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What Will You Learn In Today’s Episode

  • Challenging the power dynamics in a negotiation is possible; you just need to improve your BATNA and get a little creative
  • Relationships in negotiations are the grease that makes negotiations go smoothly from good to great, as it allows for a space for both parties to be comfortable sharing their issues.
  • Using technology for negotiations is not bad as long as you understand the medium you are using and educate yourself about the best practices.
  • Emotions play a huge role in every negotiation since humans are logical and emotional creatures.
  • Negotiation and conflict management requires knowledge, learning, and commitment; it’s not as hard as some people might think them to be.

Executive Summary:

Hey everyone! Welcome back to another episode of the NEGOTIATEx podcast . We are continuing our conversation with Dr. Joshua Weiss , the co-founder of the Global Negotiation Initiative at Harvard University and a senior fellow at the Harvard Negotiation Project. If you haven’t already, please be sure to check out Part A of the show.

Now, without further ado, let’s jump into the conversation with Josh.

Challenging The Power Dynamics In A Negotiation Is Possible

Right off the bat, Nolan highlights the concept of power differences in negotiations. It is where one person feels like they’re in a weaker position than the other and are happy to just get an average deal instead of an optimal one.

Josh suggests that there are a few ways in which you can influence a situation and recognize that you bring some power to the table. One effective way of doing that is by improving your BATNA (Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement). If you don’t already know, it is the next best option for one party when the talks fail in a negotiation.

The key to improving your BATNA is by challenging your assumptions and thinking creatively, as it will allow you to push the envelope about what’s possible. You would also want to find out where the sources of your power lie, as it can go a long way in helping you challenge the power dynamics in a negotiation.

All in all, if you have a bad BATNA, focus on how you can improve it instead of throwing up your hands and hoping the powerful party throws you a couple of morsels here and there because that never works out well.

On that note, let us also tell you that research studies suggest that when the more powerful party forces a powerful party to reach a deal, those deals typically don’t get implemented very well.

Relationships Make Negotiations Move From Good To Great

According to Josh, relationships in negotiations are essentially the oil that greases the wheel and makes negotiations move from good to great. That’s because when you have a relationship with the counterparty, you can be open with each other and highlight your issues without much hesitation.

However, if you don’t know the counterparty personally, it’s highly likely that you will have a hard time highlighting your issues to them during a negotiation.

Using Technology For Negotiations Has Its Pros And Cons

While negotiating in person is always preferable, Josh suggests that negotiating through technology could sometimes prove beneficial for some people. For instance, many people find email an ideal negotiation platform because they don’t feel the stress of the counterparty trying to push them to agree.

When negotiating through email, one has the time to think and the chance to take a step away if things don’t go their way, which is seldom the case when negotiating in person. Another great use of email is that it can be used to summarize where you are in a process and what the other party has agreed to since it’s written communication.

Having said that, you need to be aware of the pitfalls that come along with technology. Remember, a message can be easily misinterpreted while negotiating through emails since it’s impossible to judge the other party’s tone.

So, make sure that you understand the medium you are using and educate yourself about the best practices.

Emotions Play A Role In Every Negotiation

Josh strongly believes that emotions play a huge role in every negotiation since human beings are logical and emotional creatures. Although it would be easier for most negotiators if they could get rid of emotions while negotiating, the fact of the matter is humans don’t work like that. There is barely any substitute for emotional intelligence.

So, make sure you know your emotions and the emotions of the counterparty and use them to fuel yourself.

Negotiation And Conflict Management Requires Knowledge, Learning, And Commitment

Negotiation and conflict management require knowledge, learning, and commitment, and it’s up to you to commit to that. Believe it or not, you are the only person standing in your way, so roll up your sleeves and do it. Josh also recommends reading negotiation and conflict management books as it will further pique your interest and broaden your horizons.

He promises that you won’t be disappointed because once you get the taste of success, you will start believing that it really does work and can help you in your work life and your personal life.

Josh, Aram, and Nolan discuss a lot more on this episode of the NEGOTIATEx Podcast. Write to us at team@negotiatex.com and share your thoughts on this very informational podcast episode.

Thank you for listening.


Nolan Martin : Hey everyone, thanks for joining us on the NegotiateX podcast. We are continuing our conversation with Dr. Joshua Weiss, the co-founder of the Global Negotiation Initiative at Harvard University and a senior fellow at the Harvard Negotiation Project. If you haven't already, please be sure to check out part A of the show. And, let's jump into the conversation with Josh.

With mindset, there often there's this concept of power differences where basically one person feels like they're in a weaker position than the other, and that by just getting a deal is better than getting, you know, an optimal deal or anything like that. So, can you speak on power differences and how, whether they're real or perceived, you can advise negotiators one way or the other?

Josh’s Take On Power Differences In Negotiation [2:01] 

Josh Weiss : Sure. I mean, power is, it's certainly not easy to deal with in negotiation. You know, both of you come from a military background where there's a very strong hierarchy and, and power is prevalent, right? And, but I think power is very different in a lot of different contexts in negotiation because power is, it's not a monolithic thing. The reason that you're sitting down at the negotiation table is because you bring value in some way, shape, or form. And value, in one sense, could translate into, you have some power to influence the situation, right?

So, there's two things I would say, so that's an important one and in fact, I did an animated video, I don't know, maybe about seven or eight years ago, because I was concerned about this problem. And I actually used the figure of Sir Isaac Newton, who was the first person to take a beam of light and refract it through a prism, but then to refract it back through another prism, which then gave him that sort of single beam of white light.

JW : The point I was trying to make with the analogy of Sir Isaac Newton was that when he refracted that strong white beam that seemed monolithic, he broke it into its parts. And there are a lot of sources of power in negotiation if you look for them. There's organizational sources, there's knowledge sources. If you're a good negotiator, you have power, right? Things along those lines, if you know, exploring your BATNA and having options, whatever it might be, right?

There are a lot of ways in which you can influence a situation and recognize that you bring some power to the table and it's not nearly as hopeless as you might imagine. And I'll, if it's all right, I'll share one quick story from the book that is sort of my favorite story or one of my favorites there, there are a lot of great ones in there.

JW : So this was a colleague of mine who shared this story with me and it was actually a sole supplier situation, which, you know, when it comes to power and negotiation, there may not be any more sort of powerful one than that, right? You've got one entity you can deal with. So the story is basically about a company called Inaraugry, who was an agricultural company working in China and they had a piece of machinery that was many multimillion dollar equipment and it was the heart of their business. And they had had it for about 15 years, which was the lifespan of the machine.

So, Inaraugry was partly owned by an Australian company and by a Chinese company. And there was one company in China called Solantar that produced this machinery. Nobody else in all of China did it. And due to Chinese restrictions, importing in that context wasn't gonna happen.

JW : And it turns out that Solanter was partly also owned by the government. So there were all kinds of restrictions and other kinds of things, and so importing was not possible. So when Inaraugry sat down with Solantar to try to buy a new piece of equipment, Solantar was gonna charge them an exorbitant amount to the point where Inaraugry wasn't sure that they could remain profitable if they were to pay it.

So they were stuck. And they called my colleague and they said they brought him in and they said, Okay, so here's the situation. And he said, Well, what's your BATNA? And I'm guessing everybody knows what a BATNA is, or do I, should I share that a little bit?

Aram Donigian : Sure, go. Go for it. But our listeners should know by this point.

JW : Well, so your BATNA is your best alternative to a negotiated agreement in it. It simply means if you don't reach an agreement at that point, what are you gonna do? Right? So they looked at him and they said, That's the problem. We don't have one. Like they're the sole supplier, We can't import anything. He said, I see, Okay, so here's what I want you to do. You're gonna have three days and I want you to imagine that Solantar is gone outta business and you still need to be, you still need to meet your needs of purchasing this equipment. And they kind of looked at him and they're like, Are you serious? And he's like, Yeah, I'm serious. And he said, I'll be back. And he left and the procurement team sitting there looking at each other like, What? This guy's crazy.

JW : Like we just brought him in to help us and now he's making our life harder. And after a little while of, you know, complaining, somebody finally said, Look, let's just roll up our sleeves and get to it. So they started to brainstorm and they weren't having a whole lot of luck the first day, the second day somebody said, You think there's any companies in China that maybe already own this equipment and maybe they'd be willing to sell it? And they all looked at each other and said, Well, we have no idea. Why don't you go investigate? So this guy does a search and he finds companies that are working in the agricultural sector and he narrows it down and he finds this company in inner Mongolia, province of China that has this equipment. And he calls them and he says, Hey, any chance you guys would be interested in selling that?

JW : And they said, Actually, our business model's changing and we bought this about three years ago and we'd actually quite like to sell it cuz we don't need it anymore. So all of a sudden they have a new BATNA, The guy comes back, my colleague, and they say, Okay, so here's the deal. Like let's, let's go buy the machinery. And he says, No, no, I said, You're gonna go back and negotiate with Solanatar now and you're gonna let 'em know that you have a BATNA now. So they do and it's a very different negotiation. And initially Solantar says, We don't believe you. And they say, Well here's the guy's phone number. Give 'em a call. And they call 'em and they say, Okay, I guess it checked out. And so they had a very different negotiation. And so, you know, improving your BATNA is something that I think is very possible in a lot of situations.

If you challenge your assumptions and if you think creatively and you begin to sort of push the envelope about what's possible.

So what I try to say to folks is, I want you to think about, you know, where do your sources of power lie? I want you to think if you've got a really bad BATNA, how can you improve it? Are there people you can bring into this? And there are other stories along those lines of coalition building that help to change, you know, the power dynamic and things like that. But I think the most important thing again, is people not just throwing up their hands and going, I hope the powerful party throws me a couple of morsels here, because that never works out well. And the interesting thing as well is there's a lot of useful research that says when, when the more powerful party forces a less powerful party to reach a deal, those deals typically don't get implemented very well.

And you can understand why I didn't want to do it in the first place and you force me to do it, right? So I'm gonna drag my feed and I'm not gonna do it. I said I was gonna do cuz I didn't want this in the first place. Right? So I, I think it's, it's more complicated and I think the most important thing is people going in and saying, What can I do? Not, what can't I do?

AD : Yeah. One of the ways that we, you know, we've talked about kind of leveraging power imbalances is the power of relationship and developing really good relationships. You talk about coalition building. I'm curious if there are limitations to the value relationship in negotiation. Let me give you kind of the context here. I was sitting with a CEO recently of a family-owned business and he was sharing, you know, when he was getting his MBA that he wished there had been a course on managing family businesses, just given the sheer number of kind of businesses globally that fall in that category. And he was talking about the challenges that you would assume that when it's family owned, everybody just agrees. And that wasn't that they were actually much more complex just because of the connectedness and the history and everything.

So, I’m curious, is there a limitation to the, to either the value or the role relationship in negotiation? How do you think about that?

Are Relationships Are A RoadBlock To Purposeful Negotiations? [9:23]

JW : Well, I mean I would probably sort of bifurcate these just a little bit cuz family businesses, you know, they're intertwined with family relationships as opposed to sort of just building relationships with a business partner or, you know, things like that. So I think that, you know, family businesses are a sort of an animal unto themselves. As I mentioned when I, you know, when I went to Canada, my family had a family business and what I learned was that most family businesses run them like a family, not a business. And they don't have clear policies and other kinds of things that, that help to sort of disentangle a little bit the relationship in one regard and, and don't have it necessarily be at the center. I mean, we know that often we will say things to family that we wouldn't say to perfect strangers, right?

JW : So, I think family businesses have that added challenge, you know, and I've worked with a number of family businesses since, and my advice has always been, you know, it really seems to me like the problems you're having are relational in nature and don't really have much to do with your business at all. And I think what you need to do is start putting in policies and other kinds of things so that you're running this as a business and, you know, those relational elements will be there. I think more to the point when it comes to relationships more broadly when you're negotiating, I think they're, you know, the oil that greases the wheel and they're what make negotiations move from good to great because if I have a relationship with you Aram, I can say, you know, we hit a really difficult snag in a process.

JW : I can say, Listen man, you know, we've been dealing with each other for a long time here. There's gotta be a way we can figure this out, right? I can't say that to somebody who I don't have a relationship with. And in fact, there's another example in the book where the, this company got bought out and it wasn't going well and the, the, the people at the tops of these two companies knew each other well. And so that one company kinda left and tried to just kind of pull themselves away from this, this buyout and start a new company and it was gonna lead to a lawsuit until one of the sort of people involved reached out to this guy and said, Listen, you know, we've known each other a long time, let's go get lunch. Let's, you know, take out our pens and on the back of the napkin and let's figure something out. We can do that. And so they, they, salvaged a relationship as opposed to a really costly lawsuit that wouldn't have worked for anybody. So, I think relationships are key. I think that, you know, when you, as I said, I would put the sort of family business stuff and those relationships in a different category that I think actually requires a different way of approaching those situations.

AD : Thanks.

NM : So you've done a lot of thanking in regards to technology and negotiations, especially with your TEDtalk. So, over the last two years of the pandemic and as negotiations start to move from just person to person to over zoom, over a phone call or anything like that, what are your thoughts around how technology is going to play a role in future negotiations?

Josh Explains How Technology Is Going To Play A Role In Future Negotiations [12:28]

JW : Uh, it's here to stay for sure. There's no question about that. I'm one of the few people, maybe few. I don't know that, I don't think that's a bad thing. Part of the reason why I actually did the TED Talk on this subject is because I would talk to people and they would say, they would always say, Well, it's always preferable to negotiate in person. And that wasn't actually my experience, not necessarily me, but a lot of my students would say, you know, I'm finding that I use email at work, for example, a lot, and I'm finding it's easier for me to negotiate because I don't feel the stress of the other person on the other side of the table trying to push me to agree. I have time to think like I can step away. And when I get an email, a proposal via email, you know, I can take my time and think about all the pros and cons of a particular proposal.

And if I were to say yes, what would be the upside and the downside? So I think that, you know, there are some real benefits to using technology and, and I think, as I mentioned in the TED talk, I really like to think about these as, as different tools and, and sort of thinking them, thinking about them in a sequence as opposed to, you know, one or another. So, you know, I might start a negotiation via email and, and one of the things that people fail to do is they fail to shift from mediums when they're no longer seem to be helpful. So I'll, you know, start for example, in negotiation via email and I'll say, You know what? This isn't going well. Let's get on Zoom and let's talk it through, or let's get on the phone, or whatever it might be. And I certainly think that Zoom gives people an opportunity and an ability to pick up on a lot of things that technology had taken away, right? Context clues and non-verbals and other kinds of things like that, right?

I mean, I can see your body language right now and I can decipher what's going on. And in fact, there are some really interesting tools. MIT has developed a tool that helps people to read body language and facial expressions so that, you know, your negotiations can actually be aided by technology in a helpful way. So I, I think what you need to do is you really need to know yourself and you need to say, you know, what, what are the mediums that I'm most comfortable using and why? And, and, but importantly, you also have to really know that the pitfalls that come along with each technology, you know, that with a video conference you could have somebody sitting off camera recording things or, or you know, doing who knows what. And I think with email, you know, there are a lot of pitfalls.

JW : I mean, I think the biggest one is that, you know, the rule generally is if, if it can, if a message could be misinterpreted, it will be. And so you've gotta pause, kind of go to the balcony, step away and say, maybe I should ask this person what they really meant by that comment as opposed to just reacting and responding. But I also think that, you know, another great benefit of email is that we have selective perception and selective recall in our negotiations, right? That people remember what they want and perceive what they want. Well, email, and one great use of email that I use quite a bit is I will use email to summarize where we are in a process and what we've agreed to and things like that. So that three weeks later somebody says, I never agreed to that, or I never said that. I'll be like, Well, it's in this email right here and you know, I don't do it to trip people up or to trap them, but to make sure that we're on the same page. And so I think that there are benefits and, and you just have to understand the medium you're using and educate yourself about what are the best practices. And there's plenty of that stuff out there. You know, 10 tips for using email and when you negotiate and, and 10 things never to do, kind of thing.

AD : Right! As a follow up and kind of connected to what we were talking about relationship earlier, do you find that if the relationship is stronger, if we have a history, it's easier to switch to some of these modalities around technology and, and how about these substance of what we're trying to negotiate more complex versus less, less complex arrangements?

JW : For sure. On the relational piece of it, if, if you've got a better relationship and there's some interesting, a lot, you know, good bit of research that says if you've just met somebody once in person, your interactions are very different online, you know, you don't make assumptions and other kinds of things, you're much more likely to check yourself. I do think that the more complicated your negotiation is, you know, that that has a probably an inverse relationship to using technology. I think technology can get in the way if you've got many parties and many issues, I think that's gonna be difficult to use email around and things along those lines.

AD : So, you know, Josh, going back to backpacking across the world, to all the work you've done across a number of different in industries globally in business, government, nonprofit, profit, personal day to day negotiations, what do you find the same or different, whether it's in with regards to context or challenges that people face?

Challenges People Face When Negotiating [17:17]

JW : You know, I honestly think that the core of the process of negotiation is the same. I think what is different, and you know, when I, I mean, as you say, like I do a lot of work with a lot of varied folks. You know, I'm working with the National Park Service, I'm working with engineers. I'm actually headed down to Gettysburg next week to work with a group of folks in the Air Force. I, you know, I worked with museum directors recently, architects, I mean, it, it, so, so it's all over the place and there's, it's vast and numerous. What I notice is that the core of what, you know, makes effective negotiation is the same. I think it's the dynamics, it's understanding a particular industry and the nuances and the context. So in the military, you've got a hierarchy that you negotiate within, right? Other realms are different.

JW : And so one of the things that I try to do is, first of all, I don't purport to know more than I know. I go in and I say, Listen, this is gonna be more of a workshop. I'm gonna help you to learn how to negotiate more effectively, and I want you to bring in your nuances, your examples, your skills. And I usually ask for those beforehand anyways. Can you gimme five examples of problems and challenges that you confront so that I can weave them in and we can roll up our sleeves and deal with them together?

I think it's really important that people can conceptually understand what we're talking about. It's not rocket science, but when you have to apply it to your world and you have to say, What's going on here? Why aren't you getting there? What's the problem? There are dynamics and nuances that you have to understand within that industry. And like I said, I take more of a collaborative approach and I put that on folks and say, Tell me about it and tell me where are you struggling, Where's the sticking point? So, I think that would be the answer. And I think the other interesting answer is, is related to emotions, because I, I'm a firm believer that, you know, emotions are going to play a role here in every negotiation, right? Cause…….

AD : Say it ain't so!

JW : I wish I could, you know, but human beings are logical and emotional creatures. And if I were to say to you, Well, let's just leave logic out of negotiation, be like, Boy, this guy's an idiot, right? So it's the same thing with emotions. And so they always play a role, and the question is, how are you gonna manage that? As one of my students once said to me, Man, if we could just get rid of emotions, this stuff would be so much easier.

And I said, Of course it would. But that's not how human beings work. And so you have to get comfortable with it. You have to understand yourself. And there isn't a substitute for emotional intelligence when it comes to all of this. I mean, you know, coming from the military, a similar kind of thing where, you know, your instincts kick in and there's nothing you can do about that except manage it and try to, you know, enable your negotiations to play a positive role.

JW : You know, and there's a great book that maybe you've talked about called Beyond Reason, that was written by Dan Shapiro and Roger Fisher about how emotions play a role. They're gonna play a role and how you can use them to fuel yourself, You know? And it's funny because when I ask people, What emotions do you associate with negotiation? It's usually anger, frustration, confusion, right? Not passion and things like that. Not the positive things that drive us. Different industries are very different when it comes to emotions. You know, I work with a lot of engineers and they're brilliant, brilliant people. But when emotions start to play a role, there's a struggle that often ensues related to that. And some other realms are more comfortable with the emotional piece because they've, it's been part of what they've had to do.

NM : Well, Josh, you shared with us one great story in your book so far. Are there any other stories that you wanna share or think, you think, are we here so we get a good takeaway?

Josh Shares A Wonderful Story [20:57]

JW : You know, there's a great one, it's called Listening Them Down From A Tree. So I had the pleasure of talking to a number of hostage and crisis negotiators, and I wanted to include those cases because I feel like the kind of work they do is really interesting, and I think it's also not what people think it is, and that it's not what people imagine a process like that and how that process goes.

So, this particular story happens to have taken place in Calgary, Canada, and there was a guy named Arthur who was a native Canadian and his wife Mary, and they were methamphetamine addicts. And Arthur was perfectly content. They were like in their mid thirties. Arthur was perfectly content with their lifestyle. He was very happy. And to that point, Mary had been as well, but Mary realized that they were not gonna live a ripe old age <laugh> if they kept up what they were doing.

JW : And she said, You know what? I'm gonna check myself into a rehab clinic, Arthur, I really want you to come like, I love you more than the world itself, but I can't keep doing this. And, Arthur was like, No, you're ruining a great life we had, et cetera. And Mary said, Well, I'm, I'm sorry, but I gotta do this otherwise I don't see a positive future for us. So Arthur was furious, Mary. So Mary left and she checked herself into a rehab clinic on the outskirts of Calgary. And, Arthur was fuming. He was, you know, I, I think at the time also high on meth, but he decided that he was gonna teach Mary a lesson and he was gonna go, Mary had called him when she got to the rehab place and said, Look, this is a beautiful place. There's a really beautiful oak tree right outside my window, blah, blah, blah.

JW : So Arthur thought to himself, Okay, I know there's this big tree, I'm going down into the basement, I'm gonna get some rope and I'm gonna hang myself from that tree to show Mary how much she's destroyed our lives. So, he starts down this road, finds the rehab clinic, pulls up to the tree and is taking this stuff outta the back of his car, and a passerby notices something's not right, and says, Hey man, everything okay? And the guy says, Mind, you know, Arthur says, Mind your own business.

So, the guy’s like, Okay, this isn't good. So he calls 911, and that's where we enter Gary. So Gary is the crisis negotiator. The dispatcher calls him and says, Gary, need you here now. And they fill Gary in on what they know,, which was pretty limited. So Gary gets to the scene and Arthur is up in the tree with a noose and the rope hanging down, and Gary starts to talk to him and he says, So, what's going on friend?

JW : And they start talking and, and really Arthur's very standoffish and says, None of your business, go away. And he said, There's gotta be something that'll get you to come out of that tree. He said, The only way I'm coming outta this tree is in a body bag. So Gary's like, Okay, this is, you know, what do I do with this? And so that he continues the conversation. And it's beyond dusk now, and it's cold Calgary, end of October's pretty cold.

But Gary continues to try different angles and finally sort of comes back to this idea of, Come on friend, there's gotta be something that will get you out of that tree. And finally Arthur says, Well, if you can guess my native Canadian name, I'll come down. So Gary's like, Huh, okay, breakthrough, but how the hell am I gonna figure that out? So he says, Well, you gotta gimme a little bit of time. That's not an easy question, answer. I need to think about it. And Arthur says, Fine, go ahead.

So, Gary goes back, calls a dispatcher and says, I need you to get Mary on the phone, find her, and tell me what his native Canadian name is. So 10 minutes later, the dispatcher calls him back and he says, It's Running Buffalo. So Gary walks back over the tree, he says, It's Running Buffalo. And immediately Arthur throws the rope off, scurries down the tree, and collapses into Gary's arms. And Gary takes him to the ambulance that's waiting on scene and wraps a blanket around him. And he says, I gotta ask you, Arthur, what was with you asking me for your native Canadian name? And Arthur said, Look, you know, I didn't want to kill myself. I wanted a way to come down, but I couldn't lose.

JW : I had to, you know, he didn't use this language, but I had to find a way to save face. And with you guessing my name, we were sort of on par, right? It was a way for me to win. So when I talked to Gary about this, I said, What do people get wrong about hostage negotiation? And this wasn't a hostage, it was a crisis situation, right? And he said they get a couple things wrong.

The first thing is that they think that we just pull up with a bullhorn and demand you come out. And he said, and a lot of times people in crisis or hostage negotiations are expecting Arnold Schwartz and Ager and they get Mr. Rogers. And what he meant by that was that the primary tool in a hostage negotiator or crisis negotiator's tool bag is listening and building rapport, creating that sense of trust that you're gonna help them out of a situation that generally they've gotten themselves into and they didn't intend to.

JW : Some do, there's suicide by cop and things like that, but others it goes way too far, right? And so they need a way out, they need an off ramp. And he said, We're trying to build rapport and we're always listening for some way out. And I think that that's very different, you know? And I got to know this guy named Hum McGowan, who is the N Y P D hostage negotiation chief. He had done a documentary on A+E and e and it was called Talk to Me.

And I said, Hugh, why did they call it? Talk to me? Like What was the reason? And he said, Well, because that's what we do. That's what we lead most of the time, is talk to me, tell me what's going on, not I'm gonna tell you because they know that's the way in which you engage someone and get them to change behavior that is problematic and challenging.

So, I think it's fascinating. I think there's a lot to learn. You know, some of the business folks who have read the book have emailed me and said this, this story, you know, I didn't think there was anything that I could learn from these hostage and crisis negotiation situations, but there absolutely is the power of building rapport and things like that.

NM : Awesome story!

AD : Yeah. And I would say, yeah, a very awesome story. And I, I would say that it kind of leads into that there's things to learn there as a parent as well. You've written several books that I want to get and read and share with my kids on conflict resolution that you've oriented and geared towards children.

I'm the father of six. In fact, my oldest son just came to class with me this week, <laugh>. And he said very kindly after he goes, Dad, that was so interesting. He goes, I wanna come back for the rest of the lessons,. And it was, I, it was very touching, but I also kind of realized these kids had this interesting conflict resolution. And I'm just curious, you know, as you've written these books, what was the motivation? Why do you think it's important for kids to, you know, to engage kids at an early age on this topic?

Josh Answers Why It’s Important For Kids To Learn Conflict Management [27:49]

JW : Well, I think, listen, you know, if you're a father of six, you know, conflict is happening all the time, every day at your house, right? So….

AD : All the time, Yes!

JW : Right, so the question is, I mean, we help our kids with all kinds of other things in their lives. And, conflict is such a critical part of growing up. And usually kids are just gonna do the instinctual reaction and fight back and things like that, and they don't know. So you have to show them a different way. And I think also kids are open to that. They have a desire to sort of figure these things out, but they lack the skills and they lack the ability to do that. And my colleague and I, Greg Railer, who approached me to work with him on this, what we realized was yes, there are books on conflict in dealing with conflict, but not a ton that are storybook in nature. You know, there are, a lot of them use eye language and, and talk about themselves and not about them and don't use, you know, don't accuse and things like that.

JW : But there's not a lot. I mean, there are some, I don't wanna overstate it, but for us it was really about how do we root these skills that are tried and true in stories that kids can relate to. And I think it's also important that as we know, kids are a bit of a clean slate and they're not as jaded as us old folks, um, or some of us old folks in terms of what's possible in life. And so I think if you can help kids to learn the skills early on, then that's gonna help them as they go. And I know, for example, the one skill that my kids really resonated with was the idea of going to, going to the balcony and stepping away when you're angry. And I remember talking to my daughter who's 21, like two or three years ago, and she's like, Dad, gotta go to the balcony.

JW : I'll come down to the office when I'm ready to talk to you. I think it's that, you know, we teach all kinds of things to our kids and it's almost incomprehensible that we don't teach them how to deal with conflict when it's on the playground. Tommy took my pencil, it's, it's everywhere. And I think we have a real opportunity to help kids to learn from an early age that there's a way to handle this stuff effectively and constructively. And so, and I actually have another book probably coming out in the next week or two. It's another children's book. It's actually kind of like Harry Potter meets Conflict Resolution. It's for, it's for eight to 11 year olds. And, it's my Covid project and I really ran with it. But I'm excited about it cuz I think it's really fun and it kind of teaches skills through science and magic and all kinds of other things. So it's called Dr. Mc Fiddle's, Brilliant Book Of Conflict Potions.

AD : I'll be, I'll be looking for it. We got some holidays coming up. I think I know some things on the list. How do you find the time to do all this stuff between teaching and advising and training and coaching and, and writing? You're, you're pretty busy.

JW : You know, I think I got used to using whatever little pieces of the day. I had to do different things. And so I'll just start writing something and then I'll come back to it and go to something else. And as I often say to my kids, they're like, I'm so bored. I'm like, Guys, boredom is, is, just a lack of creativity. Go, you know, start, write, write something or, you know, get a, get a, a pad and, and start drawing or what do whatever. And so I just, I, I like doing it. I think one of the nice things, I never went down the road of tenure. I just talked to friends who had gone down it and just said that it wasn't a fun process. And I said, Why am I gonna do that to myself? I don't, I don't need it. And I really love, I love to write when I have something to say, you know, for me it's, it's just a fun outlet to, to do things like that and, and hopefully to inspire others cuz we need more and more books for kids and other ways of helping them to learn all of this.

NM : Well, Josh, as we start to wrap all this up, I just wanna say thank you so much for joining us on the podcast and I'll kind of turn over to Aram here for some final thoughts.

Final Takeaways [31:44]

AD : Sure. Well, and I'm gonna echo and say thank you. Would, like, before I give kind of my thoughts, which can't summarize the last hour, anything we didn't hit on Dr. Weiss that you would like, just like to emphasize that, that's really key for our listen's takeaway.

JW : Listen,, I think the most important thing is, as I said before, this isn't rocket science. Like this is something anybody can do. It requires knowledge and learning and commitment. But you can get better at this without question. And I think it's up to you to make the commitment to do that. There are a lot of wonderful books out there that will help you to do that. And they're very easy reads, you know, this isn't a dense academic kind of stuff. So I just think we have to sort of empower people and say, Hey, this is something you can do and the only person standing in your way of doing it is you. And if you see the value in it and the value of what we've been talking about for the last hour and whatever it is, then roll up your sleeves and do it.

JW : And it, you won't be disappointed that much I can tell you. All you need to do is have one success to say, Wow, this, this does work and this can really help me, not only in your work life by the way, and Aram can attest to this, but in your home life and in the world around you. I mean, you will be amazed how when you begin to look at the world through the prism of negotiation, how much of your day looks like that. So, I would just encourage people to, to get into it and, and you won't be sorry.

AD : Thank you. Nolan, that's summarized better than I can. So, I’m gonna pass it back to you.

NM : Absolutely! Thank you. Thank you so much for listening to us on the NegotiationX podcast. Greatly appreciate it. Please rate, review, subscribe to the podcast if you haven't done so already, and we'll see you in the next episode.

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