Coming Soon New Book in English "Transcend Quo Vadis Negotiator"

FOREWORD

In this ground-breaking and inspiring book, Dr. Habib Chamoun-Nicolas generously explains how the key to dealing with others successfully requires first looking inward.
That’s because whenever you negotiate with self, you implicitly define yourself. All that you do and say reflects aspects of your nature, your personality, and your character. Those actions comprise who you truly are, especially who you are in relation to others. Transcend! illuminates that reality and brings into focus two complementary insights that are essential for negotiators. One of them may seem obvious. The other is less so, though no less important.
The first is that negotiation is a profoundly human activity, one that can bring out the best in us, but only if we recognize the full consequences of the choices that we make. When we’re not self-aware, we risk behaving in ways that conflict with our ideals.
Transactions of any sort raise moral issues about what we owe—if anything—in terms of fairness to the parties with whom we deal. Issues of fairness come up in different forms. One is honesty. For example, is it ever permissible to lie in negotiation? Many people would say never (or very rarely), though we may wonder whether they themselves truly live up to that principle. People start to squirm if asked whether nondisclosure— withholding key facts without lying overtly—is any better, given that the intent to mislead is no different. In practice, negotiators seem to apply a double standard by being comfortable with their own evasions, yet angry when others are less than fully candid.

Tactical choices in the course of negotiation raise moral issues, as well. Is it okay to bluff or use false deadlines to force concessions? “Certainly,” some people might claim. “It’s a game like poker. Everyone understands the rules.” Yes, sharp bargainers may prevail in some circumstances, but that attitude imposes a social cost. It casts negotiation as a contest, with a winner and loser. The participants themselves are foes, not potential partners. That competitive view isn’t universal, of course, but it makes people who do not subscribe to it approach the table with some caution, lest they be manipulated. As a result, they may hesitate to trust others and reveal their true priorities. When that happens, opportunities for value-creating solutions can be squandered.
That leads us to the third level of moral issues, the fairness of the ultimate outcome—who gets what share of the pie. The question does not have an easy answer. Much depends on circumstances. Perhaps a customer shopping for a new car need not worry about how the dealership makes out. Even if she is well-prepared, the salesman will know more about the market and his and/or the dealership’s needs than she ever will. If she makes an unreasonable offer, the salesperson can always say no. But imagine that those parties reach agreement, and it is now nine years later. She’s considering selling the well-used vehicle to a teenager for whom it will be his first car. Many would argue that she should think twice about squeezing him out of every last dollar that he’s earned in his after-school job.

At the outset, I stated that the moral dimension of negotiation is obvious. That may be true in the abstract, but in actual practice, the pressures of the process (including balancing competing responsibilities to oneself and to others) can narrow our vision and undermine our ability to live up to our professed values.
It is on this plane that Transcend! makes a unique contribution to negotiation wisdom. Its conceptual framework links together important skills that not only can enable a negotiator to maintain perspective, but can also enhance his or her substantive performance. Among these are prudence, fortitude, temperance, and discernment. I’m tempted to call those attributes “virtues,” as they are most certainly aspects of character. I have stayed with “skills,” however, to make clear the practicality of this work. Each of the skills is explained with concrete examples, and there are reflective exercises, as well. The point is that we can all deepen these qualities, through practice and attention.
The book you are holding provides numerous compelling explanations and applications. Here are two examples: First, Chapter 5 describes temperance as “the act of creating order in our own self as a kind of self- preservation, a habit that defends and protects us from ourselves, due to the fact that humans have a strong tendency of going against one’s own nature.” In short, we need poise and balance to perform at our best.

Renowned mediator David Hoffman speaks of the importance of “bringing peace into the room” when he handles other people’s disputes. As this book makes clear, negotiators likewise must strive for the same kind of balance. Emotions are contagious. If we are tense and internally conflicted, others will sense it and respond accordingly.
The nature of interpersonal dynamics is developed further in the concluding chapter on discernment (an important word that I can’t recall seeing in any other negotiation text). A section warns of the danger of self- fulfilling prophecies that occur when “whatever we infer about a person becomes a reality, not because the inference is correct, but because our fearful or defensive action produces a similar reaction in the other. The inference causes us, rather than dealing with a person, to deal with a ghost that we have created of that person.”
Amen to that.
In hindsight, it’s sometimes possible to recognize how others may have misread our defensiveness as hostility and how we may have projected our own feelings on them. But then, it’s too late. The challenge—indeed, the imperative—is anticipating that possibility and engaging others in an open and constructive manner. By summoning the best in ourselves, we can endeavor to evoke the best in others with whom we deal.
Michael Wheeler
Harvard Business School
 

INTRODUCTION
The world of negotiation books—for both students and practitioners—can largely be grouped into several categories.
First, there are numerous books that report on the works and practices of great negotiators (Stanton, 2011) offering biographical perspectives on these individuals and highlighting their conduct in significant negotiation events. Many of these works are in the fields of political science and international relations, where it is more ‘professionally acceptable’ to perform scholarly work by reporting information about the substance, structure and evolution of complex deals, such as boundary disputes, peace-building and peacekeeping efforts, tribal conflicts, and resolution of major economic, political and social conflict. In reading these, one learns a great deal about the complexity of the dispute, while also gaining insight into the talents and skills of the key negotiators.
Second, one can find more academic ‘textbooks’ on negotiation, which blend an extensive body of research together into a summary of the ‘science’ of negotiation (e.g., Lewicki, Saunders and Barry, 2015; Thompson, 2014) . These books integrate the findings from many scientifically designed and controlled studies, each studying one or two key variables (e.g., differences in personality type, tactic use and effectiveness, context in which the negotiation occurs), into a synthetic whole that provides multiple lenses and perspectives on the complex interpersonal and group dynamics of a negotiation. While these books are largely descriptive in their presentation of the research findings, they are also mildly prescriptive—but quite antiseptic—in offering their advice about how to use the research to improve one’s negotiation practice.

Finally, the vast majority of books on negotiation are written for the practicing negotiator, and offer ‘distilled’ wisdom about how to understand the give and take of a negotiation and how to master this give and take. A few of these books offer their prescriptive advice by grounding it in the solid findings of the research tradition, but most offer helpful tips, techniques and tools that a negotiator can use in order to ‘win’ (e.g., Fisher, Ury and Patton, 2013; Latz, 2004). These books usually reflect the professional background of the author (e.g., real estate, purchasing, law, business transactions) and are replete with examples, vignettes, war stories and other applications designed to make the key points. While many have high value for the practicing negotiator, few offer a truly comprehensive perspective on the complex dynamics of parties working to find an acceptable solution to a nagging, complex and pervasive dispute.
Remarkably, Transcend! Quo Vadis Negotiator does not conveniently fit any of these categories. Rather, Habib Chamoun and his collaborators offer us the opportunity to take a personal journey into ourselves as negotiators. The authors’ perspective is that we must know ourselves as human beings—more than just our strengths and weaknesses, but also our character— before we can seriously engage in the planning, strategy and tactical execution of a complex deal. The proper lenses for this self-knowledge are the organizing theme of this book and, as Dean David Noel Ramirez notes in his introduction to the Spanish version, are ‘precepts that have existed since ancient times’: Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, Temperance and Discernment.

This book makes three major contributions that offer significant enrichment to both the budding negotiator and the highly experienced dealmaker. First, it does not try to follow the typical ‘know thyself’ road of many similar books by dealing with the simple ‘paper and pencil’ self-assessments typically used in negotiating seminars and courses, such as indicators of conflict management style, leadership or communication style, or basic fundamental dimensions of personality. Instead it encourages the reader to delve deeply into his or her personal values, since these values are likely to be the strongest determinant of the fundamental mindset and personal biases that an individual brings to the negotiation table. Second, it is usefully prescriptive in that it outlines the five basic values (virtues) that must govern a productive, mutual gains negotiation, and implicitly creates the tools for negotiators to assess where they personally stand on those values. Finally, by addressing negotiation character directly, the authors are also able to offer advice on how to begin to reason through value dilemmas, particularly ones involving the use of dishonest and deceptive tactics. As any experienced negotiator knows, these are the tactics which may help one gain short-term advantage but also can create irreparable damage to any long-term relationship with a strategic partner. As such, Transcend! offers a most valuable and unique contribution to the negotiation literature, one that should be required reading for all who expect to spend a life and career in ongoing negotiation and dispute resolution.

Roy J. Lewicki
Max M. Fisher College of Business, The Ohio State University

 

 

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