Optimal Collaboration: A Three-Tiered Process

Optimal Collaboration: A Three-Tiered Process

The second tier of collaboration is emotionality, which brings visceral intensity to the interaction. Human beings are in a state of “perpetual emotion” (Shapiro, 2001) – we are always feeling something—and those reactions can be particularly vibrant when we are personally invested in the focal issues. Collaboration can be exciting, annoying, frustrating, and aggravating, and our perceived treatment in that process can stimulate personal pride, joy, shame, anger, and disgust. Dealing with emotions is complex. But while there are hundreds of possible shades of emotion with which to contend, Roger Fisher and I propose that negotiators address a smaller set of core concerns–basic human motivations—that stimulate many of those sentiments (Fisher & Shapiro, 2006). Our research illuminates five core concerns that tend to arise in negotiation: appreciation, affiliation, autonomy, status, and role. If a core concern is met, we feel positive emotions and are more inclined to work together; if it is unmet, we tend to feel distressed and are less prone to cooperate. Thus, stakeholders who address the core concerns can counteract the adversarial mindset and increase the efficacy of collaboration.

The third tier of collaboration involves identity, the spectrum of characteristics that define who we are and for what we stand (Shapiro, 2017). Do we feel cast aside based on gender, race, ethnicity, or nationality? Do other stakeholders’ values seem incompatible with ours? While the rational mind responds to reason and the emotional system responds to empathy, identity responds to valued recognition. Without feeling appreciated for who we are and what we bring to the table, the entrepreneurial spirit of collaboration quickly fades.


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About the Author

Daniel ShapiroDaniel Shapiro: Founder and Director, Harvard International Negotiation Program Associate Professor of Psychology, Harvard Medical School/McLean HospitalAffiliate faculty, Program on Negotiation Daniel Shapiro teaches a highly evaluated course on negotiation at Harvard College; instructs psychology interns at Harvard Medical School/McLean Hospital; and leads executive education sessions at the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, Harvard Kennedy School, and Harvard Medical School/McLean Hospital. He also has served on the faculty at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, and at the Sloan School of Management at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.Named one of the top 15 professors at Harvard University, Shapiro specializes in practice-based research—building theory and testing it in real-world contexts. He has launched successful conflict resolution initiatives in the Middle East, Europe, and East Asia, and for three years chaired the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Conflict Resolution. Focusing extensively on the emotional and identity-based dimensions of negotiation and conflict resolution, Shapiro led the initiative to create the world’s first Global Curriculum on Conflict Management for senior policymakers as well as a conflict management curriculum that now reaches one million youth across more than 20 countries. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the American Psychological Association’s Early Career Award and the Cloke-Millen Peacemaker of the Year Award. In May of 2019, Shapiro was named Harvard’s Joseph R. Levenson Memorial Teaching Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, the oldest of the teaching awards given out by the Undergraduate Council.

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