Optimal Collaboration: A Three-Tiered Process
Dealing with these three tiers of collaboration can help us reach an optimal outcome. These layers are a menu of options from which to decide where we should focus our attention during the interactive process. Consider a metaphor. Firefighters’ lives depend on distinguishing between several classes of fires: If they stream water onto a burning wooden house, the fire will extinguish, but should they do the same on a gasoline blaze, the flames will intensify (Mitrokostas, 2018). Collaboration operates under a similar principle. We must consider what level to focus on–rational, emotional, or identity—in order to put out the fires of destructive conflict and boost the efficiency of our dealings. For example, diplomats who have a constructive working relationship may jump right into rational problem solving, whereas parties who feel offended may be better advised to work through their grievances before doing so. While it is beyond the scope of this paper to offer specific guidance to address each tier of collaboration, my colleagues and I have written several books with that aim in mind (Fisher, Ury, & Patton, 2011; Fisher & Shapiro, 2006; Shapiro, 2017).
Resolving the world’s most pressing problems requires collaboration—yet a variety of obstacles stand in the way, including lack of political will, poor negotiation skills, an adversarial mindset, and rational myopia. By attending to the three tiers of collaboration – rationality, emotionality, and identity—stakeholders can overcome these obstacles. At the rational level, we can gain skill in interest-based negotiation and draw on its principles to promote mutual gains and overcome the political will problem. At the emotional level, we can address each other’s core concerns to stimulate positive emotions and combat the adversarial mindset. And at the level of identity, we can appreciate each other’s defining characteristics to embolden joint work, discover mutual gains, and promote ideas that can improve the state of the world.
Fisher, R., & Shapiro, D. (2006). Beyond Reason: Using Emotions as You Negotiate. New York: Penguin Books.
Fisher, R., Ury, W., & Patton, B. (2011). Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In. New York: Penguin Books.
Lax, D., & Sebenius, J. (1986). The Manager as Negotiator: Bargaining for Cooperation and Competitive Gain. New York: Free Press.
Mitrokostas, S. (2018, December 13). Retrieved from Insider: https://www.insider.com/types-of-fires-and-how-to-put-them-out-2018-12
Mnookin, R., Peppet, S., & Tulumello, A. (2000). Beyond Winning: Negotiating to Create Value in Deals and Disputes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Schneider, A. K. (2002). Shattering Negotiation Myths: Empirical Evidence on the Effectiveness of Negotiation Style. Harvard Negotiation Law Review, 7(143), 143-233.
Shapiro, D. L. (2017). Negotiating the Nonnegotiable: How to Resolve Your Most Emotionally Charged Conflicts. New York: Penguin Books.
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