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Further Beyond Reason: Emotions, the Core Concerns, and Mindfulness in Negotiation

This article will appear as the centerpiece of a symposium in the Nevada Law Journal to be published in May 2010. This draft article is published with permission of the author.

Negative emotions can impede good negotiation, especially good interest-based negotiation. Positive emotions can foster good negotiation. Roger Fisher and Daniel Shapiro have proposed the Core Concerns System for addressing the emotional dimension of negotiation by attending to five core concerns that everyone shares: Appreciation, Affiliation, Autonomy, Status, and Role. They recommend using the core concerns both as a “lens” to understand a negotiation situation and as a “lever” to produce positive emotions, thus enhancing the likelihood of good, interest based negotiation.

This system is simple and often effective. Not infrequently, however, negotiators who have mastered the Core Concerns System, and intend and prepare to use it in a particular negotiation, fail to do so; sometimes, looking back, they wish that they had used that approach because they believe it would have produced a better process and outcome. When this happens, it typically results from deficiencies in present-moment awareness. One way to remedy such deficiencies is present-moment mindful awareness, or “mindfulness.”

Mindfulness is a certain way of paying attention—deliberately, moment-to-moment, and without judgment—to whatever passes through the traditional senses and the mind. A person cultivates this skill in silent meditation and then deploys it in everyday life.

Reciprocally, the Core Concerns System can help a person maintain mindfulness. Through such mutual reinforcement, mindfulness and the Core Concerns System could do more together than they could separately to reduce self-centered thoughts, emotions, and behaviors and encourage more other-centered thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in negotiation.



Leonard Riskin

Leonard L. Riskin is Chesterfield Smith Professor of Law at the University of Florida Levin College of Law. He previously served at the University of Missouri as Director of the Center for the Study of Dispute Resolution and Professor of Law. He has taught both dispute resolution and mindfulness around… MORE >

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