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Fighting in the space between us

World-renowned negotiator, Daniel Shapiro, writes in his book Negotiating the Nonnegotiable that our most constructive conflicts lead to real solutions when they don’t take place inside of us or our opponents but rather in the space between us.

Stringing out the emotions that churn inside of us until they make a tidy or not so tidy pile on the table before us, and inviting the other person to do the same, may seem like a bold and brave conflict resolution strategy. It is messy, though. Out of fear of this emotional can of worms, we reach for other strategies that seem more rational but are in fact emotionally motivated and often highly charged. We do some or all of the following:

  1. Refine our argument against the opposing opinion.
  2. Gather evidence to prove the other person wrong or to prove ourselves right.
  3. Anticipate push-back and become defensive even before a word has been said.
  4. Contemplate and even exaggerate the outcome if we should...
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