people.”

Limitations of the Study


This study does not attempt to test the notion of “universality” but rather tests, both quantitatively and qualitatively, the ways in which negotiators on 5 separate continents may effectively and successfully close previously blocked negotiations. The problem of “universality” is one that has been addressed by researchers familiar with the Hofstede model of ethnicity norms. This study does not attempt to refute the arguments of these researchers, as it confines its scope solely to the identification of behavioral patterns among the purposive survey and drawing a limited conclusion from them.


The study is further limited by the size and obtaining of its sample. While the sample size is suitably large and the obtaining of the sample is practical in terms of utilizing that which is there for the sampling in the field of negotiations, it is not a study that can be practically replicated. Every single sample subject is a unique individual with a set of behaviorisms and beliefs which limit the study in terms of objective merit. Nonetheless, because the researcher’s phenomenological approach calls for an intuitive understanding of the reasons negotiators from various ethnicities fail to be successful, the study is not meant to be the last word on negotiating, but, rather, an initial word on a possible new direction in negotiation studies.


The 2-month time lapse between the end of negotiation training and the follow-up with negotiators to see whether their success rate has improved, is not a lengthy amount of time. It is rather an initial indicator of a possible trend. For a more thorough study, a more lengthy follow-up timeline should be followed, one that can incorporate the success rate over a period of several months, for example.


Finally, this study is by no means authoritative. It contains both quantitative and qualitative results, but it is primarily reflective of the researcher’s individual experience with negotiation trainees. It should serve only as a support or inspiration for future research.



The hypothesis that negotiation skills can be judged universally is accepted in the sense that universals are traits common to men and women regardless of ethnicity.


It is assumed that ethnicity and cultural background do play a part in negotiation techniques, because they influence behaviorisms and beliefs. However, these influences may be understood by the skilled negotiator to the point that they are not stumbling blocks in the negotiation.


Quantitative measurements may be used to support qualitative assessments and vice versa in the rendering of conclusions, however open-ended they may be.

Organization of the Study

The chapters that comprise this study are Chapter 1, which provides an introduction, statement of the problem, a definition of key terms, the significance of the study, a discussion of its limitations and assumptions, its research questions, and a brief summary.

Chapter 2 provides a review of the selected literature, with an overview of how and why the literature was selected, along with a discussion of the contrasting opinions of the literature and how they relate to this study.

Chapter 3 provides an outline of the methodology utilized, the parameters of the test given to the study’s sample participants, and the observational/theoretical technique used to gather results.

Chapter 4 provides the quantitative and qualitative results of the study.

Chapter 5 provides the analysis of the results and a conclusion.


A deeper understanding of human relationships and human nature as well as the tools needed to negotiate with “difficult persons” or “wily” negotiators is essential in raising the success rate of negotiators faced with blocked negotiations.

The Fisher, Ury model of principled negotiation has been very popular since its publication, but through the training of hundreds of negotiators on 5 continents, this researcher has observed the flaws of the model when followed in practice and has created a new model that emphasizes the need for the “deep understanding” as well as a proper grasping of communication techniques and a view of the “big picture” when attempting to close a negotiation.

This phenomenological study tests the Fisher, Ury model against the researcher’s model in real-world settings, and the results, which are analyzed in the final chapter reveal a positive success rate for those who implement the researcher’s model, which may serve to challenge the legitimacy of the Fisher, Ury model as the primary “go-to” model for negotiation tactics. In Chapter 2, some of the selected literature will highlight the Fisher, Ury model flaws and help to illustrate a need for a fresh, new approach.

Chapter 2: Review of Selected Literature

This chapter provides a review of research relevant to negotiation training and is divided into sections (a) history of literature on negotiation, including differences among negotiation models, (b) a history of the philosophical investigations into objective/subjective awareness, (c) the importance of negotiation, (d) negotiation basics and this study’s research questions, (e) current selection practices, and (f) recommended selection practices. A discussion of the collection procedure precedes the review.

The Literature Review Collection Procedure

One of the first works to be reviewed was Fisher and Ury’s Getting to Yes, the “populist” landmark source on principled negotiation. The researcher was already familiar with the work, but upon revisiting it was struck by certain ideas, such as the implicit trust that the authors placed in the model’s ability to protect principled negotiators from unfair manipulation on the part of the negotiator’s counterpart. This led the researcher to identify keywords in the text (commonly used terms with attached significance) and search them in unison with “negotiation tactics, manipulation,” and “principled negotiation, fairness.” These keyword searches were conducted using Google Scholar, Questia, ScienceDirect, JSTOR, and other scholarly article databases. The results of these searches allowed the researcher to form a general perception of scholarly research trends regarding the terms searched.

The researcher then began searching literature that corresponded to his initial misgivings about principled negotiations. Keyword searches included “principled negotiation flaw” and “failures in negotiation theory.” These searches yielded the following, Lohmeyer’s (2014) “Why ‘Getting to Yes’ Won’t Get You There” and Bottom’s (2010) “Essence of Negotiation: Understanding Appeasement and ‘The Great Munich Stereotype'” in Negotiation Journal. The first serves as a straightforward critique of the popular principled negotiation handbook; the second argues that “only behavioral theory” (Bottom, 2010, p. 379) can fully allow researchers the needed perspective into the inner workings of negotiation. These works compelled the researcher to adopt (or entertain) both a practical, real-world view of negotiation and to investigate academic theories associated with negotiation studies, which spurred yet another keyword search; this time “negotiation studies, real world” and “negotiation studies, theories.” Rational choice theory, new institutional theory, behavioral theory, agency theory, and several others appeared as a result. These numerous and seemingly random theoretical approaches to negotiation prompted the researcher to limit his search and focus more closely on theories connected to negotiation studies critical of principled negotiation tactics. The following sections provide a review of the procedure herein described.

History of Research

One reoccurring keyword among negotiation research is the term “trust.” It appears in the Fisher and Ury’s seminal work and in Mislin, Campagna, and Bottom’s (2011) “After the deal: Talk, trust building and the implementation of negotiated agreements.” It is the theme of Sinaceur’s (2010) “Suspending Judgment to Create Value: Suspicion and Trust in Negotiation” and of Oza, Srivastava, and Koukova’s (2010) “How Suspicion Mitigates the Effect of Influence Tactics.” The term was everywhere. But how did it correspond to the researcher’s understanding of human nature and to his negotiation trainees’ understanding of human relationships? How much trust could theorists legitimately expect to place on the negotiation table?

These questions prompted an exploration of the history of negotiation research. Follet’s (1918) seminal work in organizational theory prepared the way for negotiation researchers by identifying conflicts of interest in the negotiating parties connected to larger political organizations. While these conflicts point to a multitude of wills, discussed by O’Connor (1962) in the human condition, they also suggest that a phenomenological approach to understanding negotiation research is ideal, as it allows the researcher to absorb the experience, reflect upon it, and study it without the rigid limitations of any one theoretical perspective. Follet’s and O’Connor’s works highlight the need for a deeper understanding of human nature in negotiation studies.

According to McGinn’s (2010, p. 4) phenomenological study, “the negotiations subfield has been criticized for being isolated from the broader field of organizational studies.” The criticism is one that stems from the need to “box” negotiation studies within the confines of a larger field of study. The need is one that can be alleviated once the underlying nature of negotiation is assessed. This underlying nature has less to do with organizational studies and more to do with human nature and human relationships (Lohmeyer, 2014).

Returning to the history of negotiation, this notion of the importance of nature and relationships is made evident in the work of Walton and McKersie (1965), which suggested that negotiators perform their task within a complex web of sociality. Raiffa (1982) attempted to isolate the art of negotiation from the real-world and study it within the confines of laboratory experimentation, but this research drew criticisms from other scholars who “lamented the bracketing of negotiations from the ongoing stream of daily life” (McGinn, 2010, p. 6). The reality of human experience, human relationships, and human nature bears strongly on the study of negotiation, for it is within that realm of humanity that negotiation, regardless of whether it is for a corporate entity or for one’s own self-interest, takes place.

McGinn (2010, p. 6) summarizes the current state of negotiation research succinctly when she states (and it is worth quoting in full): “The history of the subfield of negotiation research suggests that there is a continuum of phenomenological assumptions regarding the relationship between negotiation episodes and the environments in which they occur. These assumptions, while not explicitly stated, set the foundation for the design, execution and interpretation of negotiation research.” This foundation, however, is challenged by the idealism of the Fisher, Ury model formulated in Getting to Yes.

Negotiation Models

Negotiation models since the publication of the Fisher, Ury model differ from one another in terms of the role of culture (Gelfand, Nishii, Holcombe, Dyer, Ohbuchi, Fukuno, 2001) and the ways that certain ideas, such as conflict, nationality, experience, and groups, are perceived to be factors in negotiation outcomes (Graham, 1983; Laura, 2011). Graham’s (1983) study suggests that representational bargaining strategies are the most fundamental key in American negotiations, whereas in Brazilian negotiations, deceptive bargaining strategies are fundamental to affecting outcomes. Thus, in Graham’s model, culture plays a difference. Culture may act as a moderator or mediator in the negotiation process (Manrai, Manrai, 2010; Kruglanski, Stroebe, 2012), but it can also be over-emphasized as transitions between micro- and macro-level studies suggest. The Manrai, Manrai (2010) model suggests that international business negotiations each have at their core a cultural theoretical framework for guidance in dealing with the disparateness of cultural attitudes and expectations. Kruglanski and Stroebe (2012) suggest that negotiation is a biological/psychological process that stems from evolutionary processes. They cite work done in the area of chimpanzees, where some form of “mediation” is discerned between chimps. In this sense negotiation is a natural, universal tendency and it is only the approach to negotiation that separates negotiators.

The existent literature on negotiation models and culture can be divided primarily into two camps, those that view culture as acting as a “barrier” in negotiations (Salacuse, 1999; Leung, Tong 2004) and those that view culture’s impact as over-emphasized and therefore subtly misleading (Sebenius, 2002; Laura, 2011). Identifying culture as a factor in international negotiation outcomes is a common theme in most literature on the subject; however, it may be seen that throughout the history of negotiation studies, this factor is weighed differently in regards to socio-historical context.

Leung and Tong (2004) develop a negotiation model that identifies culture as a moderator of justice rules, criteria and practices. They argue in this model that “cultural differences in justice practices may constitute significant barriers to intercultural negotiation” (Leung, Tong, 2004, p. 330). Their model, however, does not include a negotiation outcome. The study is primarily used as a starting point in establishing the idea that justice perceptions represent barriers to productive negotiation. The study does not illustrate by way of conducted experiment or test the erection of such barriers, but it does lay down a suppositional framework for investigating the dynamic interplay between culture, justice and prejudice in the negotiation process.

Leung and Tong’s negotiation model differs from several others in the field in that it reflects more on the theoretical, qualitative assessment of negotiation and less on the quantitative results that other negotiation studies present. Quantitative assessments have been provided by numerous researchers (Salacuse, 1999; Semnani-Azad, Adair, 2011) focusing on the outcomes of negotiation models rather than the praxis of theoretical frameworks that offer qualitative understanding. Leung and Tong also situate their study in a framework that contextually speaking may be placed among a reemerging awareness of international hostilities/conflicts in a post-9/11 world. Pre-9/11 studies are helpful as juxtapositions to such negotiation models.

However, the Fisher, Ury negotiation model still stands as the penultimate model, as nothing of considerable variance has been put forward. Negotiations are for the most still conducted as though “problems” were to be expected.

For example, Salacuse (1999) asserts that international business negotiators will always be in negotiations with individuals of different cultures. There is a specific, non-threatening emphasis on negotiations and culture that Cold War-era studies and post-9/11 studies deflect. Salacuse uses a cross-cultural comparative survey, administered to 310 business executives, lawyers and graduate business students (with work experience) from 12 countries and 5 continents in order to test the negotiators’ perceptions of their own negotiating styles. The quantitative assessment provides data that can be coupled with the theory of Leung and Tong but that in no way represents a precise indicator as to the absolute merits of the Leung, Tong analysis. Salacuse examines the four elements of culture — “behavior, attitudes, norms and values” — and quantifies the ways these elements affect negotiation perspectives (p. 217). The assessment looks specifically at communication/negotiation styles and discusses the impact that these differences have regarding “barrier” formations in the negotiation process. Salacuse’s findings support the work of Leung and Tong by providing numerical evidence of communication/negotiation styles that can “obstruct” the negotiation process. Yet not all modern researchers are content with this analysis (Bhargava, 2012).

Salacuse’s findings are questioned by Sebenius (2002), who provides another qualitative assessment in the form of a literature review. Sebenius does not ignore the link between culture and negotiation but he does call scholars to examine more closely common fallacies found in negation model research. He primarily points to reliance upon the stereotyping of national cultures, over attribution to national culture, and giving in to potent psychological biases. Sebenius warns that an over-emphasis of cross-cultural negotiation studies may result in an obscurement of finer and/or subtler details which may suggest that cross-cultural negotiations are similar to those “that take place within the same culture” (p. 122).

Sebenius’s arguments are qualitatively supported, but in opposition to them are those supported by quantitative data, such as the findings of Tung (1982), which precede Sebenius by two decades. Tung’s data is valuable because it serves as a foundation for the present camp which views culture as a relevant point in the negotiation process of internationals. Tung distributed a questionnaire to members of the National Council for U.S.-China Trade and received 138 usable responses. What he noted was that one of the factors which contributed to the success of negotiation was the familiarity with Chinese business practices and culture on the part of the American negotiators. Tung thus provides positive data to support the idea that culture and negotiation are linked. Whereas later researchers tend to focus on the negative impact of failing to realize culture (representing culture as a “barrier” in negotiations), Tung identifies familiarity with culture as a factor in successful negotiations.

In a preliminary study performed by Wilken, Fucks, Jacob, and Prime (2010), the researchers indicate that “cultural characteristics of the seller team impact upon negotiation outcomes” (p. 19). The researchers utilize online data for the quantitative study, gathered from negotiation simulations in chat rooms. 189 students were involved with teams being formed of both intra- and inter-cultural members. Both qualitative and quantitative cross-cultural and cross-national comparative studies reveal that culture does influence negotiations. The impact of these studies is significant in the sense that they confirm what decades old data has already suggested. Legitimizing the conclusions, however, is not as easy as simply gathering data, as Sebenius argues. Other issues that may factor into successful negotiation models regarding inter- and intra-cultural negotiations need to be considered and not excluded for the sake of minimizing their importance or relevance and maximizing the significance of previous researchers’ findings. Negotiation is a process that is not dependent upon culture cues alone, but also upon deals, desires, perceived valuations, needs, respect, and even more points that are impossible to quantify. The value of quantitative studies, such as this one by Wilken et al., is thus questioned by Sebenius, who protests that numerical studies can misrepresent a complex process and lead to a narrowing of focus that is retrogressive rather than progressive.

How negotiation changes in terms of culture is a focus that has never actually been brought to completion. One reason is that culture is dynamic, always changing, and in the global culture of the international business world today, that dynamic is influenced in ways that are themselves rapidly evolving. Ott (2011) has shown how developed frameworks illustrate the impact of different cultural variables on the dynamics of international business negotiations. His study is valuable as both a timely reflection of current dynamic trends and as a suitable foundation for future investigation. It considers the argument that myriad possibilities can influence the art of negotiation, whether analyzing the role of culture or not, for culture itself is represented or perceived in a myriad ways that are themselves products of cultural and social subtleties/influences. The sociological/historical aspect of the negotiation model study is one that could stand to be explored at length, and Ott’s study makes significant headway in laying the groundwork for such an exploration. Balancing and considering all facets of the negotiation process is his ultimate concern.

Other researchers examine facets of the question of culture and negotiation as well.

Brett (2000) utilizes a model that shows how the cultures of negotiators affect their preferences and strategies. His methodology is qualitative, derived from extensive literature review and is similar to the study of Morris, Gelfand (2004), whose model describes the affects of culture and cognition in the negotiation process. Barsness and Bhappu (2004) analyze how culture and communication media influence the outcome of negotiations. Several such studies assess the question of culture and negotiation by way of unique channels, whether viewing culture as a moderator or a mediator. Manrai and Manrai (2010) discuss culture as a moderator of the components of the negotiation process, while Carnevale, Cha, Wan, and Fraidin (2004) discuss culture as a mediator in the “relationship between negotiation conditions and mediator’s psychological states” (p. 286). In general, these studies are useful because they show how culture and negotiation have not be pinpointed, or nailed down, to any singly described or defined relationship. The relationship is exploratory, dynamic and individualistic. Certain generalities may be inferred from both quantitative and qualitative studies, but no single generality may be applied to the process as a whole or arbitrarily placed as a lens by which all future researchers and negotiators are obliged to view negotiation. The value of these studies is in their ability to view negotiations’ link to culture in myriad ways, providing negotiators and researchers with sufficient material with which to apply themselves to real-world scenarios.

From a psychological perspective, Allred, Mallozzi, Matsui and Raia (1997) bring their study on negotiation and emotions, showing how negative emotions affect the negotiation process and outcome. Culture factors into this study by way of the negotiator’s ability to have compassion or regard, but remains only a factor, as Sebenius suggests it should remain — not as an overwhelming or all-important consideration. This study is significant because it focuses more on the emotional aspect of negotiation, yet utilizes such factors, like rationally considered views of culture, in its analysis. Two models that Allred et al. provide show: 1) that high anger and low compassion will have a negative consequence on the negotiators’ ability to create value, and 2) that negotiators tend to have a low regard for each other’s interests in the negotiation as a result of feeling high anger and low compassion for each other. Allred et al. depict negotiators’ moods and emotional regard as mediators between judgment of responsibility and desire to work towards a valuable outcome. The study is both qualitative and quantitative in its assessment. The quantitative data is supplied by negotiation simulations involving 132 graduate students with a mean age of 27 and 3 years of work experience, placed into same sex dyads and assigned to varying levels of responsibility for negatively perceived behavior. The overall ambitious nature of the study reveals a need in research to provide all-encompassing studies that take a macro- rather than a micro- view of the relationship between negotiation, culture, emotions, rationality, etc. This is a study that is relevant to Sebenius’s call for less narrow or over-emphasized arguments regarding negotiation and culture.

Barry and Oliver (1996) provide a similar instance of widening the scope of negotiation models regarding culture and other influences. Their model examines the role of affect in a dyadic negotiation, affect being the generic arousal state which encompasses emotions and moods. The affective states of the negotiators mediate the negotiation process. The study is a qualitative literature review that proposes various models and research points. It is helpful in focusing on alternative approaches to negotiation studies and for highlighting points of departure and convergence with other studies and focuses of previous researchers who have examined the role of the emotions in the negotiation process.

Likewise, Wollheim (1999) suggests that emotional intelligence may be a variable of successful negotiation outcomes. He utilizes a map model, arguing that “an emotion is a kind of mental phenomenon… [consisting of] mental states…[and] mental dispositions” (p. 1). Forming a map of negotiators’ beliefs can help encourage upward flows of communication by allowing negotiators to understand the keys to overcoming obstacles. Wollheim (1999) attempts to explain his dispositional theory of emotions by dividing them into two compounds: Mental states, he says, are like what William James called “the stream of consciousness” (p. 1). Mental dispositions, on the other hand, are like one’s history: mental dispositions are more like the map of one’s “beliefs and desires; knowledge; memories; abilities, powers, and skills; habits; inhibitions, obsessions, and phobias; and virtues and vices” (Wollheim, 1999, p. 2). Mental states and mental dispositions, therefore, necessarily interact — and it is the negotiator’s responsibility to ensure that the interaction is positive and not rendered negative. Creating positive and encouraging atmospheres in which negotiator psychology can flourish is essential to nurturing a healthy negotiation/communication flow.

Krapfel (1982) provides an even earlier study, which is foundational in the sense that it gives a framework for the camp of researchers which minimize the effect of culture on negotiation by focusing on the dynamics of negotiation itself. The dynamics conform to certain business-related norms and expectancies. Krapfel’s model consists of three sub-models, specifying the dyad-buying center relationship and highlighting the liason role; specifying the buyer center decision process environment with explicit recognition of time dependencies; and specifying the advocate role and its antecedents and consequent conditions. Krapfel observes that information distribution among group members mediates the magnitude and direction of the choice shifts of the group.

Spector (1977) takes the study even further into history, viewing at a micro-level the effect of the psychological process on negotiation. Spector’s micro-level framework analyzes dyadic negotiation processes and outcomes in light of behavior determination. According to Spector, personality profiles and situational expectations mediate the behavioral bargaining strategies employed. Spector’s analysis is both qualitative and quantitative, as its theory is empirically tested in a laboratory setting using college students. However, as shall be discussed momentarily, these findings are situated in a historical, sociological context that illustrates more about the historical-socio movements in the field of negotiation studies than it does about negotiation model outcomes and expectations themselves.

For instance, the very early study by Randolph (1966) offers a model of international negotiation which attempts to overcome the incompatibilities of international negotiation. Performed at a time when hostilities prevalent to the Cold War-era were high, it may be observed that the emphasis of this study is on the perceived “incompatibilities” of international negotiators. Whereas a decade later in Sector’s study, psychology replaces “incompatibilities” as the primary focus of negotiations. Fischer and Ury (1991), of course, focus on principles in their model, which shows negotiation as based on interests and not positions. The focus in the 1990s is on “barriers” to negotiation and in the new millennium, the focus is decidedly macro as researchers search for a more all-encompassing explanation of how negotiation outcomes can be expected, especially in the face of an ever-more rapidly changing global dynamic. That is precisely what this study attempts to do. Cultures themselves are blurring and blending as multi-national corporations set the stage for negotiation practices and as media and corporate sponsorship literally change the way culture and values are perceived. Thus, as “negotiation outcome” becomes the primary focus, the effects of culture are argued as over-emphasized (Sebenius, 2002).

Some emphasis continues to be given to the focus on which subtle human behavior and characteristics, such as body language, can be factors in intra-cultural negotiations (Semnani-Azad, Adair, 2011). Andonova and Taylor (2012) discuss likeability as a universal concept in their study of cross-cultural likeability cues, noting that different cultures do in fact perceive likeability in subtle yet different ways. For example, it is not uncommon to find that color, brightness, and simple body language can convey more or less likeability according to cultural and custom norms (Andonova, Taylor, 2012). However, these studies can be balanced against others which take a more balanced macro-view of the link between culture and negotiation and how the former affects negotiation outcomes. One reason that macro- studies combined with micro-analyses may be helpful is that the negotiation process in the dynamic global business world of today must utilize general consensus views of culture cues and norms as well as more finely perceived views of general human behavior, which is not pertinent to any single culture but that has universal value.

The Hofstede Model of Cultural Dimensions was developed in the latter half of the 20th century, from the 1960s onward. It is an older model with certain weaknesses (for instance, there is no way to quantify its claims) that has nonetheless served as a simple basis for more complex and in-depth investigations of the way culture impacts business, management and international management (Vonk, 1999; Wardrope, 2005). Today’s world of negotiations is a world of cultural dynamism. Scholars speak of globalization and its effects, of a new global culture, and of a new world order which has long been in gestation (Rupert, 2000). In the 21st century, globalization and corporatism are accepted as a way of life (Perkins, 2004).

Thus, the Hofstede Model, which originally concentrated on 4 very distinct points — power orientation, uncertainty avoidance, individualism/collectivism, and masculinity (later including long-term orientation and indulgence vs. self-restraint) — as factors in the culture-business relationship, may be viewed as simplistic in today’s world of hyper-activity, cross-cultural businesses, globalization, Westernization, and economic destabilization. Wardrope (2005) uses a Hofstede-Hall hybrid model, which incorporates context and time orientation, to show the differences in the way the culture of the U.S. And Latin America approach the workplace: generally — and only generally — speaking, in the U.S., people tend to value punctuality whereas in Latin America, flexibility is valued; in the U.S., people tend to take words literally whereas in Latin America, context plays a crucial role; in the U.S., people tend to value freedom over authority whereas in Latin America, authority meets little resistance; in the U.S., men and women tend to be viewed equally — that is, as possessing the same authority — whereas in Latin America, men typically occupy a role of higher authority — and so on (Wardrope, 2005). In Wardrope’s study, it may be seen how the Hofstede Model can still function as a basic model for formulating comparisons. But it is by no means a model that contains a comprehensive framework for analysis. It is merely a foot in the door.

Objectivity vs. Subjectivity — the Nature of Judgment in the Modern Era

Epistemology is the study of knowledge and how we understand and come to “know” things. Its focus has evolved over the course of time, as cultures have changed and societal perspectives have shifted. For instance, in classical times, Plato focused on the relationship between philosophy and socio-political change, using the character of Socrates in his Dialogues to promote a vision of truth and servitude. Throughout the middle ages in Europe, philosophers and theologians focused on the connection between faith and reason, with Aquinas penning the ultimate field guide to this relationship in the Summa. In modern times, faith-based knowledge has been supplanted by empiricism and skepticism, with philosophers attempting to understand how they “know” and even whether they can “know” reality/truth, which is where much of epistemology focuses today.

To better understand how human nature has developed in relation to objective and subjective awareness, it is appropriate to return to the foundations of Western thought.

Socrates posed many questions to the Athenians of his day, not the least of which concerned the question of how to live the best possible life. Of all Plato’s writings, the Symposium addresses this question in the most unique (and humorous) way. One may gauge the seriousness of Plato’s Symposium from the title itself, which means literally “drinking party.” Of course, like all drinking parties there is bound to be absurdity mixed with philosophy — but the overall mood is light and the atmosphere celebratory. For these reasons, it is appropriate that the theme of the Symposium is love, for if there is one subject that captures the ethereal, the whimsical, the effervescent, and the practical all at once it is eros, phileos and agape.

In the Symposium, Plato shows how Socrates defines love as union with the eternal, which is God. This definition alludes to the idea that would find fullest expression in Augustine’s thought (itself an echo of the teaching of Jesus). Here, it is the pagan Greek who calls attention to the meaning of life as the correct placement of love. Plato elaborates on the meaning of life in his other writings as well. In the Apology, for example, Plato records Socrates as showing how humility is a requisite for love (and the uniting of oneself to the eternal will of God). Plato makes a rather brilliant philosophical point — honest and true — when he has Socrates proclaim: “O men of Athens…God only is wise; and in this oracle he means to say that the wisdom of men is little or nothing; he is not speaking of Socrates, he is only using my name as an illustration, as if he said, He, O men, is the wisest, who, like Socrates, knows that his wisdom is in truth worth nothing.” (Plato Apology 23a).

If there is one characteristic that has always distinguished the social/psychological bent of the West, it is the religion and characteristic of caritas — or charity. As Benedict XVI (2009) shows in Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth), charity is that “to which Jesus Christ bore witness by his earthly life and especially by his death and resurrection…caritas…is a force that has its origin in God” (p. 7). This assertion, coming in the new millennium may be used as a gauge of what the West has believed, at least religiously, for centuries: the notion of charity has played a major role in the development, spread, and founding of Western values. It is this notion that a true “spirit of collaboration” is best situated upon in this researcher’s negotiation model. It is this notion that the researcher’s illustrative exercise, used in Chapter 4, aims to emphasize.

Augustine best reflects this notion when he writes that sin is actually misplaced love; to judge another is antithetical to the notion of charity, as taught by the West. Yet, today’s era is post-Christian, more subjective, and more adapted to making subjective judgments. Today’s world, as a result of immersion in modern philosophy, which is not centered on Old World universal values, is much less objective in its assessment of relationships. Therefore, it is necessary to see how subjective modern human nature tends to be. The purpose of doing so is that the researcher be made aware of the likelihood of negotiators adopting too subjective, and therefore judgmental, view of the counterpart in his negotiation. But more will be said on that point in the next chapters.

As Richard Weaver (1984) observes, the scientific community of the modern world had been at odds with itself since Occam had essentially denied the existence of universals. With the denial of universals went the denial of transcendental truth, of the power of the intellect to know truth, of objectivity, and of “a priori” arguments (p. 16). Occam’s assertion came at the end of the medieval world and helped to spark the climactic Protestant Reformation (which challenged the authority of Revelation) and the Scientific Revolution (which challenged the relationship of faith and reason as well as the value of traditional scientific/objective understandings of things). Occam’s argument paved the way for the path of skeptics like David Hume, whose philosophy influenced Immanuel Kant (a Rationalist/Subjectivist). Rationalism, for a time, held back the tide of subjectivism and attempted to assert the idea that the mind was capable of knowing reality on an objective basis and not purely on a subjective one.

One of the weaknesses of Rationalism, however, is its utter insistence upon the powers of the mind (Weaver, 1984). The old world understood very well that there was a mysterious element to life that was simply beyond reason, as Aquinas demonstrates throughout the whole of the Summa Theologica. One of the reasons that Humean skeptics thrived in the Age of Enlightenment/Romanticism was because Rationalism presented itself so assured of itself despite the very real and very unaccounted for mystery of the universe (Weaver, 1984).

Rationalism also (through the work of Kant) fed into the dominance of subjectivity in the modern era. Whereas traditional rationalists had insisted upon the ability of reason to know truth (even if they were not universalists, per se), Kant attempted to reconcile Rationalism with Hume’s Skepticism; he thus produced Subjectivism, in which the mind could know a kind of reality, but that reality was ultimately and merely a perception of the beholder, nothing objective or true.

Truth in short became subjective, and rather than universal non-contradicting Truth, there came into belief the idea of truth as personal and subjective. As Rationalists found out, just about anything can be reasoned, even error, if one overthrows objective truth with subjective interpretation. The old hierarchy had been demolished at the end of the medieval world; rationalism held onto it as long as it could, but having rejected the ultimate source of that hierarchy (Revelation), it soon gave into the subjective philosophies that abounded. This was the main weakness of Rationalism as it developed from the philosophies of Descartes to Kant, building on the assertions of the anti-universalist Occam.

This has led to the advent of utilitarianism, a pragmatic approach to human relationships — but one that is ultimately self-oriented, not “other” oriented.

Utilitarianism may be defined as an ethical theory which holds that human happiness is the object of all human actions and humans know “right” from “wrong” because of something called “pain.” If it is painful, it is wrong. If it makes one happy, it is right. This subjective philosophy served as the total inversion of Old World philosophy as taught by Christian scholastics. Yet, John Stuart Mill’s theory is an extension of Hobbes’ philosophy. Utilitarianism is not based on the transcendentals of ancient definition — the one, the good, and the true (unum, bonum, verum). Immanuel Kant made an attempt in his subjectivist philosophy to assess the universality of transcendentals. His theory led him to take a subjectivist stance, which allowed for the Utilitarian theory to take hold.

Kantianism may be defined as an attack on the school of empiricism. Kant (1881) himself argues that “the true science of logic has eliminated all its a posteriori or empirical elements, and stands now rigorously pure and all incontrovertibly a priori” (p. 31). What this means is that Kant was looking for the basis of the universal law — the unum, bonum, verum of antiquity — and considered that it could only really be known by one’s own assessment and not in and of itself. That is, one could know it subjectively but not objectively. This was another direct contradiction of Old World scholastic philosophy.

A posteriori refers to reasoning that is phenomenological (Palgrave, 1901). A posteriori reasoning follows experience. It is based on the observation of data collected through the application of the senses and used to arrive at a scientific conclusion. A priori reasoning, on the other hand, precedes experience and is formulated in the mind by way of deduction. Jevons (1889) writes that “there is a great advantage in a priori knowledge; we can often apply it in cases where experiment or observation would be difficult,” making him an early phenomenologist (p. 209). The example of a priori reasoning that Jevons gives is of our ability to determine without experiment that a rock that is dropped will heat up when it hits the ground. This knowledge may be deduced in the mind without reference to direct experiential knowledge. Thus, Jevons also makes himself a universalist. With these terms defined thus, the question may now be addressed: how is objectivity established? Is it deduced in the mind or is it calculable by experience? The answer is, in a way, both.

What are the limits of skepticism?

Hume insists that all knowledge must stem from visible proofs, but his insistence denies the value of intuition or “recollection” as Socrates observes in Plato’s Dialogues. Hume relegates reality to two categories, “matters of fact” and “relations of ideas” (Hume, 1748), however truth is dependent upon the observance of facts because, as Hume sees it, the subjective mind cannot be counted on to give an objective definition of truth.

Thus, the limit of skepticism is that of empiricism. Each depends on statistical analysis and denies the intellect. Descartes, on the other hand, appealed to the intellect, as did Plato and Aristotle. Observation certainly plays a part in the acquiring of knowledge, but data is not required where common sense can play a part. Implicit in common sense, of course, is the idea of the existence of universals, or rather traits that are common to all men and to existence everywhere.

Regarding skepticism, the better, or more moderate, appears to be the one which allows for the processes of the intellect yet does not assume that reason is capable of discerning all things. This approach is best characterized by the Platonic, or even medieval, approach.

What are the differences between the mind and the brain?

The difference between the mind and the brain is the difference between the physical and the intellectual/spiritual. In Plato’s Dialogues, the mind appears to be equal to the spirit or the soul, upon which truth is imprinted, which is how, according to Plato, the mind/intellect is able to discern truth/reality. The brain on the other hand is a physical entity. It is the center of the nervous system, from which the body receives various messages and stimuli.

From the mind comes the ability to discern truth, at least according to the old world philosophers like Plato, Aristotle, Isocrates, Augustine and Aquinas. One might experience reality through the five senses, which sends information to the brain, but while the brain “interprets that information” it is the mind which discerns whether that information is true or not, whether there is identity between the information being interpreted and the reality outside the mind.

However, as the modern age is distinctly more secular with regard to science than the medieval age in which Church and science were united in the effort to reconcile faith and reason known now as scholasticism, spirituality outside the Church often refers to a kind of humanistic endeavor: as Jan Fawcett (2006) states, spirituality is “seeing the ‘big picture’…it is looking for a spark of divinity within myself, but also in every person I meet…it is about empathy, fairness to others, loving kindness, feeling a part of the great connectedness of human life” (p. 137). It is exactly such “spirit” that the researcher encourages his negotiators to wield when they enter into a “high impact negotiation” because it allows them to think of the “other,” i.e., the counterpart, rather than of themselves. It makes the counterpart feel welcome.

Fawcett’s definition is encouraging, for it illuminates to some extent the definition of “negotiation” that is often not discussed in negotiation training. If Fawcett’s sounds like an expansion of the Golden Rule, one may be inclined to believe that “spirituality” as it is understood today, in a humanistic sense, is a philosophical holdover from the religion of the age of faith. While the Christian God of Western civilization has been replaced by a vague, disoriented deism, there remains the sense that mankind may benefit from an evaluation of his spiritual aspect.

The impact that spirituality may have on negotiation is, therefore, not to be ignored. If the purpose of negotiation is to create a win-win scenario for both sides of the negotiating party, it may be suggested the a spirit of collaboration is the best way to create that scenario. The problem remains: how to do so?

Aristotle’s answer to that question is that one should cultivate good habits, such as a habit of refraining from judging others. According to Aristotle, “virtue is a habit” that makes the operator and the operation good: “The virtue of man…[is] a habit, from which man becomes good, and from which he will perform his work well” (Aristotle, 1889, p. 43). The parameters of this habit of virtue must necessarily fall between two extremes — of which virtue is the mean, or average, or balance. There should neither be too much of what is good or too little of what is good, for extremes spoil the whole, relatively speaking. As Aristotle says, in moral virtue there are “defects” and “excesses,” and as moral virtue relates to passions and actions, too little passion or too great passion are both improper. The mean is desirable — and the cultivation of equanimity of the passions (evenness of temper, etc.) is the object of man (Aristotle, 1889, p. 44). “Virtue is a habit, accompanied with deliberate preference…defined by reason” (Aristotle, 1889, p. 45). Thus, it is Aristotle himself who invites the negotiator to practice “High Impact Negotiation,” which is a method based on the virtue of acknowledging the “other” rather than oneself. By understanding the importance of virtue ethics, commitment to the “other,” in accordance with the Old World model of “caritas,” negotiators can form the habit of objectivity without judgment, of accepting without having to “agree,” and of collaborating without fear of “losing.”

Importance of Negotiation

Entire corporations’ profitability can hinge upon the art of negotiation. The quantitative study by Mislin, Campagna, and Bottom (2011) illustrates the point. Their study highlighted the way that “small talk” before a negotiation can make the buyer more willing to be financially vulnerable than if no such “small talk” took place beforehand. Their study provides quantitative data signaling that human nature is prone to drop its “guard” when “friendliness” (by means of “small talk) is introduced into the human relationship. Negotiation is an art, but like any art, it is full of representations, which can be deceptive and misleading for those who are unprepared to fully appreciate the nature of the negotiator.

The findings of Mislin, et al., corroborate the claims found in Lohmyer’s critice of the Fisher, Ury model of negotiation. More corroborative literature is found in Sinaceur’s (2010) quantitative study, focused on four experiments involving participants who were categorized according to whether they were trusting or suspicious and then tested as to levels of naivety, gullibility, trust, and healthy suspicion. According to Sinaceur (2010, p. 543), “suspicion can present greater benefits than trust for generating information search and attaining integrative agreements in negotiation.” Especially in today’s post-9/11 world, suspicion can be an appreciable asset for the negotiator, contrary to the implicit trust in “fairness,” which the Fisher, Ury model proposes negotiators adopt.

If “fairness” is equitable, Scanlon’s (2011) qualitative study proposes, what is there to negotiate? Scanlon’s study is situated within the context of risk communication, but it relates to negotiation research, which, appropriately, has a high degree of risk involved. Therefore, as Scanlon observes, understanding how the world of negotiators is shaped and how sociological beliefs about “risk” are fundamentally shared by all, a first step in discerning the importance of “right” negotiation practices is found in adopting a proper theoretical approach. Scanlon recommends three: Rational Choice Theory, Routine Activities Theory, and Grounded Theory.

Grounded theory enables the researcher to focus on the rudimentary relationship between politics, media and society and how that relationship determines the ways in which negotiations are enacted.

Rational choice theory does not refer to subjects who act rationally, but rather to actions that are effected as a result of the balance of benefits and costs in relation to personal gain. If one examines the risks inherent in any negotiation from the perspective of rational choice theory, one may be compelled to analyze it from an economic angle: from such an angle, negotiation may be related, for example, to how well one makes good economic choices. The staple of “fairness” no longer necessarily applies in such a theory.

As O’Sullivan (2011, p. 26) states in his qualitative study linking negotiation research to opportunity cost, one “must compare the benefit of something to its cost.” Building on Scanlon’s idea, O’Sullivan suggests that rational choice theory has more to do with opportunity cost than with ethical decision making. The fact that negotiation risk is correspondent to economic valuation means that rational choice theory can help define and determine the source of negotiation failings associated with taking on too much risk, since decisions made at the negotiation table may be linked to a fear of “cost,” economically speaking. O’Sullivan uses the theory to develop a framework in which he situates negotiation models in a purely material/economic perspective. According to O’Sullivan, negotiation has to be understood in a manner similar to the driving forces of the marketplace — the law of supply and demand. One negotiator represents supply, the other demand. The negotiation represents “opportunity cost.” In order to appreciate the art of negotiation, one must be able to weigh the economic factors at play: “Opportunity cost incorporates the notion [that] no matter what we do, there is always a trade-off. The notion of opportunity cost allows us to measure this trade-off” (O’Sullivan, 2011, p. 26). Successful negotiation, therefore, is the art of measuring opportunity cost.

Further elaborating on Scanlon’s research is Irwin’s (2008) qualitative study which asserts that routine activities theory may allow the negotiation researcher to focus on sociological aspects of negotiation perception. Through routine activities theory, negotiators may consider not opportunity cost so much as simple opportunity: is there opportunity for a successful negotiation? According to Irwin, there appears to be a need to focus not only on the economical aspects (through rational choice theory) of good negotiation practices but also on the sociological aspects of the ways in which negotiation is defined by a culture of “science as truth” (Irwin, 2008, p. 6). The Fisher, Ury model represents the vacuum-like “science as truth” structure for negotiators who fail to deeply understand human nature, human relationships, and the beliefs which influence them. Irwin’s study suggests that “first-order thinking depends on…the culture of modernity, a culture within which science is presented as the embodiment of truth and the task of government becomes one of bringing rationality to human affairs” (Irwin, 2008, p. 6). Governing one’s self and one’s negotiation, Irwin implies, is not as simple as plugging in a formula and pressing a button. Successful negotiation depends upon transcending the formulaic and appreciating the “deeper” science of things. It is this “deeper” science of things that this phenomenological study aims to reach. And it is through a collaborative process that these depths can truly be plumbed.

In Relation to This Study’s Research Questions

Rojas (2012) uses Hofstede’s cultural dimensions model and Hall’s contextual paradigm to examine the stress of negotiations in cross-cultural settings. The study qualitatively explores the ways in which the model and the paradigm can help to explain why cross-cultural negotiations become blocked. The conclusion of Rojas (2012) is that such negotiations become blocked because there is a “lack of respect” on the part of the negotiator for the counterpart. This conclusion supports the hypotheses of this study in that it calls for a collaborative approach to negotiation, which is respectful, non-judgmental, and value-seeking rather than entitlement-desiring.

The Thomas-Kilmann (2008) model of conflict resolution is relevant to this study as it identifies 5 different conflict resolution behaviors based on assertiveness and cooperativeness. It identifies compromise as the middle-of-the-road resolution tactic, competitiveness as the extreme in assertiveness and uncooperativeness (and the behavior most typically to lead to blocked negotiation), accommodating behavior as overly passive and too unassertive to be of positive use, avoidance as the opposite extreme of competitiveness, and collaborative behavior as cooperative and assertive. While the Thomas-Kilmann model does not propose any one tactic over another, but suggests that their usage depends upon the situation, this study emphasis the positive aspects of collaborative behavior in general.

The Thomas-Kilmann model also suggests the adoption of a theory of cognitive dissonance. The theory of cognitive dissonance can provide a capable conceptual framework, according to . Risk managers seek to alleviate dissonance by ensuring consonance. As cognitive dissonance theory reveals that society can hold conflicting worldviews, dissonance is likely to be the result of a clash between the club-rule perspective and the technological citizenship perspective, or two teams in one system working for opposing objectives. According to cognitive dissonance theory, the risk manager may be obliged, depending on his orientation or his employer, to engage in dissonance reduction.

Samaan and Vernueil (2009), in the qualitative and quantitative study, identified “spirit of mission” as essential in the success of the U.S. Coast Guard’s response to Hurricane Katrina. This same “spirit” can be applied to the negotiation process in terms of seeking a collaborative process.

The relationship between belief and action is pivotal in Festinger’s theory. Consistency between the two forms the framework of ‘spirit of mission’ (Samaan, Verneuil 2009:421), which may be understood as the ability to maintain consistent adherence to an organization/agency’s mission statement. Yet, maintenance of that mission depends on more than the organizational system that supports it. Just as belief and action affect and are affected by a ‘spirit of mission’, organizations and agencies affect and are affected by a larger political, economical and social setting. Sun Tzu (2010:37) notes that ‘He will win whose army is animated with the same spirit throughout all its rank’.

Festinger (1957) asserts that dissonance is handled in three different ways — not all of which facilitate active learning. Festinger (1957) states that cognition refers to ‘any knowledge, opinion, or belief about the environment, about oneself, or about one’s behavior’. One’s actions are normally oriented towards one’s beliefs, so that if one accepts the ‘spirit’ of an organization or agency, his or her actions should serve to represent that spirit. When actions are not consistent with beliefs, dissonance occurs.

Festinger has shown that humans typically tend to strive for consistency between belief and action. Inconsistency is a way of describing dissonance.

Festinger (1957:3) also asserts that ‘dissonance’, or ‘hunger, frustration or disequilibrium…that is, the existence of nonfitting relations among cognitions, is a motivating factor in its own right’. Dissonance creates psychological discomfort, which serves to ‘motivate the person to try to reduce the dissonance and achieve consonance’ (Festinger 1957:3). Dissonance is not only something that one tries to reduce but is also something one tries to avoid: ‘When dissonance is present’, Festinger states, ‘the person will actively avoid the situations and information which would likely increase the dissonance’. One can see how Festinger’s assertions would apply to the problem of the whistleblower. When the whistleblower brings to light information that may trouble the status quo (or equilibrium of an organization), it is quite possible that an organization’s leaders reject the information in order to maintain equilibrium (or consonance).

Cognitive dissonance is the precursor to actions directed towards dissonance reduction. Cognitive dissonance theory essentially proposes that action affects attitude and belief just as much as attitude and belief affect action. Because, as Festinger argues, (1) humans naturally tend towards harmony, balance and consonance; and that (2) inconsistency between belief and action is problematic because it produces dissonance, (3) humans will attempt to resolve the dissonance by altering action, belief or perception. Resolution is achieved through these three courses of action: by altering the belief to match the action; by altering the action to match the belief; or by altering the perception of the action (i.e., ‘rationalizing’ or justifying it so as to make it ‘seem’ to match the belief).

Cognitive dissonance theory helps to reveal how risk managers deal with various political, economical and social pressures in circumstances of confidential reporting. Outside pressures affect the way just cultures truly facilitate and/or hamper active learning. As pressures create discomfort or dissonance in a person’s ability to reach his or her objective, that person is likely to effect some degree of change in order to re-establish equilibrium or consonance. Inconsistency between action and belief can result in dissonance. Festinger (1957) states that a person experiencing cognitive dissonance will change his belief, change his action, or change his perception of his action. Any of these changes should result in the lessening of dissonance and the restoration of consonance. But they do not always facilitate active learning — not when the changes fail to correspond to the truth of the reality.

Dekker’s (2012) work on just culture systems states, that by facilitating a culture of forthrightness, an organization allows itself to focus on problem areas and improve them “rather than deflecting resources into legal protection and limiting liability” (Dekker, 2012, p. 9). Marx (2001) concurs in his qualitative analysis of just culture systems, suggesting that to expect perfection is unreasonable, since imperfect creatures are operating the system. Applied to negotiation studies, these ideas reflect the notion that attaining what one wants over seeking to help the “other” attain what he or she needs, is a losing process. As Holmes asserts, assisting the “other” is the greatest way to establish a relationship and seal a negotiation for life. If a convergence of ideals will promote the common good, it may be argued that collaborative negotiations stand a higher chance of succeeding than negotiations where there is a divergence of thinking and a resounding dissonance in the relationship.

Reave (2005) shows in her quantitative study on leadership skills in over 100 countries that spiritual values consistently line up with the effective leadership: “Values that have long been considered spiritual ideals, such as integrity, honesty, and humility, have been demonstrated to have an effect on leadership success” (p. 655). In relation to the negotiation process, Reave’s study signifies a direct correlation between human nature and successful negotiations. Integrity, as Holmes (2007) argues, is at the core of genuinely successful sales. Integrity is a quality linked synonymously with goodness, selflessness, support, caring, and a host of other descriptive adjectives that show regard for the “other.” In the art of negotiation, opening up to the “other,” refraining from judgment, asking oneself, “How can I help this person get what he or she wants?” or, “What can I offer this person?” is a first step in overcoming a blocked negotiation because of a perceived “difficult person.” Reave suggests, like Dekker (2012) and Festinger (1957) that persons should not be isolated from problems but the two taken together. In principled negotiation, Fisher and Ury suggest the same, but they emphasize compromise, which tends to split the two parties even though it appears to suggest that they are “working together.” True “working together” in spirit of collaboration suggests discovering solutions rather than comprises; it emphasizes recognizing a common good rather than a settling of accounts.

Tenbergen (2001) of the Institute for Leadership Development addressed the Interdisciplinary Research Seminar on Negotiation at Harvard University with the following assertion: “Most critics claim that the concept of principled negotiation is too “soft”….The critics are generally right but…it is easy to integrate these aspects in an even stronger concept of negotiation” (p. 1). Tenbergen’s assertion is that the model’s “softness” can be overcome by a Tit-for-Tat emphasis on value creation — a conditional openness. The model created by this researcher is similar but only in the sense that it emphasizes greater openness: the problem with negotiators who are blocked is that they judge and project/interpret all the data which comes to them, rather than simply accepting it without judgment and extracting needs and values from that data, which can be used as the source of collaboration.

Lohmeyer (2014) asserts that “to be successful requires flexibility, agility, creativity and the ability to apply a wide variety of tools and strategies to any negotiation” (p. 3). Jensen (2013) supports Lohmeyer’s assertion in his Forbes article, simply stating that the one problem with Getting to Yes is this: “It didn’t work.” The problem Jensen claims is that negotiators do not know themselves: according to Jensin, 40% of them “tend to believe that they are cooperative and trusting…yet, when asked about the counterpart, [they] tend to believe that the other party is just looking to win.” As Jensen notes, this is not the spirit of collaboration. It is the problem of not knowing oneself and of not knowing how to appreciate the “other.” Jensen seconds the method of Holmes in that in addition to being a successful negotiator through acting with “openness, honesty, and collaboration,” one must also endeavor “to motivate and educate others.” Holmes (2007) highly recommends “education” as a key element to closing negotiations. By dispelling ignorance and offering something for free (education) that the counterpart can value, a relationship is formed and a bond created. Jensen states that negotiators are able to “claim up to 42% more value in a deal by abandoning zero-sum games and creating a relationship based on trust and collaboration.” This notion completely supports the thesis of this study. To expand upon the importance of abandoning the zero-sum game, it is applicable to turn to the realm of geopolitics and the two opposing spirits of East and West, as described by Escobar (2014).

Escobar (2014) points at the attitude of Western leaders is that found at the heart of zero-sum game politics: that essentially they are out to make themselves rich and the other poor. Eastern leaders in Russia and China, however, are alert to the idea that zero-sum games do not foster healthy, working relationships. For that reason they are striking collaborative deals that enrich both sides of the table, that are not exploitive, and that are built on mutual respect. The key for successful negotiations is view the other not as a zero-sum game player but as a potential collaborator. One need no defense against the other if he turns out to be a zero-sum game player because he himself will walk away from collaboration. Thus, the “defense” discussed by Fisher and Ury is largely imaginary. A good defense is a willingness to be open, forthright, integral, and collaborative. Escobar (2014) asserts that the West is losing on the geopolitical stage because it refuses to adopt a collaborative disposition. Instead, it insists on the old, age-of-empire method of interaction: all or nothing. As Western standards of living, levels of trust, and expectations continue to wither, the East is showing signs of health and promise because it is not bent on mutual destruction but on mutual appreciation (Escobar, 2014).

What Escobar asserts is that negotiators need to adopt the Golden Rule in their dealings with one another. Fisher and Ury state that principled negotiators need only turn to an objective source to settle disputes, but as White (1984) observes, the suggestion is “naive and…misleading” (p. 117). Using objective criteria to avoid “contests of will” only gives an “appearance of reasonableness and honesty” but it does not necessarily change the conduct of the negotiators themselves (White, 1984, p. 117). Superficial appearances can be misleading and the reason that negotiators can be misled by them is that they think they are getting what they want. However, they can be taken advantage of quite easily because they take themselves out of the relationship by focusing on their own needs and wants rather than on the needs and wants of the counterpart. The simple solution is to identify the needs and wants of the counterpart, ask oneself honestly if one can fulfill them — if so, success; if not, why? Honesty and openness is the direct path to a higher success rate.

Current Selection Processes

Current selection processes utilize a substantive process in order to synthesize the literature and develop a critical analysis of current research. It is typically defined by a guiding concept, which allows the reviewer to select literature relevant to the study. The selection process establishes a context for the study as well as a scope, and then justifies both by establishing a theoretical framework and approaching the framework from a specific method.

Current practices select literature which is both quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative literature is used to support arguments and qualitative literature is used to describe phenomenon. Seminal works of literature, such as Hofstede’s Model-based literature, or Fisher and Ury’s Getting to Yes are useful in accommodating future theories. In challenging old negotiation models and forming new ones, attention should be given to such seminal works that by Matsumoto and Hwang (2011), who demonstrate in their study the universality of facial expressions. A broad spectrum of studies from various fields, in which human nature and human relationships are studied, is essential for cultivating a robust literature review as support for negotiation studies. Such studies provide a linearity and continuity, which is helpful in establishing an authoritative and/or qualitative approach.

Recommended Selection Processes

This study used a key word selection process in order to gather the most popular literature relevant to the thesis. Key word searches were based on popular terms utilized by the authors within their texts and cross-referenced with other literature terms popular in academia regarding likeability.

The key words were then synthesized and new searches initiated in several databases known to contain literature relevant to the study.

For this study, such a selection process was helpful because it is based on how individuals react to the phenomenon of blocked negotiations and what they can do to overcome them. Popular opinion goes a long way in shaping perception and so a search based on popular key words was believed to help the researcher gather the necessary materials. For a study that was not based on popular perceptions, such a selection process may not be sufficiently substantive. It would be recommended that the researcher base his or her selection process on the guiding concept of his or her study and thereby verify results through a comprehensive synthesis of relevant information.

Attention should be paid to quantitative literature as well as qualitative. But in different cases, the researcher may choose to focus primarily on one set of data rather than on the other, depending on the scope of the study and the context. Were this study to be broadened, it would be recommended that more attention be given to quantitative analysis in order to appeal to a more empirically-based system of science.


The literature review collection procedure consists of the accumulation of literature through keyword searches and a process of “trimming away the fat.” A narrowed focus allowed the researcher to concentrate on those studies which in some way related to the Fisher, Ury model of negotiation, the role of human relationships in negotiation, and the sociological, psychological, and environmental influences on human nature in the modern era.

The history of negotiation research has shown that the Fisher, Ury model remains the definitive model, based on popular usage and promulgation. However, researchers have indicated that it is flawed at best. Nonetheless, no “better” models have been introduced as an alternative, just “different” ones which approach negotiation with the same “blinders.”

These studies relate to this study in that this researcher presents a new and “better” model in that it is designed to protect the negotiator from falling into the traps set for him by the Fisher, Ury model. It forbids open-ended questions, encourages a spirit of collaboration, and teaches the negotiator to focus on positive facts and ideas that can be used to develop the relationship.

Negotiation models have evolved but only slightly and with respect to how “problem” areas are represented (multi-cultural barriers, gender barriers, social theory barriers, etc.). This study represents a new take on the negotiation model by positing that identifying “problems” is the problem. One should not approach a counterpart as a problem but as a human being, as an incentive, as a possible collaborator.

Chapter 3: Methodology

Data Analysis: Approach

This phenomenological study is based on the observation of trainees responding to the phenomenon of blocked negotiations, in-depth interviews with the participants as part of a “follow-up” two months later, and an analysis of empirical results coupled with qualitative assessments of individual experiences with the phenomenon.

The researcher observes negotiations with 500 trainees who are all salespersons with various multinational corporations.

The 500 trainees were part of 37 different sessions in 13 different countries where the researcher was training negotiation skills from 2012 to 2014. These sessions numbered (or see Fig. 1):

5 in France

2 in Spain

3 in UK

4 in Switzerland

2 in Belgium

1 in Norway

6 in Finland

2 in Germany

5 in USA

2 in Colombia

2 in Mexico

1 in Argentina

2 in Singapore

Figure 1. Location of Sessions Held

The participants were salespersons from major multinational companies. The names of the corporate entities are withheld from this study for privacy concerns, but they represent the following categories: products and advertising, fragrances and flavors, and luxury items.

All of the sales representatives had anywhere from 3 to 20 years of experience in either industrial or retail sales or both.

316 of the participants were men.

184 of the participants were women.

Only 12% of the participants had received some form of negotiation training prior to the training they received during the course of this study. The training they had received was mainly from a course at a university. A few had had corporate training (during which they received very basic sales skills but not high impact negotiation skills).

Each session consisted of 2 full-time days: 16 hours total.

These sessions were followed by a coaching call of 1 hour 2 months later. It was during this coaching call that trainees were able to provide their return on practice.

The purpose of the observation is to identify recurring behaviors that block negotiations and behaviors that lead to agreements. The researcher identifies disruptive approach components in the following areas, based on his understanding of human nature, human relationships, and negotiation theory: verbal and non-verbal communication, attitude, strategies, and tools. As part of the observation/analysis process, the researcher asks the following three questions:

A. What have you experienced in terms of the phenomenon (blocked negotiation)?

B. Before receiving training with the researcher’s “High Impact Negotiation” model based on collaboration, what contexts or situations have typically influenced or affected your experiences of the phenomenon?

C. Following training in the researcher’s “High Impact Negotiation” model, what contexts or situations have typically influenced or affected your experiences of the phenomenon?

The purpose of these questions is to allow the researcher to gather data for a “structural description of the experiences” (Creswell, 2007, p. 61), consistent with the aims of phenomenological research. The aim is to be able to form a deeper, universal understanding of negotiators’ experience in blocked negotiations and how they can proceed in a successful manner. The researcher’s objective was to achieve that aim through active participation in the negotiation process (by way of training individuals) and the active learning of how those individuals responded to “difficulties” within the negotiation process. The “learning” aspect of the methodology allowed the researcher to cultivate a new model of negotiation based on what he intuited to be missing in the struggling negotiators’ approach. A description of the researcher’s attaining this intuition is found here, because it pertains the methodology he used in developing his “High Impact Negotiations” model, which became the framework for the second half of his phenomenological study.

Intuiting Solutions to Problems

The researcher’s approach to negotiating followed the structure outlined by Fisher and Ury in their seminal work Getting to Yes. For a number of years he taught negotiators how to follow the method of Principled Negotiation in order to close at target prices. What the researcher observed was exactly what Jensen (2013) observed: the method did not work. Negotiators were becoming frustrated, blocked, were losing sales, and were losing interest in negotiating at all.

The researcher conducted role playing exercises with his trainees and saw that when the buyer became obstinate over price and “pushed back” at the seller, the seller became upset as though he were being attacked and pushed back in return. This caused the buyer to want to quit the negotiation.

What could the seller do to put the buyer more at ease? The researcher saw that the negotiators were attempting to follow the four points of principled negotiation but were getting blocked by the perception of the problematic buyer. The researcher turned his attention to the buyer. Did the buyer not want to be there? Why would the buyer enter into a negotiation with a seller if he had no intention of “working” on a meeting ground with him? The researcher had to assume good will on the part of the buyer. After all, he had come to the negotiating table. That was enough. Therefore, the researcher turned his attention to the seller. What was the seller doing to cause the buyer to resist the seller’s overtures?

The first thing the researcher noticed was that the seller was asking closed questions and not giving the buyer a chance to talk. The seller wanted to show that he was in charge of the negotiation, since he had “the goods.” However, the researcher intuited, based on the literature he reviewed regarding “spiritual values” and effective leadership as well as human relationships and the evolutionary basis for mediation, that the seller should take a less demanding approach, or, rather, an approach that did not view the buyer as an adversary but instead as an equal.

To test this theory, the researcher instructed his trainees to allow the buyer to tell his side of the story, to share his perspective. The sellers spoke less. Instead, they asked one or two open-ended questions and listened. The buyer was made to feel more comfortable. He, in turn, was more willing to hear the seller’s side. Before long the two sides were working together, as they had each individually planned before coming to the table, towards a win-win situation. The researcher believed he had found the answer to what was missing in the Fisher, Ury model of negotiations. He had found the missing component: the need for Old World caritas.

As a matter of course, the four points of principled negotiation are discussed during the training, but in such a way as to “disabuse” the trainees of whatever pre-conceived notions they may have coming into the training session. Because the researcher himself trained employees in “principled negotiations” for a number of years before adopting the current method of negotiation, he takes this opportunity to discuss with his trainees his reasons for adopting the new collaboration-based model.

The research questions are used as a way to verify the researchers pre-existing conviction that the Harvard-celebrated, Fisher, Ury model of negotiation is flawed because it views people as having “problems,” which is a negative way to view the negotiation process.

As part of the “disabusing” process, the researcher conducts his seminar with the following secondary questions in mind:

1. How does one respond to difficult negotiations?

a. Does the individual separate the people from the problem?

b. Does the individual focus on interests, not positions?

c. Does the individual invent options for mutual gain?

d. Does the individual insist on using objective criteria?

2. What are the common characteristics of a successful negotiator?

a. What are the common features that work across cultures?

b. What are the features that do not work across cultures?

These secondary questions allow the researcher to keep the focus of the study on the impact of the new model of negotiation, while retaining some connective points to the Fisher, Ury model to serve as comparison. Only 12% of the trainees coming into the seminar have had any previous training in negotiations. Observations are made of all the trainees’ approaches to negotiations, both before and after the researcher’s model is introduced. The observations and their qualitative and quantitative analyses are gathered and used to show the rate of successful negotiations for negotiators who use the researcher’s collaboration-based model and the rate of successful negotiations for negotiators who use the Fisher, Ury model, or some variation of that model.

The researcher trained negotiators in Principled Negotiation for 11/2 years.

The researcher trained negotiators in his new “High Impact Negotiations” model for 11/2 years.

The study sample consists of 500 trainees with little to no knowledge of how to negotiate. After implementing the Fisher, Ury model with little to no success, the researcher adopted his new model with resounding success.

No Closed Questions — Only Open-Ended Questions

After observing trainees ask closed questions, which merely projected their own thoughts, feelings and impressions on the counterpart, the researcher noted that these trainees often became flustered, frustrated, upset, despondent, and in general “blocked” in their negotiations during negotiation exercises. Thus, the researcher moved towards an approach that forbade closed questions and allowed only open-ended questions, which forced the trainee to listen more than speak.

By asking only closed questions, the negotiator imagines that he maintains control of the conversation and allows himself a better opportunity to withhold judgment of the counterpart. However, in reality, he has already judged the counterpart and removed himself from the loop or “equation.” If a negotiation is like forming a relationship, or establishing a connection, or initiating a collaboration, to remove oneself from this is to block the process. The negotiator wants to ask closed questions because he only wants “facts” not individual impressions or ideas or thoughts or feelings from the counterpart. He wants to keep it “short and sweet.” This is a negative approach. Open-ended questions, on the other hand, call for longer, more personal responses. They require the negotiator to listen, to empathize, to accept. Even if a negotiator feels himself to be objective, there is a high chance that he will still make a subjective criticism or judgment of the counterpart by projecting an image through closed questioning (a process of information gathering which also causes the negotiator to talk more than listen). To protect oneself against making superficial or rash judgments and to give the counterpart the benefit of the doubt, open-ended questions are used to pull the counterpart into the negotiation and to initiate a steady stream of ideas from both sides of the table so that a true collaboration can start and a healthy, positive relationship to be formed.

The reason the researcher believes this method to work is based the evolutionary theory of Kruglanski and Stroebe (2012). The human “reptilian brain” is what protects people from aggression. If someone is contradicted, the “reptilian brain” instinctively goes into “survival mode.” This is readily seen in negotiations: the brain becomes defensive and wants to “push back” when the counterpart pushes forward. Much like taming a wild horse, the researcher believes that the non-resistant approach will work “wonders.”

Educating the Trainees to Educate Their Negotiating Counterparts

This researcher discovered throughout the course of his training exercises the importance of encouraging negotiators to “educate” their counterparts. This step follows the Holmes (2007) model of sales in that when offering free education, the target is compelled to move closer to the salesperson and identify the foundation for building a solid relationship. Good education shows good will, determination, a desire for truth, and concern for the “other.” Thus, rather than encouraging the negotiators to “compromise” with their counterparts, this researcher suggested that the negotiators “educate” them. This manner of negotiation is consistent with the resolve to ask only open-ended questions, which at first requires the negotiator to listen to his counterpart, but then encourages the counterpart to listen to the negotiator. As both sides listen and accept what the other is saying, the opportunity to “judge” the counterpart and thereby block the relationship disappears.

That is why the second step in “educating,” is listening and allowing oneself to be educated. By listening the negotiator is able to gather ideas about the counterpart and identify ways in which collaboration can occur.

Instructing Trainees on the “Principle” of High Impact Negotiating

The main technique used in the training exercises was to role play tough negotiations, with the buyer pushing back on price. This technique was used for both halves of the research study — the first, in which the Principled Negotiation model alone was used; and the second, in which the Principled Negotiation framework was used, but with the researcher’s own “High Impact Negotiations” model applied in order to assist negotiators in tough negotiations.

The first half of the study consisted in observing the behaviors of the trainees to the phenomenon of blocked negotiations. The second half of the study consisted of taking the data gleaned from the first half and applying it to overcoming the obstacles present.

As part of the learning and training process, the negotiator offered several anecdotal stories for illustrative purposes. These illustrations were sometimes accompanied by mixed media presentations, such as the showing of a film or the viewing of a recorded negotiation.

The technique for training negotiations evolved over the years. The researcher began by using the Principled Negotiations model of negotiation, but this model failed to produce the desired effects for his trainees. The researcher, through observations and intuitions, and through a deeper understanding of his own illustrative samples, was able to formulate a new model of negotiation. The following negotiation analysis sample is just one sample of several exercises that allowed the researcher to come to a deeper understanding of negotiation theory.

The main purpose of this training exercise was to teach trainees to ask only open-ended questions and to not judge the counterpart so that a true collaborative spirit could be established.

Teaching the Principle of “High Impact Negotiations” through Negotiation Analysis: An Illustrative Exercise

To explain to the trainees the fundamental principle of high impact negotiating the researcher used alternating illustrative samples. The following illustrative sample is one of several different examples that the researcher gave to his trainees over the years. In this example, the trainer provided a negotiation analysis of the film Lilies of the Field, after viewing the film with trainees, to show how it is, in effect, a negotiation of power between two strong-willed individuals, Homer Smith and Mother Maria, both of whom get (by way of eventual collaboration) what they want in the end.

The synopsis of Lilies of the Field is that of the basic, “fish out of water” story: an African-American itinerant worker named Homer Smith is driving alone through the southwestern United States. He pulls off the main road, where he is weary from driving and stops at a poor farm. Only there to acquire some water for his overheating car, he meets a group of East-European nuns, who run the farm but can barely speak English or maintain their domestic situation. The mother superior, named Mother Maria, wants Homer to stay and help them with the work on the farm. She believes that God has sent him to do just that. Homer initially refuses the request but then decides he could stand to earn a few dollars for a day’s labor so changes his mind and gladly offers his services. At the end of the day, he makes out a bill, but Mother Maria disregards it and asks why he is in such a hurry. This is an open-ended question, but Homer lets Maria off the hook easily. He responds with a short phrase — that he is hungry — and puts the “ball” back in Maria’s court to see what she will do. She maintains her thoughtfulness, shows that she is listening, and offers this piece of wisdom to Homer: “We were not put on the earth to hurry, Shmidt.” She takes the bill he has extended to her, puts it in her pocket and says, “For supper I ring the bell.” The negotiation is closed. She is giving Homer what he wants (food) and she is promising to pay his wages. However, she does not say when she will pay the wages. She plans to keep Homer there a little while longer. So he has gotten what he wants and Maria has gotten what she wants. Through a series of similar confrontations, Mother Maria manages to get Homer to build a chapel, and Homer manages to get the respect he wants and deserves. This is how the collaboration is introduced.

Set in an Arizona desert, the negotiation is between Homer Smith and Mother Maria. The two characters are very similar, even though they are strikingly different in regard to gender, ethnicity, and religious disposition. Beyond these acknowledged differences, however, lie some similarities: both, for instance, are outsiders in a white, Protestant, American landscape: Homer is African-American and Mother Maria is Eastern European with a strong accent and little English. Homer is nomadic, dynamic, restless, but good-natured, capable, intelligent, and fair. Maria is controlling, passionate, devout, exiled from her native country, but (like Smith) good-natured, intelligent, and ambitious. While Smith has a modicum of foresight, Mother Maria places all her trust in God and His Providence. Both share knowledge of Scripture, but Smith is a Protestant from the Bible Belt and Mother Maria, of course, is a Catholic. When it comes to religion, she appears to have the upper hand, but when it comes to acts of kindness Smith shows his power.

The other sisters act as minor players in the negotiation, as do some of the folk from town, such as the owner of the diner, the priest, a construction contractor, and a handful of Mexicans. Even God Himself appears to act as a third party power. Each becomes a participant in the negotiation of power between Smith and Mother Maria as she tries to get her chapel built and Smith tries to get what he wants, which is initially his pay but gradually turns into respect, satisfaction, self-esteem and thanks.

Because Smith’s arrival is unexpected, there is no planning on either side. Mother Maria’s tactics are dependent upon what she believes to be Smith’s weakness, which is his poverty and ignorance of her own manipulative methods. Smith’s strengths, however, are in his kindness (which she at first exploits, until he promptly walks away). By returning to illustrate his good will he is able to turn the tables on the townspeople, the priest, the contractor, and Mother Maria. His impulsive, pleasant, personable and charismatic ways are also a boon. In this instance, Smith illustrates the principle of “high impact negotiating” — which is deference for the “other.” Throughout the story, Homer is always the one who listens most. And by listening to others, he learns all there is to know and, in turn, becomes well-liked and seemingly indispensable.

However, it first turns out that Mother Maria has the upper hand on the negotiation. Smith is duped into spending the night (Mother Maria runs off to bed before Homer can oblige her to pay his wages), and then he is guilted into another day’s work before he can get away (he sees the poor sisters trying to fix a fence, takes pity on them, and delays his setting off and fixes the fence for them). Mother Maria sees this and that her plan is working. She is calculating how to keep Homer there just a little while longer. She plays to Homer’s pride and allows him the pleasure of a hard day’s recreation (singing with the sisters and playing music — things that would ordinarily not be tolerated on the farm full of nuns). During these interactions, Mother Maria to wield all the power, but it is only because Homer allows her to do so. At any moment he can leave: but the truth is that he is somewhat drawn to the place, its remoteness, the spiritual side of the sisters, even Mother Maria herself, who, though she is so different from Homer, actually has much in common with him underneath the surface.

The negotiation of power tips back in Smith’s favor when at the dinner table, one evening, he decides to help the sisters speak better English. His power level rises as he begins to instruct them with good cheer and enthusiasm. He is educating them, which is a core part of the Holmes model of the ultimate sales machine. By educating them, he wins their love and respect. The night ends with everyone in good spirits and Smith confident that he will be paid in the morning and given a decent farewell. The next day, however, Mother Maria “pushes back” and scolds him for sleeping all morning. This unexpected assault on his “laziness” throws him off balance and again he finds himself at her mercy. She provides a measly breakfast and then shows him the chapel project and the heavy beams and her design. He is thoughtful for a brief moment, but when she presumes that he will help, he immediately bows out and attempts to give his/her bill so that he can be on his way. She turns her back to him, and he turns his back on her, and the bill is held lifelessly between them. Her trick for leverage has worked, however: she has mocked his manliness and said, fine, the sisters will move the heavy beams themselves. Smith’s pride is pricked and his innate goodness is touched and he says, grudgingly, that he will clear it out. At this time he also reveals an interest in the work, as he keeps at it all day long without complaint — despite the fact that it is obviously tiring. Homer and Mother Maria have taken the first step in a collaboration.

The communication processes are not aided by the language barrier between the two, but Mother Maria is able to turn the barrier to her advantage by saying little and letting Smith infer what he likes. Here, she exploits his good nature, by allowing him to think that he will be paid for his labor. Again, the day ends with dinner and another English lesson. Smith has made out another bill and offers it once more to Mother Maria, but she pretends not to understand: “I speak English not so good.” She is feigning ignorance in order to block the communication process.

This time, however, Smith will not be blocked. He begins the persuasive process. His persuasive tactic is to quote from the Bible. He believes that he is using her own faith to induce her to pay him. He states, “Book of Luke, chapter ten, verse seven…The laborer is worthy of his hire.” But Biblical verses are not foreign to her, even if English is. She quickly one-ups him by appealing to Proverbs and then Matthew 6:28-29: “…Consider the lilies of the field.” He accepts that his persuasive tactic has failed — but she is not willing just to defeat him at Biblical sparring: she wants a chapel built. She tells him tomorrow is Sunday, and that he will drive the sisters to Mass.

Again, Mother Maria is using a shock and awe tactic: Smith has not bet on her audacity. He slaps the table and cries, “Dammit, you ain’t got me!” She pretends to be scandalized by his cursing, gasps, and makes the sign of the cross. Again, he is defeated, unable to ward off the spiritual authority she seems to wield. The sign of the cross also acts as a scare tactic on his Baptist sensibilities. She exits, confirming his role as chauffer the next day, and he slumps into the chair and slowly tears his bill in two. She clearly has the advantage in the power process.

The next morning, however, Smith appears bright and sunny, polishing the car door as he holds it open for the mother superior and the rest of the nuns. Clearly he has not been defeated; on the contrary, he seems to derive enjoyment from humoring the mother superior and her nuns. He drives them to Mass but refuses to take part in their ceremony. He asserts his own free will in an attempt to tilt the power balance back in his favor: he is letting Mother Maria know that she has no control over him and that he is only helping her out of the goodness of his own heart.

At this point, the social contextual process begins to affect the negotiation. Smith gets the perspective of the diner owner and the priest and sees the life of the sisters outside the farm. His sense of compassion is touched, and Smith enters into a stage of negotiation with himself, which happens in the following manner:

While the Mass is said in the parking lot of a diner, Smith eats his breakfast in the diner and learns more information about the sisters. What he learns prompts him to sympathize with them again and he purchases a pie for them. Even so, he informs the owner of the diner that he is “just passing through.”

After Mass, Mother Maria attempts to draw Smith back into her power by introducing him to the priest. But even the priest has no confidence in Mother Maria’s schemes and tells him of his own disillusionment. Smith is embarrassed during the interview, because his innate goodness is actually compelling him to consider the project of building the chapel. Not only this, but his pride is also becoming involved. Still, he tells the priest he has “other fish to fry,” and that he is “only passing through.” The priest says that he thinks it is probably for the best and the interview ends. But it is a contemplative Smith who leaves the priest’s trailer.

Back at the farm, it is a lazy Sunday afternoon. Smith decides to bond with the sisters by teaching them how to sing a Southern Gospel song and everyone has a good time. Mother Maria allows it even if she maintains a look of suspicion. If Smith is in a good humor, it can’t be bad.

However, the social contextual process is not complete, yet. Smith is still adamant about leaving. Mother Maria learns which direction he is heading and tells Smith that she and another sister will go too since they have business in that direction. Smith agrees only on the condition that they take the bus back. She accepts. Their destination is Ashton’s construction. It is Ashton himself who provides the final straw that breaks the camel’s back. In other words, Ashton’s crude intervention prompts Smith to finally join forces with Mother Maria. Smith sees that both he and Mother Maria are treated in the same fashion by the proud Ashton — and to take power away from Ashton he will join forces with his rival Mother Maria. This power struggle happens this way:

Smith admires the earth moving equipment while Mother Maria speaks to the contractor Ashton. Ashton goes out to speak with Smith, shaking his head in wonderment at how he ever let himself get mixed up with the mother superior. Ashton also makes the mistake of calling Smith, “Boy,” and speaking to him in a belittling manner of the nun and her plan to build a chapel. Smith’s pride is stung and as the contractor turns, Smith calls to him, “Hey, Boy!” The contractor now realizes that he too has been drawn into a power negotiation. Smith offers himself for two days a week on the earth moving equipment, and Ashton asks why only two: Smith tells him he’ll be building a chapel the other five. Ashton agrees despite himself, perturbed with himself that he has been sucked into more of Mother Maria’s shenanigans.

Mother Maria, however, realizes that Smith has allied himself with her, and she begins her own power grab: she pretends to be heading toward the bus. Now it is not Smith who is abandoning her, but she who is abandoning Smith. Smith stops, embarrassed that she might cause him to lose face in front of Ashton, and tells her to get in the car. Mother Maria is not absurd: she does as she is told, and has also tipped the balance scale slightly in her favor once more.

The social contextual process has, essentially, brought down all the barriers that existed between Mother Maria’s will and Smith’s will. Now their two wills are united in a spirit of collaboration — even if their motivation is not the same. Smith wants self-respect and to hold onto his pride. Mother Maria simply wants a chapel. Both have learned that they can get what they want by working together.

However, the project does not proceed as easily as that. Now a formidable third party intervenes that can only be described as the will of God. Providence will test Smith’s commitment to the project and his true reasons for taking it on. Providence will also test Mother Maria’s faith. This begins the ultimate third party process, which involves the individual differences effects, the power processes, ethical considerations and international aspects. In this final ultimate third party process — directed by none other than God Himself, the negotiation is worked to a compromise, and all parties and processes and engaged.

Back at the farm, Mother Maria now offers Smith some encouraging words. Feeling that she is finally going to get what she (and God) wants, she says, “We can do it, Shmidt.” Smith is not in disagreement — but he is now using his foresight to see that not everything is in place. In other words, they have a plan, they have labor, but they don’t have materials. Mother Maria insists that God will supply the materials — but Smith does not share the same faith. He agrees to set to work, but as materials dwindle and work stops, so too does Smith’s patience. Mother Maria sets to praying that God be a good third party participant and supply Smith with the materials he needs, but God appears to have more in mind than supplying Smith with the materials he needs. God also seems to want to supply Smith and Mother Maria with a little humility. Even though God is a silent third party participant, he will move the wills of others to act in accordance with His plan, which apparently is as Mother Maria has always known — to build a chapel.

The process is begun this way: Smith runs out of materials and spends more time driving for Ashton. Mother Maria has written to everyone asking for donations, but no one, not even Ashton, is willing to help. Smith meanwhile buys groceries for the sisters — but receives no thanks from Mother Maria. She is upset that he spends all his time working for Ashton instead of helping out around the farm. He rejoins that he only has a contract with her to build a chapel, not plant trees and sweep up. He is angry that she never says thank you and cannot accept anything without making him feel small. He begins to feel like a “Boy” again. She insists that God will come through and mocks his hurt feelings. He does not believe in the efficacy of her prayers and essentially calls her a fake and questions her ethics. Their individual differences are being forced out.

She, of course, is riled to indignation and cries, “Who are you not to believe me?” And recounts all the struggles she and her nuns have had to endure since leaving Eastern Europe. Smith now feels even smaller for having insulted her, but when she insists that the chapel will be built, he says, fine, but it will be done without him — and he leaves. Throughout the entire negotiation, the third party presence of God has hung in the background, as though an invisible participant in the negotiation, silently waiting for His opportunity to speak. It is only now, when Smith has gone, that He does begin to speak — and He does so through the consciences of all the players, whether Smith, Mother Maria, or the townspeople.

Weeks go by, the sisters walk to Mass, and Mother Maria continues to pray. Even she is being humbled. Then one Sunday morning, her prayers are answered: as the nuns walk the dusty miles to Mass, Smith re-appears over the horizon. He apparently has just come back from a binge. He is wearing dark glasses and is hung over — but he picks the sisters up and takes them on to Mass. In thanks for his return, Mother Maria does not urge him to attend Mass but tells him to go have a good breakfast in the diner. Ironically, Smith has no stomach for breakfast. But everyone in the town is amazed at his return, even the diner owner. When they ask to know if he is staying for good, the diner owner takes it upon himself to say, “Yes…to make them happy.”

Indeed, they are all affected by his good will and generosity in returning, and now they begin to offer supplies and materials for the chapel — even, in fact, their own time and labor. The conflict is now resolved — or so it seems. Actually, with the conclusion of the conflict of material shortage, a new conflict arises and this one is solely confined within the heart of Smith. As more and more people want to help, even Ashton, who is visibly moved by the spirit he sees in all the townspeople now working on Mother Maria’s chapel, Smith begins to feel as though he has lost control of the job. He had prided himself on building the chapel alone. But now as it appears to be not only his chapel but the whole town’s chapel, he loses heart. However, the people need a leader. They cannot understand Mother Maria’s directions and she cannot understand their language. Smith is compelled to intervene not for his own sake or for Mother Maria’s sake but for the sake of the job itself. Smith bridges the international aspect of the job. Now completion of the chapel alone is all that matters — as though it were being completed for its own sake, or to be more exact, for God’s sake. Now with Smith back at the helm and back in control, everyone can take satisfaction in the building of the chapel. With Smith in power, the chapel is built correctly and to plan and everyone is happy.

However, the night before Mass is to be said in the chapel, Mother Maria comes to Smith with a list of things that still need to be done — or so she thinks. Smith tells her that everything is already completed and that there is no more to do. Yet Smith looks unfulfilled. He is moody and disinterested in Mother Maria’s negotiation for power. Smith knows that both he and she have won: he has earned the respect of Ashton and the whole community and she has got her chapel for God. Yet, it seems to appear before his eyes that his proper place lies back out on the open road. He is, after all, a wandering man. Smith says to Mother Maria, “I done builded you a shapel.” She responds, “You builded me a chapel.” He answers, “Correction. Zank you.” She responds, “Thank you…a-ah.” He smiles upon finally receiving his thanks from her — even though she gave it unwittingly. They strike up one last final Southern Gospel hymn and he sneaks out the door while all the nuns sing “A-men!” Mother Maria does not chase after him but lets him leave. This is their compromise, and the power negotiation is over: both have gotten what they wanted.

Smith becomes a conduit between the sisters on the farm and the people of the town. By perceiving his actions as good will, the townspeople are inspired to help out and Mother Maria’s chapel on the farm becomes a home for her fellow Catholics. Smith is offered a job as foreman by the contractor and his social status is elevated, even though in the end he returns to his wandering ways.

Throughout the negotiation between Mother Maria and Smith, the power balance has tipped both ways, first to Mother Maria and then to Smith. When Smith walks out on the nuns, he appears to take all the power with him. However, she has a third party protector in God, to whom she appeals. God apparently moves the conscience of Smith to return to the sisters, despite not having any materials. But Smith’s return seems to move the consciences of all the townspeople who have also denied Mother Maria. Now the donations poor in and everyone begins to help. The third party protector, the Providential guide, Who sent Smith to the farm in the first place, should perhaps not even be considered a third party participant at all — after all, God is getting His chapel.

In this light, one may consider Lilies of the Field to be a power struggle between God and His servants, whether Smith, the priest, the townspeople, or the sisters. In the end, while Mother Maria and Smith are forced to compromise (he gets an unwitting thanks and she lets him go), God alone gets what He wants — a chapel. In the final analysis, it may be said that the power balance ultimately tips in God’s favor, even as He lets his creations go about their business as they please.

However, the power struggle between Mother Maria and Smith, since it was spontaneous and extemporary, was largely conducted as well as possible on both sides. Both Smith and Mother Maria gained advantages as the balance tipped one way and then another — until finally it appeared that they could both get what they want by doing “God’s will.” The only directly human intervention that occurs that could be called “damage control” is performed by the owner of the diner, when he says to the people that Smith is back for good. The owner seems to see that what the people need, including Smith, the mother superior and he himself need, is some sign of humility and giving. He, therefore, voluntarily takes it upon himself to confirm Smith’s goodwill — which, in turn, saves the day for the chapel by inspiring others to pitch in to help see the project to completion.

The only problem in the end is the compromise that Smith and Mother Maria effect. Smith appears to be unhappy not so much because he has not received Mother Maria’s thanks yet (after all, he has won the respect of Ashton and the love of everyone else), but rather what makes him unhappy is that the job is finally completed and he knows he is going to go back to being a drifter. His pride will not let him settle down and become a regular handyman on the farm. In this sense, it appears that even though Smith wins a compromise with Mother Maria, he actually loses in the negotiation with himself: his pride wins out ultimately and he departs for a life on the road, when it appears all too obvious that a happier and more rewarding life could have been his on the farm — or at least in the town.

In conclusion, Lilies of the Field is the tale of a negotiation between the wandering handyman Homer Smith and Mother Maria, the mother superior of a group of expatriate nuns. Mother Maria negotiates for a chapel, while Smith negotiates initially for pay and then for respect. Both ultimately get what they want, thanks to third party intervention from God Himself, working largely through the conscience of Smith and the townspeople. Both Mother Maria and Smith are, however, humbled to a certain extent — although each retains his and her pride at the end of the negotiation when a compromise is finally reached. Faith is restored in many people in the town, as well, and God seems to be the true winner in the negotiation, allowing his servants to have their own small victories. Homer Smith leaves the farm to pursue his own interests and Mother Maria accepts his resignation calmly — and God lets them both continue to work out their salvation, perhaps, one step at a time.

High Impact Model of Negotiation

Based on the theory of Reave (2005) wherein there is a “clear consistency between spiritual values…and effective leadership,” the value of “grace” as depicted in Lilies of the Field is apparent for the negotiation trainee. “Grace” is akin to humility, which allows true objectivity. It is such true objectivity that this researcher’s model aims to give. The way it does so is through the inculcation of the “spirit of collaboration” which is based on being “open” to the other. It is this lesson that the trainer desires to impart to his trainees.

Following the training exercise in which an illustrative example is provided the trainees, as the one above, the trainer then repeats his method of “High Impact Negotiations,” emphasizing the need to ask open-ended questions, to listen, accept and integrate what is being said by the counterpart into a process of collaboration.

The researcher then asks the trainees to role play in difficult negotiations where the buyer pushes back on price.

The framework for these negotiations remained that of the Fisher, Ury model. The main points were: Practice good communication techniques (such as active listening), good positioning techniques (such as opening, targeting, and walking away), and building win-win outcomes (by taking into account the needs and values of each party). This is essentially the Principled Negotiations framework used by the researcher; however, because of the results, which are observed in the next chapter, the researcher intuited that its limitations had to be removed before his trainees could truly succeed.

The researcher developed the “High Impact Model” based on the intuition that the negotiators were not really willing to “listen” to the counterpart based solely on the method of Fisher and Ury. Instead they were seeking only to project their own wants and needs, which closed them off from the “other” and essentially blocked the negotiation. Because they could not see that they themselves were blocking the negotiation, they blamed the “other” for being a difficult person by not accepting the trainee’s wants or needs. The researcher, to correct this attitude, forbade closed questioning and allowed the trainees to ask only open-ended questions, which forced them to listen to the counterpart’s needs and wants. This placed the negotiator in a more likeable position, as he now appeared to care about what the counterpart had to say. The fundamental flaw of the Principled Negotiations model was that it did not emphasize first and foremost the need to listen, to accept, to integrate and to judge not. The moral of the story of Lilies of the Field was “judge not lest ye be judged” — and all who are judged are found wanting. For a negotiation to work, the negotiator — so the researcher discovered — had to refrain from judging. This was the main point of the “high impact negotiating.”

Data Collection Method: Active Participation and Interviews with Participants

Data collection was done in two ways.

The first method of collecting data was through active participation in the training of the individual negotiators. This gave the researcher the necessary experience to form intuitive judgments regarding the real-world efficacy of the principled negotiations model.

The second method of collecting data was through passive reception of the results of his training exercise in the 2 months that passed following the completion of the training sessions, at which time the trainees shared their successes and/or failures with the trainer in an hour long coaching call.

Why This Approach

The phenomenological approach combines quantitative and qualitative analysis (Fisher, Stenner, 2010), as is seen in this researcher’s study. Such an approach allows for a wider range of follow-up studies and can appeal to a broader research base. As the “basic purpose of phenomenology is to reduce individual experiences with a phenomenon to a description of the universal essence” (Creswell, 2007, p. 58), this study records the experiences of participants as they respond to the phenomenon of “blocked negotiations” under the two different models of negotiation.

The broader philosophical assumptions at play here are, first of all the notion of the existence of universals. Second of all is the notion that the majority of individuals fail to be as objective as they think they are being. As human nature has been defined in the modern era to be more subjective than objective, it is understandable that it should need guidance and practice in regaining objectivity. That is the goal of this training as well.

Data Sources Rights of the Participants

The nature of this study does not require the disclosure of names or identities. It is primarily based upon the researcher’s own intuitive observations and is not representative of any individual or group of people, business, or corporate entity. Participant responses are part of standard operating procedure within the trainee/trainer relationship.

Legal Issues

The researcher can foresee no legal issues pertaining to this study. Data disclosure agreements are signed prior to the start of training. Participants remain anonymous throughout the study.


The methodology used in this study is based on a phenomenological approach to negotiations. The phenomenon under observance is negotiators’ responses to blocked negotiations.

Observations are recorded over the span of three years and involve 500 participants in 37 different training sessions of 16 hours each. A follow-up coaching call takes place 2 months later at which time results and personal experiences of the trainees are shared with the trainer.

The training exercises at first consisted of teaching only the tactics of principled negotiation, but these tactics failed to help negotiators close deals at target prices. Individuals became frustrated when negotiations became blocked.

The researcher developed a new method meant to assist negotiators in overcoming the blocked negotiation. This was applied, or grafted onto, the model of principled negotiation. Its core teaching was to ask open-ended questions so as to inculcate a spirit of collaboration and bring the counterpart into the relationship.

This technique was coupled with illustrative examples of how a negotiation should take place and role playing exercises were conducted to reinforce the technique of the new method. The illustrative examples were used primarily to reinforce the principle of High Impact Negotiating. That principle was founded on the two-fold notion of, first, the “reptilian brain” which attacks to survive (this is to be discouraged), and, second, the spirit of collaboration, which is based on respect for the “other.”

Follow-up calls were held 2 months after the conclusion of the 2-day sessions. During these calls, trainees gave feedback to the researcher on whether or not their training had provided them with the tools to succeed at negotiations in real-world settings.

Chapter 4: Results


In general, observed behaviors in blocked negotiations across the entire sample consisted of:

Negative thinking: it’s difficult, there is an economic crisis, etc.

Superiority complex: they don’t understand anything, they want to get discounts but we are the best, we have quality, etc.

Inferiority complex: they only buy if we lower our price and we can’t; or: we have the most expensive product so no one wants to buy from us

Non-verbals: fidgeting, playing with pen, taking notes, showing impatience, raising voice

Expressions: we can’t do that, it’s impossible, we will not accept

It was observed that the sales representatives had a very poor fundamental approach when the Principled Negotiations model was used a framework. It became clear to the researcher that the “spirit” of the model was flawed in that it viewed counterparts as “problematic” simply because their views or approach was dissimilar to the negotiators.

All of the trainees made the same basic mistakes resulting in blocked negotiations, when using the Principled Negotiations framework. These mistakes were observed and tallied according to percentages:

Figure 1a. The percentage of participant reactions to the phenomenon of blocked negotiations when using the Fisher, Ury model of Principled Negotiations only.

As Fig. 1a. shows, out of every 100 participants, for the year 2012, more than 80% of them (male and female) engaged in negative thinking. Negative thinking included anything that gave the seller a reason or justification for why the negotiation was not going well. In these instances, the seller saw the buyer as problematic rather than as an opportunity, and used “negative thinking” in order to rationalize his or her failure in the negotiation.

76% of participants in that year suffered from a superiority complex, while 62% suffered from an inferiority complex. These two figures were possible because, as the researcher observed, oftentimes sellers would swing from one complex to the other, feeling superior when they thought they had “control” of the negotiation and feeling inferior when they realized they did not. Signs of superiority complexes were evident in the visible ways the seller thought of the “other” and of him or her self. Dismissive attitudes, condescending remarks/beliefs, an exaggerated sense of self-worth were taken as signs of this complex. On the other hand, when these “props” failed, the seller swung to the opposite extreme by complaining that though his company was the best, the fact of the matter was that the excellent quality made the price too high so that no one wanted to buy it; therefore there was nothing he or she could do about it; selling was impossible. Sellers would exhibit signs of both of these characteristics within a single session.

72% of sellers showed non-verbal expressions from which the researcher inferred a feeling of frustration and unease. These expressions consisted of foot-tapping, playing with pens or pencils, avoiding eye contact, taking notes, using an aggressive tone, or raising the voice.

93% of sellers used verbal expressions to indicate their frustration: these consisted of phrases such as, “Not possible,” or, “They won’t allow us to meet that demand,” or, “You’re asking for too much,” or, “Never going to happen,” or, “You’ve been misinformed about us if you think we can drop to that level.”

These indicators were enough in and of themselves to alert the researcher to a fundamental limitation of the Principled Negotiations technique. The results of the follow-up coaching call confirmed what the researcher suspected was going to happen.

The Follow-Up Coaching Call

For three years, from 2012 to 2014, every training session was followed by a 1 hour coaching call 2 months later, during which the researcher was able to receive feedback from the trainees as to the real-world effectiveness of tools he had taught them.

The first year was primarily spent teaching the method of principled negotiation. That method was continued into 2013, but because of the repeated negative feedback from trainees during follow-up coaching calls, the research adopted a new method.

Fig. 2. describes the results as gathered from trainees during coaching calls from 2012 to mid-2013 when the researcher ceased teaching ONLY the model of principled negotiation.

Figure 2. The success rate for participant negotiators using the Fisher, Ury model of Principled Negotiations in real-world negotiations.

As Fig. 2. shows:

18% of trainees reported closing deals with the set target in real-world negotiations

57% reported closing deals at a price lower than their target

16% reported closing deals at their walk-away price

9% reported not closing the deal

These statistics gathered from coaching calls 2 months after the researcher’s trainees had spent that time in the field, along with the observations the researcher had made during training, prompted him to formulate a new method of negotiation. He relied on the following data collected during the 2012-2013 training sessions:

In the role play scenarios in which the Principled Negotiations model alone was applied (without training in the researcher’s new method), the following results were shown:

92% of “buyers” pushed back by justifying their price

8% would ask a question before pushing back

So they all push by justifying, sooner or later

89% remained on the topic of price

11% went back to the product/service

94% became defensive, saying their management would not accept

6% said they would discuss with management

100% of trainees asked more closed questions than open questions

100% used negative terms throughout the negotiation (“we cannot,” “it is not possible,” “you can’t ask that,” “that’s out of the question,” “we never said we could do that,” “that is not the way things work,” etc.)

100% of negotiators talked more than the buyer

100% believed they cannot get out of a blocked situation

Figure 2a. Negotiators’ reactions, part 1.

Figure 2b. Negotiators’ reactions, part 2.

Personal feelings and attitudes as observed by the researcher during coaching calls following training sessions ranged from dissatisfaction to frustration. Less than a fifth of all trainees were able to meet their target price at closing. Their experiences, as related to the researcher, were repetitions of the same blocked negotiation exercises conducted during the training sessions, yet without the obviously wished-for conclusion. The results were not satisfactory.

The statistics revealed a dismal success rate for trainees using principled negotiation tactics. It was this dismal success rate that prompted the trainer to adopt a different approach to negotiations.

This prompt was developed by asking the research questions stated in Chapter 1.

They are repeated here:

A. What have you experienced in terms of the phenomenon (blocked negotiation)?

B. Before receiving training with the researcher’s “High Impact Negotiation” model based on collaboration, what contexts or situations have typically influenced or affected your experiences of the phenomenon?

C. Following training in the researcher’s “High Impact Negotiation” model, what contexts or situations have typically influenced or affected your experiences of the phenomenon?

To question A during the first year and a half of training using the principled negotiations model, respondents reported experiencing “fatigue,” “anxiety,” “self-doubt,” “helplessness,” “anger,” “frustration,” and “dislike” for the “difficult person” (i.e., the counterpart).

To question B, the respondents answered that during negotiations, they were primarily affected by the way that the counterpart asserted him or herself throughout the negotiation process. No matter what the trainee did or said, the “difficult person” continued to be difficult — and acted as though the trainee were the one being “difficult.” The respondents almost overwhelmingly admitted that the negotiations fell apart when he or she attempted to “rope” the counterpart into a compromise that neither seemed very happy with, but which the negotiator placed on the table in order to attempt to close the negotiation. When pressed for specific details regarding this “roping” process, it became clear that the trainees were engaging the counterpart through the repetition of open-ended questions, which led to seemingly endless arguments, perceived bitterness, signs of “shutting down,” and either pushing too hard or “giving up.” In the majority of such cases, the trainee blamed the counterpart for “just being a difficult person.”

Based on these results, the researcher intuited that something was wrong with principled negotiations approach. The researcher had trained these negotiators, step-by-step, in the principled negotiation model, yet principled negotiations failed to achieve the desired objective. The researcher turned to the secondary questions, posed in Chapter 1. They are repeated here:

1. How does one respond to difficult negotiations?

a. Does the individual separate the people from the problem?

b. Does the individual focus on interests, not positions?

c. Does the individual invent options for mutual gain?

d. Does the individual insist on using objective criteria?

2. What are the common characteristics of a successful negotiator?

a. What are the common features that work across cultures?

b. What are the features that do not work across cultures?

To secondary question 1a, the researcher had observed that the trainees were attempting to separate the individual from the problem but that doing so was not “solving” the problem. It remained, and so too did the counterpart. Apparently, separating the person from the problem was not helpful.

To question 1b, the researcher had observed that in spite of what they were taught to do, the trainees could not focus on interests solely. They continued to focus on positions as well. This appeared to be a result of their inability to view the counterpart as anything other than problematic.

In response to 1c, the researcher observed that trainees would invent options for mutual gain, but that when shared with the counterpart they appeared to not be feasible. It appeared the majority of the trainees that in these blocked negotiations, the counterpart simply refused to work together with the negotiator. When asked what they meant by “work together,” trainees responded that the counterpart simply “refused to accept the conditions for mutual gain” that the trainee offered. The researcher concluded that this was not in reality a good example of “working together,” but rather an example of trainees drafting conditions and expecting the “other” to accept them. There was, in short, no spirit of collaboration. When this was pointed out, the trainees responded that they were not there to collaborate but to try to effect a compromise. This caused the researcher to reflect on why that was. It appeared that the principled negotiations model did not promote negotiation as an exercise in collaboration but rather as an exercise in stiff compromise. The fourth point, which follows, confirmed this.

Responses to 1d showed that trainees counted on an objective standard, i.e., an outside judge or rule, to support the mediation. But because of both parties’ tendency to subjectivity, they could not agree on the merits of the objective standard. There was no meeting ground or seeing of eye-to-eye. The negotiators met in a spirit of mutual distrust, attempted a stiff compromise that satisfied neither, until eventually the majority of trainees closed below their target price simply to get out of the negotiation. At the end of the day, the majority had disliked their job as a negotiator and did not look forward to returning to it.

The researcher now turned to the second secondary question. He asked how it was that the handful of successful trainees who had closed at their target price had managed to do so? Across cultures, the overwhelming response was that the trainees had kept negotiations open and free, so that both parties were happy to speak to one another and form a working relationship. The researcher compared this approach to that of the blocked negotiators, whose negotiations appeared to drag on, with both sides repeating themselves, until there was no point in saying any more. These blocked negotiations were marked by features all stemming from closed questions which resulted in the negotiator forming a negative judgment of the counterpart. In effect, the trainees, across cultures, were blocking themselves by judging the counterpart in a negative light. Once they focused on a “problem” in the counterpart’s delivery or perspective, they could no longer see any way of accepting that person on an even plane. This attitude resulted in one of two things: either a failure to close, or, more commonly, a closing at a lower than targeted price (simply to get out of the negotiation).

As a result of these observations, the researcher developed a new method of negotiation — one meant to radically change the negotiator’s perspective from “person of opposing camp” to “person filled with the spirit of collaboration.” Collaboration allowed both parties to have a mutual interest in the creation of a new relationship. Negotiation was really the wrong word entirely for what everyone wanted: what was needed was not a negotiation — but a relationship. This called for a total reworking of the training model.

The training model that the researcher developed considered of a new main exercise: he trained people to only ask open questions, to not judge, to eliminate all adjectives and adverbs, and to only accept (which does not necessarily mean agree with) what the “other” says. By doing so, the negotiator is able to extract needs and values upon which he can build the actual collaboration. In effect, in every session, for 2 days, the researcher had people practicing becoming aware that they judge and project/interpret all of the time. Once they realize this, they are able to catch themselves and work at stopping the bad habit completely. Then and only then can they apply the framework of the Fisher, Ury model — because now they are ready to enter into a spirit of collaboration. This method was practiced in role playing.

To summarize, for the next year and a half the researcher taught his trainees to keep negotiations open by allowing only open-ended questions to be asked. He encouraged them to listen to what the counterpart had to say — to listen and to accept their perspective. The trainee did not have to agree with the counterpart, but only listen and accept. This approach gradually became: Listen. Accept. Integrate. The researcher called his model “High Impact Negotiations.”

One example of how trainees responded in the role playing exercise after being trained in “High Impact Negotiations” is observed here:

The researcher placed himself or another person as the “buyer” and played a “tough” person who says, “If you don’t lower your price to xyz I will buy from competitors.” Prior to training with the “High Impact” model, 100% of trainees will argue and justify their prices and costs and become defensive, allowing their “reptilian brain” to take over in “survival mode.” After training with the “High Impact” model, the results are completely opposite: the trainees were able to respond only with a few open questions, paraphrasing everything that the buyer said, and never judging the buyer or “pushing back.” They simply asked the open ended questions, such as, “May I ask how you arrived at the price?” Or “What made you decide to come to us?” These questions not only showed an interest in the counterpart’s perspective but they also put the “ball back in his court” and allowed him to explain why he is there in the first place. The “buyer,” myself or another person in the role, then took the opportunity to speak and explain the point-of-view. So without becoming defensive or insisting on cost, the trainee learned to defuse the situation before it became explosive and allowed himself the opportunity to collect the needs and values of the “buyer” and reflect those points by showing that he had heard. Doing so, the seller made no evaluations and did not talk about himself, his position, or his responsibilities or concerns, concentrating instead on the buyer’s needs. These results are depicted in Fig. 3.

Figure 3. The percentage of participant reactions to the phenomenon of blocked negotiations when using the Fisher, Ury model of Principled Negotiations for the first half of 2013 and the researcher’s High Impact method for the second half.

As is seen in Fig. 3., a side by side comparison of the two negotiation methods reveals great contrast. The method of principled negotiations only was not enough to provide the seller with the tools needed to successfully close (those success rates are depicted in Fig. 2). High Impact Negotiations method allowed the seller to gain better mastery of himself and therefore of the negotiation process. By being attention, refraining from negative thinking, judging, feelings of superiority or inferiority and displays of non-verbal and verbal expressions of frustration, the seller could draw the buyer into a spirit of collaboration. All the seller did was ask a few open-ended questions and get the buyer to explain his point-of-view. The seller listened, repeated what the buyer had told him (paraphrasing) without making a judgment, and then explained his own perspective. At this point, the buyer was willing to listen and engage in a problem-solving exercise — which this researcher calls collaboration.

Results from the year 2014 confirm those seen in 2013. Fig. 4 and Fig. 5 reflect these results.

Figure 4. The percentage of participant reactions to the phenomenon of blocked negotiations when using the researcher’s High Impact method only.

Figure 5. The success rate for participant negotiators using the High Impact Negotiations model in real-world negotiations, 2013-14.

Fig. 3. And Fig. 4 illustrate the massive decline in bad habits following the trainees’ adoption of the researcher’s High Impact Negotiations model. By limiting questions to open-ended questions and insisting that negotiators listen, integrate and accept, trainees were able to see the benefit of adopting a new mindset/attitude to negotiating. This benefit is discernible in a comparison of successful negotiations under the two different negotiation models used by the researcher.

Fig. 5 illustrates the much higher success rate for negotiators when using the High Impact Negotiations technique.

Fig. 6 provides a side by side comparison of success rates for the two negotiation models.

Figure 6. Comparison of the success rates for participant negotiators using the 2 models of negotiations, 2012-14.

A Better Success Rate

Using the researcher’s High Impact model, 100% of trainees reported improvement. Only 6 people reported being unable to still close a deal, but it was evident that the issue was political and not related to the ability to negotiate. The rest had gone back to buyers to whom they had trouble selling — and this time they had had no trouble because of the techniques taught them regarding open-ended questions, listening, accepting, integrating, and not judging but rather collaborating.

Even after the 2-month follow-up conference call, 67% of trainees under the new “High Impact” model responded 3 and 6 months later to report that their sales had increased. Some said that totally blocked negotiations were unblocked.

The overwhelming number of trainees also reported that they now enjoyed the negotiating process, whereas before training under the High Impact Negotiations method they had not looked forward to their job. They explained the change in their attitude as the result of an entirely new mindset, which the High Impact model had given them.


The model created by the researcher grew out of his active participation in the negotiation process and his passive reception of experiences that trainees had with blocked negotiations. By listening and observing, the researcher developed a way of overcoming the fundamental flaw of the Fisher, Ury model.

Negotiations, he observed, are a mix of human strategy and specific techniques. When there is a “problem” it sometimes comes from the interpretation of the “other.” The first lesson the researcher learned was that one should not call it a “problem” but rather identify it as a “potential.” In the “high impact” model, the researcher shows that if a customer is talking to the negotiator then there is some interest to buy from him. The door is open. At that stage there are no problems. Problems are actually roadblocks that need to be removed: they can be hidden agendas, economic crises, budget issues, etc. The point is to understand the approach of the buyer who will then reveal his/her issues, which can be of any variety. Oftentimes, it is apparent that negotiators need to accept people and issues and deal with them by simply understanding them and integrating them into their proposal. In the researcher’s method, negative words like “problem” are banned.

The researcher’s model produced 100% improvement across all cultures in every session. The fundamental reason for this improvement was the establishment of a “spirit of collaboration,” i.e., an attitude change in the trainees, that resulted in their approaching negotiations in a relationship-building manner.

These ideas are discussed more fully in the next chapter, with suggestions for further research following.

Chapter 5: Discussion

Based on the percentages of mistakes made, the researcher arrived at the following conclusions:

Trainees could experience both superiority and inferiority complexes within the same negotiation. They readily engaged in negative thinking and showed negative verbal and non-verbal habits. They became upset when compromise seemed to fail, or tried to hard to assert their own demands, or they became frustrated that they could not seem to say the right words or what they thought they needed to say to close the sale. They felt their body language was either too expressive or not expressive enough. Even when they felt they were just “being natural” they showed signs of irritation or of “selling” that made the counterpart less willing to cooperate.

When these negatives were brought to their attention and shown why they were negative, along with an illustrative technique used by the trainer for reinforcement purposes, the trainees responded with awareness and began to develop better habits according to the “High Impact Model” of negotiation that the trainer then provided them.

By explaining to the trainees that there were “no difficult people,” contrary to the title of the course being given at Harvard University (How to Deal with Difficult People), the researcher showed how the salespersons first needed to understand why the “situation” felt difficult and how the counterpart was perceiving it.

This approach allowed the sales representatives to open up to a fresh way of looking at the negotiation. Rather that seeing it as though down the barrel of a gun, they were now viewing it from across the table, seeing themselves as if for the first time. They began to notice their own fidgeting as though uncomfortable with the negotiation process, and how this made their counterpart feel. They began to notice their own facial expressions and verbal expressions, their tones of voice, the ways in which they spoke to their counterpart, which could easily be viewed as signs of frustration, discomfort, annoyance, condescension, or even dislike. They were, in effect, taken out of themselves so as to better see themselves, their counterpart, and the negotiation process.

Throughout this process, the researcher noted that few people are naturally capable of not projecting or interpreting the counterpart’s point-of-view or opinion. The ability to be 100% objective without training, cues, and guidance, is rare. Most people tend to be subjective even if they believe themselves to be objective: so the researcher intuited through his observance of the phenomenon.

In order to bring the trainees out of their negative subjectivity, the trainer saw that closed questions caused negotiators to become frustrated, even though these were intended to be means of controlling the negotiation process. The opposite was true: by asking closed questions the negotiator closed himself off from the negotiation process. Open-ended questions were needed to open himself to collaborative ideas and target-price closings. But fearing unnecessary temptations, such as: “This person’s story is all over the place, why can’t she stick to the point?” Or “I don’t understand why he talks like this, he didn’t answer my question, I wonder what he is hiding?” Or “Well, I didn’t need to know all that, hm, now I feel overwhelmed, I don’t think I’m up to this task,” negotiators did not want to “open” the door to the counterpart and “let him in.” The only thing to do, the researcher noted, was to stop closed questions and force the trainees to open themselves to the “other” by only asking open-ended questions.

Closed questions were too formal and impersonal. They gave one the illusion that all one needed to do was stick to the facts with yes or no answers or short phrases, and the negotiator would be able to gather the information he or she required to feel comfortable enough to close the deal. When this did not happen as the negotiator planned, the negotiator became despondent, through up his hands and either closed below his target or walked away empty-handed. The counterpart also felt that the negotiator was in too firm command of the process, did not care what he had to say, did not want to listen to any ideas and in general was condescending and superior-sounding. Asking only closed questions got the negotiator nowhere fast.

The key phrase the researcher used to remind his trainees of how to practice the High Impact Model of negotiation was: Listen, Integrate and Accept. This policy not only gave the negotiator the confidence to proceed positively but it also enabled the counterpart to listen and cooperate.

This study confirmed that the flaw in the Fisher, Ury model of negotiation was its willingness to see “problems” — but as this study has shown, there are no problems if there are two parties willing to come to the negotiating table, but rather only opportunities. The negotiator should not view the counterpart, or buyer, as a potential problem to be solved, but rather as a potential collaborator with whom a relationship can be formed. Such a positive attitude going into a negotiation has been shown by an overwhelming majority of responders that is the right attitude to maintain and the first step to take in successful closing a negotiation.

What the trainees themselves found was that when they did not “push back” or give control over to their “reptilian brain,” they actually managed to “gain” control in the negotiation. The part of “High Impact Negotiations” that worked so well for them was when they put the “ball back in the buyers’ court” by asking a few open-ended questions and allowing them to explain their position. It is important, too, that the buyer feel as though he is being allowed to explain — and not that an explanation is demanded. If the buyer feels that the seller is genuinely interested in his side of the story, he does not feel pushed and in turn feels less inclination to push back as well. If the seller is willing to hear the buyer’s point-of-view, the buyer is more likely to hear the seller’s point-of-view. From that point on, they can enter into a spirit of collaboration and find a solution that is win-win.

This study does not discount or dismiss the Fisher, Ury model of negotiation, for, indeed, it does use it as a framework for the High Impact model. However, it does illustrate the limitations of the Fisher, Ury model in the real world, as a number researchers have already expressed. The data that this study provides should be enough to raise the question: ought negotiation trainers, researchers and academics continue to promote the Fisher, Ury model? Should schools like Harvard be offering classes which teach students “how to deal with difficult people”? This study suggests that a better class might be titled: “Why There are NO Difficult People.” The phenomenological research indicates that perspective and approach are key to influencing negotiations, and this is something that the Fisher, Ury model does not stress. The quantitative data indicates that respect and care for the “other,” instead of giving in to one’s “reptilian” need to assert, push back, and be defensive, may be the answer to the problems that students of the Fisher, Ury model have encountered.

Further study should be conducted in which an assortment of tests can provide deeper analyses.

Such studies should focus on time as well as negotiating situations. A more narrow focus on a tighter-knit group of negotiators representing a specific sub-section of the sales industry could be helpful in identify whether certain methods are stronger or weaker in various industries. A more expanded (time-wise) study could provide information on whether or not these results continue to show a positive success rate over a period of years.

With the world of globalized business constantly changing such studies may not be feasible or even practical. In such cases, it may be that the only solution is to accept the phenomenological observations of research such as this one and apply them in real-world exercises. Monitoring real-world results may be the best way to verify certain aspects of this data. Because of the unique and individualistic nature of this study, however, it may be that the results cannot be duplicated or verified at all. Part of the mystery of training technique and teaching principles is that much information is conveyed in ways that linguists and empiricists are not even in agreement about. Famed linguist Charles Pearce spent a lifetime attempting to unravel the mystery of language, arguing that it was a triadic phenomenon rather than a dyadic phenomenon. His argument presents a strong case that there is more that is unknown about the way that human relations and affairs are conducted than what is known. If such is the case, time may be best spent on educating individuals on the principles that are shown to be successful, even if why they are successful cannot be fully explained or even understood. There is a wisdom that accepts what works and dismisses what does not, and in the case of negotiation analysis and much of sociological research geared towards implementing results-based practices, such may be the only approach worth taking.

Nonetheless, these questions cannot be satisfactorily concluded within the space of this study nor is it even appropriate, perhaps, that they be raised. Because the nature of this study is so inclusive, however, certain questions such as the nature of human interaction inevitably arise. This study has indicated that certain practices are effective if conducted in a certain way. In the next section, a discussion of the “practicability” of these practices is given.

Practical Application of Results

These results imply that the High Impact model may be applied universally in a variety of sales negotiations. The participants were from more than 30 countries and a variation of fields (industrial and retail sales). Positive results were reported from 100% of these participants, with the majority of them saying that sales improved. Therefore, the researcher sees no reason why this model could not be implemented across the board by all sales representatives.

The “Listen, accept, integrate” method of drawing the counterpart into a collaborative relationship could also be applied in any science or field in which persons from different backgrounds and perspectives must work together to arrive at a meeting ground (solely by condition of the human experience, which posits that humans be social and part of a working, social order). The implication is that this method could have far-reaching consequences, beyond negotiation research. It could be seen to be applied to the field of political science, to foreign affairs, to domestic affairs, to educational platforms, to social platforms, to group activities, workplace cultures (management teams might find this to be an acceptable method of instilling trust and likeability), and just culture systems researchers may find that such a method is successful in instilling a culture that is fair, balanced and inclusive of differing persons with differing perspectives. One danger that might be seen, however, is that a dependence upon subjective “truth” could overrule objective analysis — which is essentially the course that modern philosophical inquiry has taken. Further study should bear in mind that scholastic respect for objective truth, which Aquinas and Plato both held and attempted to get others to hold as well. With that point in mind, it might be enough to revisit this question of objectivity and subjectivity to see if one can “be” objective without being judgmental on any consistent basis. Such a question may have ramifications beyond the negotiating table, as has already been stated. Identifying the correct courses and avenues for further research, however, can be difficult. It is essential to keep in mind the positive “fruits” of research and to build on these to create a practical field of study that is not hampered by pre-conceived ideas that may have been formulated by prejudices that often go unrecognized.

However, the limitations of this study do not allow the study to be conclusive. Further research and experimentation could confirm or clarify these results. This study took a phenomenological approach and delivered both qualitative and quantitative results. The early quantitative results from follow-up calls during the first year and a half of the study, along with qualitative results gathered from these calls and during the training exercises, allowed the researcher to modify the Fisher, Ury principled negotiations method. The modification produced quantitative results which showed a vast improvement in negotiations and qualitative results which confirmed and supported the empirical data received from coaching call responses.

These participants came from leading sales industries all over the world and therefore it is not unreasonable to suggest that the researcher’s method be reviewed, studied and tested by other researchers with their own sample group. Such a study can be both practical and helpful in solidifying the opinion presented here.

Furthermore, the opinion presented here provides a practical direction for negotiation researchers as it includes real world training exercises, wherein both qualitative and quantitative data was gathered. The combination of data should appeal to a range of researchers, whose preferences for studies may tend either to the former or the latter. These results are presented in a way that can be useful to both.


This study may have also benefited from a separate focus, aside from the testing of the success rate of the researcher’s new “High Impact Model.” That separate focus, considering the varying ethnicities of the participants, could have gathered data on the differing ways in which these persons conducted negotiations and situated the study in a triangulation of data. The parameters of this study, however, were more narrowly defined to explore the reasons for so many blocked negotiations when using the Principled Negotiations model but fewer blocked negotiations when using the researcher’s “High Impact Model.” A future study might be performed in which data on the varying ethnicities’ approach to negotiation can be coupled with this study’s results to provide a deeper understanding of the universal language of negotiation. Because this researcher is widely exposed to various ethnicities in his training seminars, the following suggestions are not only applicable but quite possible:

Obtain data in which ethnography, negotiation theory, and phenomenological assessment are triangulated to provide a new, more penetrating understanding of the universal language of negotiation.

Test this new understanding of the universal language of negotiation in various ethnographical locations to evaluate how ethnicities respond to the phenomenon.

Evaluate the results and refine the focus so that the “High Impact Model” of negotiation can be tested in a multitude of “blocked” circumstances.

Results are very fast, as they occur within 2 months of the conclusion of the training. They are sustainable, as the researcher does hear back from some for a longer period of time after the initial 2-month coaching call. However, it is not systematic that the researcher hears back. Of those trainees in attendance, 35% stay in touch and 100% of them report continuous improvement as they have “literally changed their mindset.” Of those 35%, 86% report having begun to enjoy negotiating and feeling empowered by the use of the new technique. This suggests that it may be time to re-examine the meaning of the term “negotiation.” Is there a reason that individuals tend to dislike negotiating but, when it is described to them as being less of a negotiation and more of a collaboration, it becomes tolerable and even likeable when negotiators orient their mindset to the model proposed by the researcher’s High Impact Negotiation model based on collaboration? An exploration into this question could also serve as the basis for future inquiry.

This study was limited by the assumption that a universal language of negotiation does exist. While numerous researchers have attempted to show that successful cross-cultural negotiations depend upon the participants’ ability to learn the language of the other, this study has contended that the language of the other is simply the universal language of what Old World scholastics identified as caritas. This assumption has been pivotal in the development of the High Impact model and while the model’s results appear to more than satisfactory, the role of caritas in the negotiation method may seem questionable to some. This notion of caritas, however, could stand to be researched further as it may apply to other areas of study and fields of science. It represents a “throwback” to classical ideas, which are at odds with modern, conventional methods. This very study, by being phenomenologically-based is, in a way, a “throwback” to Platonic methods of learning. By “intuiting” rather than depending upon empirical data (which this study does provide — but only because the researcher intuited what was lacking in the Fisher, Ury method), researchers may be better positioned to engage in deeper analyses of contemporary problems and issues.

Thus this research provides perhaps an unexpected suggestion to the academic world — a return to a discussion on the validity of classical ideas and the consequences of modern philosophical discourse and notions. If one adopts the proper perspective, one sees how well negotiations can turn out; if a researcher adopts the right perspective, it may stand to reason that some issues which they face in their studies may be clarified. This researcher recommends an alternate subject for study: a phenomenological analysis of human relations which are strained, and how they affected by practicing the dictate of the ancient proverb, “Get the mote out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to help your neighbor.” Where such a study might find a suitable place is contestable, as it is perhaps more idealistic than practicable. In the final analysis researchers will have to limit themselves to what they are capable of studying, whatever approach they deem acceptable to take. The recommendation of this researcher is that future studies be performed in a similar spirit, that is with a regard for the way things are rather than for the way things “ought” to be.


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