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We give you actionable advice so you can elevate your influence through purposeful negotiation—helping you overcome the hurdles you face in business and life to become even more successful.
Hi folks! Welcome back to the NEGOTIATEx podcast. We are continuing our conversation with Max Bevilacqua, the Chief Negotiation Officer Of Max Negotiating, a negotiation advisory and training company supporting cyber, humanitarian, and environmental negotiations.
If you haven’t already checked out Part A of this episode, be sure to do that first. Now, without further ado, let’s resume our conversation with Max.
Max was deeply influenced by the training community while working with Vantage. Over there, he got the opportunity to talk about his experiences and what he learned negotiating over the years. He could also share his wins and failures in the training room, which he strongly feels is the right way to learn negotiation skills.
Upon quitting Vantage, he truly missed having those conversations, and that’s why he started his new podcast series to keep those fascinating conversations going. The podcast series helped him create a space for individuals who wanted to learn something new and keep developing as trainers.
When negotiation experts come on his podcast, talk about their experiences and what they have learned, and break it down, it exposes the listeners to the language of interest-based negotiations. What’s more, it exposes people to a wide range of topics relative to negotiations, giving them a broader perspective on how to deal with negotiations.
Max strongly believes that such topics include a significant amount of literature, certainly more than what’s acceptable within the conventional sphere when it comes to learning negotiations. Some topics even come under the umbrella of interpersonal skills, exercise, and therapy, which Max believes to be quite powerful.
As we focus more on the legal corporate sales side of things, Max fears that we might lose some of the most powerful pieces of negotiation. We should never forget that negotiation is a matter of the heart as well as the mind, even if it’s not marketed that way.
According to Max, the best way to learn negotiations is by co-training because it gives you the scope to have someone who’s constantly watching you provide you with feedback. Thus, you end up learning more.
Rather than just telling people how they should communicate, co-training sets the stage for two people modeling it, which is more effective than just telling people what they should do. Mr. Bevilacqua also strongly feels that negotiations need to be demonstrated, not told or taught, because visuals are more powerful than verbal communication or active listening.
When asked which concept Max finds the most effective to train or teach negotiations, he replies, “The Seven Elements Of Negotiation.” What Max loves the most about this concept is that it discusses the weight of each element since the properties of all these elements are different. For instance, the value of communication might be different than the value of relationships in a negotiation.
Furthermore, it helps readers realize that negotiation is a process and that it takes time. Max is also a huge fan of The Circle of Value Approach to Negotiation by Bruce Patton, which discusses how successful negotiations can help strengthen relationships.
Other than that, he also mentions the importance of the ladder of inference when it comes to nailing negotiations. For those who don’t know, it is a framework that explains how people make decisions. Max strongly believes that all these are great tools for a negotiation trainer who has just started.
Next, Aram asks Max to highlight how he frames conversation when he’s in prison since talking objectively might not work there. In reply, Max cites James Gilligan, husband of a renowned American psychologist, Carol Gilligan.
Having worked with mental hospitals and prisons for several years, Mr. Gilligan concluded that violence is like a disease and the pathogen is – shame. Violence is often found in people from low socioeconomic status, especially those with low self-esteem. According to James Gilligan, violence is a form of expression of the overwhelming shame these people carry, and that’s why conversations surrounding violence and shame should take place while negotiating in prisons.
Max suggests that there is a massive waste of human capital in prisons. There are so many things the prisoners could be doing had they not been inside a prison. Also, it has been found that prisoners are often geniuses, but because of their criminality and their violent expressions toward society, they belong in prison.
An idea that Max picked while studying religious studies is that the things that society pushes to the farthest out to the periphery are actually reflective of what’s inside of it. So, he strongly feels that prisons are incredibly reflective of our values as a society.
Aram suggests that the word “negotiation” has a negative connotation and asks Max if there’s a better word for it. However, Max feels that it depends on how one views the word.
The word negotiation itself doesn’t mean anything negative or bad. Negotiation is, in fact, an amalgamation of many things, including behavioral science, psychology, sociology, and many more, and there’s hardly anything wrong with it.
Unfortunately, whenever people hear the term “negotiation,” they get reminded of the hassle they went through while they were in a negotiation at some point. That’s why they tend to perceive negotiation negatively and fail to take the broader perspective that comes with it.
Lastly, Max highlights a social component when it comes to negotiation training, which he considers crucial in learning the process. For instance, he claims to be more confident while providing negotiation training with his colleagues, his biggest source of inspiration.
Collaboration helps aid a growth mindset and make negotiators humble, which is an absolute must for anyone who aspires to be a purposeful negotiator or a negotiation trainer. According to Max, negotiation training is more egalitarian, and there is always a scope for growth and learning.
Thank you for listening.
Nolan Martin : Hey everyone, thanks for joining us on the NEGOTIATEx podcast. We are continuing our conversation with Max Bevilacqua. Did I say that right, Max?
Max Bevilacqua : It sounded even more beautiful than I say, yeah.
NM : All right, perfect. The Chief Negotiation Officer of Max Negotiating a negotiation advisory and training company supporting cyber humanitarian and environmental negotiations. If you haven't already checked out part A of this episode, be sure to do that first.
Let's jump into the conversation with Max. So Max, you started a podcast that's focused on those of us who train these materials. How is this going and what are some of those key points that you shared with your listeners?
MB : It's going terribly Nolan, I'm just kidding.
MB : No, it's great. It started really just as a social thing. So, I have my co-host Gwen Kraus and both at Max Negotiating and in the podcast, we are expanding- meaning that the name will likely change as well. But it really started because, you know, when I was at Vantage, one of my responsibilities was working with the trainer community.
And I loved that. It's having these conversations. It's talking about our experiences on the road as well as what we learned, sharing our wins and our not “as much of wins” in the training room. And I think that's where the real learning is, right? And that's where the real humility is. And I missed those conversations. And because of Covid and, you know, not traveling or having those after-the-training dinners together, I wanted to keep those conversations going. And, also that community going because of the feeling that there's so many of us that are inspired in a similar way.
MB : And if we were, you know, at different parts of the table representing different organizations, I have a lot of faith in us to collaborate and to do good things. And so I'm very interested in continuing the community of whether you wanna call it the Harvard Negotiation Project or the program on negotiation, or its many branches.
I wanted something that was a container space for people to continue developing as trainers cuz we're not done developing. And it's also awkward being a younger person, feeling like I needed to go out on my own, but not feeling like I have attained expertise, right? I'm still developing and still need mentorship as I think many of us do.
So right now it's kind of this morphed into also a little bit of like a self-led training circle as well. Both to come on the podcast and talk about your experiences and what you've learned and, and to break it down and to kind of expose people to the vocabulary and language of principle or interest based negotiation.
MB : And also to lead sessions in something that they're interested in relative to negotiation. Because for me, the field ought to include or does include a much larger amount of literature than I think is accepted within the traditional canon. And I think I've mentioned some of that with like, you know, family therapy and stuff.
You know, one of the people we work with who I'm a big fan of, Jodi Shire, was a Cambridge area family therapist that Roger Fisher watched do some trainings and then adopted that to the IPS exercise. And that for me, this interpersonal skills exercise was one of the most powerful, powerful things. It's essentially Gestalt therapy.
And my feeling is also as we move to the like legal corporate sales piece of thing, we lose some of the most powerful pieces of the negotiation and forget that it is a matter of the heart as well as the mind, even if it's not sexy to market it that way. So, I dunno if that was responsive to your question. I'm just really…..
Aram Donigian : It's great and I think it's so necessary. You know, it was interesting cuz I just recently saw Gwen, so a shared colleague there and we had the conversation, which is the power being in the room with a fellow trainer when we do these [corporate trainings] is that the way you present something, maybe a shift, even if it's small, but a lot of times it's not from the way that I've done it a thousand times and I just had this experience with another co-train recently in the way that she did something around the ladder of inference was different than how I typically approach it.
And she kind of backed into it versus kind of leading folks into it. And I thought it was, it was really helpful to create that aha moment. And I said, ah, I'm stealing that, right.
AD : And as you said before, as you know, as we, as we get more comfortable with, Hey, is it mine? Is it yours? Does it matter who, you know where they came from? If we're getting it out there and we're helping people more and more effectively influence the dialogue, that's again what I interest about your podcast, which certainly connect folks there to make sure we make the connection.
Yeah. And part of, you know, having you on here is to, the reason that Nolan and I do this is let's get more folks from diverse perspectives and thoughts and create this great dialogue and kind of this and you know, and that encyclopedia or library of different thought leaders. So that's available to folks.
MB : Amen. And I think not only is co-training so wonderful because it's a way of getting that development another pair of eyes that's watching you that can give you feedback as well as learning from another trainer, which, you know, happens in every session. The idea of having two trainers mirrors family therapy, mirrors the, the co-facilitation, which is meant to be a corrective experience for parents, right?
So, to some degree you're telling people how they should communicate, but having two people modeling it is more sticky and useful than actually telling people. So, I remember that, you know, again, in my negotiation workshop experience, I remember the way that the professor and the TA spoke to one another.
That's what I remember and that's where I take my cues from. Not like you need to active listen. Right? Like, that's just not as powerful as seeing it. So I think negotiation needs to be demonstrated, not told or taught. And co-facilitation helps you do that with, again, something that I think is corrective a corrective experience to the way maybe you hoped your parents spoke to each other.
AD : Right, right! That's a really, that's a really good point cuz if you've ever been in the room with somebody else, it's however long that program lasts. It's constantly a negotiation as you work that, you know, getting into kind of some of the specifics, if folks go to your website, the seven element model that we've seen from Vantage and others, you know, comes up.
You know, I'm just curious, as you teach and train this material, are there certain concepts that you find more sticky or less sticky, more difficult to train or teach? Especially as you look back maybe after this semester? Why and why do you think that is? Why are there certain concepts that are harder for folks to grasp?
MB : Yeah, I think the seven elements is probably the best we have, I believe first in designing it differently. So as you may have seen, I have like a periodic table vibe going on. And the reason is because the weight of the elements and their properties are different. I think people struggle with it at first because it's abstract and also specifically because the communication element carries way more weight than it really ought to linguistically.
It's a process, it's time, it's so many things that I think it, it really, we get stuck in relationship communication, which my understanding is that this was the genesis for difficult conversations after getting to Yes, was okay, relationship and communication are much more complex. Bruce's circle of value is an amazing, simple, basic strategic prescription to say, generally speaking, you're gonna be in good shape if you're here.
MB : I love that. And, also delineating integrative bargaining from the distribution alternatives and commitment is great. With that being said, I think it's a really helpful organizing tool for trainers and I don't think it's super intuitive for students as much as I'd like it to be, cuz I love it. It's how I, it's how I organize all of the tools. It's the super structure, right.
Stakeholder mapping goes within relationship attachment theory goes within relationship tone of voice communication, ladder of inferences. You know, the first thing you should do under communication. So, I think if you have seven elements in the ladder of inference, you're, you're ready for the rest of your life to keep going. There's some, I'm gonna butcher this, there's some flaws like Heger or someone and he can, he went to one of his teachers or someone came to him and said like, okay, I've been reading Aristotle for like 10 years, which I do now.
MB : And he was like, read it for 40 more, right? The idea is that we have enough stuff, we have enough intellectual property, I think the concepts are good, but we need to be very aware that it comes from white collar negotiation, right?
Like, I also do work in prisons. I dare you to speak that way. Like using objective criteria in a prison, good luck. Right? So, I think to some degree we have intellectualized, the models are helpful because they intellectualized things, but for many of us, myself included, that's a defense mechanism from actually being present and connected, right. I know how to do this, right?
And sometimes what someone is asking for is you to just be present to listen to them. So I think there's an irony that we're kind of model and framework obsessed, but I do think that, you know, if you're trying to learn negotiation, you need to know the seven elements. And if someone has their new take on it, great. Yeah, I know we all need to sell stuff, but generally speaking, I believe that everything fits into those, though again, the reason for a periodic table is to say that the relationship and communication elements are so heavy and if they were to be displayed graphically, they ought to be bigger. If that makes sense, right.
The idea that they each have equal weight, that their one seventh of a negotiation is wrong.
AD : That's a nice insight. And I like the kind of illustrative nature of you putting it on a period act table that talks about weights and properties. Can you give us a little bit more, you said you go into prisons and obviously.
MB : I've given you both enough, I'm just kidding.
AD : Absolutely I love it! How do you reframe the conversation when you go into a prison since talking about objective criteria doesn't work? Can you give us a little bit of that, what that sounds like?
MB : Sure. So, one of my other heroes besides Roger Fisher is Dr. James Gilligan, who is the husband of Carol Gilligan, who wrote in a different voice when most of the psychological literature was really just from the perspective of men. So he's the husband and he, people are gonna have to fact check me here, but he was in some capacity put in charge of running prison hospitals and mental hospitals and prisons. And my understanding is that, so he's written several books. One of them is Violence Reflections on a National Epidemic.
And his findings were basically that violence is like a disease and the pathogen is shame. So you can make it more likely when you have people socialized as male from low socioeconomic status, meaning they don't have other avenues for self-esteem. And that violence comes from being dissed or disrespected, right? And that shame, it's a response to overwhelming shame.
MB : The type of shame that you cannot live with that causes either self-mutilation or the mutilation of others as kind of an expression. And that's the other idea is that violence is destructive and random sometimes, in terms of war and battlefield. But when it's, it's personal in terms of homicide and suicide, it's expressive. It has a language of its own. And so these are the types of conversations I believe should be in the negotiation field.
So, when I was in undergrad, I did GED tutoring in a detention facility through Elise Willer, who's one of our amazing colleagues, connected to this guy named Ben Littauer, who runs the Jericho Circle Project. And what the Jericho Circle Project does is it takes its inspiration from what's called the inside circle. And there's a documentary called The Work. And basically what they do is people come to the prisons and when I'm in the prison, I'm not leading anything. I'm one of the participants.
I'm one of the participants showing up in a circle, doing my own work and trying to get over the fact that like, you know, I've had a lucky life and like, “oh, boohoo I'm from the poor side of a yachting town, et cetera.” You show up and you do your work and that's the way you honor the people around you.
I'm like, you know, there's psychodrama, it's IPS. You could be enrolled as the inner child, as someone who's being abused, right? You help people do that work and work through, and what you find, which is, you know, maybe not surprising, but can be startling is, you're not better than anyone, you're not worse than anyone, right? Like, these are people and they respond in ways that like, maybe you would've responded. And so just like ransomware, you start to find, like, I would call this negotiation or negotiating with self or facilitating negotiation with self is just self-development.
MB : And I think the dovetails with leadership and all of that. But I think just like in cyberspace, I don't want to just be in the situation when things are bad. I'd love to talk about our wasted potential in prisons. Talk about human capital waste. The United States needs like, oh my God. Like there, there is genius in prisons and, and there's criminality outside of them. And so, you know, I'll leave it there.
But for me, there's an idea that I learned in religious studies, which is that the things that society pushes to the farthest out to the periphery are actually reflective of what's inside of it.
AD : Right.
MB : So, I think prisons are incredibly reflective of our values as a society. And also in terms of our theory of change. If it is a corrections facility, which at least in Massachusetts, they're so named.
MB : Then correct! Right? And, per our own influence and, and negotiation literature, that command and conquer and pure power, coercive power, it has the opposite effect. And there's a saying that Gilligan has that I, he may be quoting someone else, but it's something like, no one feels more innocent than a prisoner. No one feels more guilty than a saint, or just the idea is that when you punish people, they feel less guilty. And so, yeah I think there's a larger negotiation in society in terms of the way we view the potential of people. And you'll get the prisons that has to be one of the biggest deadweight losses in society.
NM : That's pretty interesting
AD : Tremend passion there.
NM : So you also do a fair amount of work around mediation. So let's hoping we can kind of talk a little bit about that and how do negotiation skills show up when mediating and what do you find to be different?
MB : Well, I just have to say at this moment I'm so much more curious in what you both do and how you came to the field. I can, I think you like, get the vibe of how, I think to some degree, like mediating to me is facilitated negotiation. It's the pursuit of what we want. And I believe adding extra parties enables there to be an adult in the room, which I think we desperately need in many organizations and departments.
But, you know I'm curious how the degree to which you've seen things that are similar or the way in which you see negotiation phenomenologically is different or, you know, what's your spin or what's your school.
AD : I mean, so, you know, Max, I would say that, you know, you and I both know Jeff Weiss and have roots in similar thinking from Jeff and Bruce and others who've just invested so much time over the last, you know, what is it now, 40 plus years, probably going 50 years for some of our colleagues. Yeah. And I think what you're, what we've heard you share is through experience saying this works.
And as we kind of grow and mature in the process to say whether we think of them as elements or we think of them as levers. I've got some power that's beyond force and threat. If that, I mean, if that's all you had in your kit bag was force and threat, and there's certainly times to use force and threat. But if that's all you have, then, then you're gonna treat every situation.
AD : And there are plenty of situations going into a prison operating in a family in business, right? And certainly, you know, where Nolan and I are coming from in the military where the emphasis on relationship and communication or deep diving in and understanding, you know, the power of interests and drivers and what those interests are, especially when they're not being expressed, they're hidden because they're very personal and they're, they're around fears and self protection.
And they're not gonna be things that are just gonna roll off the tongue as you start to try, you know, ask me why, what's driving me? But we've seen those, you know, in some very difficult situations deployed and the success of being able to employ these concepts in a way that's consistent with who I am and who we are and how we see the world.
To be able to, again, to practice an experience that said this is real. How do we get others to see that, right? And be able to step outside their status quo, their natural approach and say, let me try something else that may be a little uncomfortable at first and can yield much better outcomes and results.
MB : Yeah. And what I, what I hear in, and you were saying that is double loop learning and just the idea of like, okay, you shouldn't expect different outcomes from the same behavior and you're not gonna have different behaviors just because, you know, some guy in a suit says, try this word or, or time it in the morning when your boss is holding a warm beverage, an actual study on receptivity. Yeah. It comes from like, you know, what are your assumptions in surfacing those and and challenging them? And to some extent that's also cognitive behavioral therapy.
Like what are the relationships amongst your thoughts, feelings and behaviors and how they reinforce each other? Yeah, I mean exactly, right?. Like, and I think when you talk to people who, who get it are in this space, you're just like, yep. Yeah, preach.
NM : And I think that's how we tie it back to NEGOTIATEx is like, through this podcast here and just tons of different viewpoints, different thoughts, you know, we obviously have our pretty tight circle of Vantage, Harvard lineage and everything like that, but then there's plenty of people that are bringing on the podcast that are not in that same school thought.
And what we'd like to say is, Aram and I can basically take something from every single person we brought on, even if, you know, we're not rooted in the same teachings or the same philosophy around negotiations. And so yeah, just trying to add more tools to the kit bag, I think is, is what we're trying to do here. And I think that that is the value that we provide to the community. So….
AD : Yeah. I'm so tired of vilifying what we see, the vilifying of somebody who just sees the world differently. A different perspective, right. A different conclusion. And you know, you said we're already armed with everything. We are. And there is power in mediation. I agree. It's facilitated negotiation. That tends how I see it. I think the skills overlap. I know we asked you that, and a lot of times we don't get the benefit of a mediator, it just doesn't exist. I've gotta be able to show up and act like a mediator in the situation, you know, as I'm actually negotiating or discussing.
And I think that the limited mindset of what is negotiation or conflict and, you know, and when we don't practice these skills intentionally, that gets us into a lot of trouble.
MB : Is negotiation the best word for us? to unite, like, we've both doubled down to some degree Max Negotiating and NEGOTIATEx. But was that a mistake for us?
AD : Oh, what a great way, man. You've obviously thought about it, so I'll turn the question as a good, as a good teacher, right. So what do you think Max, great
MB : Great facilitator
AD : For ? What? I mean, the problem with the word is so loaded for folks and it immediately triggers, unfortunately probably the worst experience that every person has ever had in a negotiation. And so it triggers the haggle, the threat, the, sometimes you're the bug, sometimes you're the windshield, you know? Sure, I hope I'm the windshield this time around. It's a great question. I mean, you've thought about this. If you're gonna ask what are you, what's your thought on it? Is there a better word?
MB : I think it depends on if you see the word or you see like the word normatively or as it is, like the way that it should be or the way that as it is. As it should be, I believe that negotiation is the right concept, right? It's the right concept. There's a debate in probably many fields, but specifically in religious studies, which is- warning, unnecessary words coming- but the idea of is religious studies epiphenomenal? Like is it actually a real thing or is it just several other disciplines combined?
Or is it sui generis of its own creation? Is it its own thing? I don't think negotiation is its own thing. I think that it's behavioral science, psychology, sociology, et cetera, et cetera. It's important distinction. And I think it is the right banner for even, you know, the work of your internal voice and communicating with yourself and shadow self in all of that personal work. I think that's within negotiation. So, normatively it should be right.
Sorry Aram, do you have…?
AD : No it's just that what you just said is a huge shift for so many folks.
MB : Yeah. And, and so yeah,
AD : Right? Because I think most folks would say it, it is its own thing. They wouldn't take the broad perspective that you just described it as and how it's part of these other disciplines.
MB : And these are the dangers of a liberal arts education, as the world is. I think it's not the most effective word. And therefore as negotiators, we probably ought to think about expanding it. I think it's important, and I don't know about you, but one of the reasons that I do keep negotiation as one of the words is because I want to be involved with the events that people identify as negotiations. I don't wanna exclude myself from peace talks and songs, et cetera.
AD : And I hope that in the process, I mean, as you're doing right, we started with this around the cyber and humanitarian and environmental let's broaden at the same time, right? And it does involve conversations and so much of what we, you know, it starts with me and how I show up and, and what's going on in my own mind. I'm curious, you know, you've started this again, just so many endeavors amazed at what you're doing.
The next generation practitioners circle this idea that it's to, you know, help the pursuit of pareto optimality help create pareto optimal action solutions. Are these the sort of conversations around what we define, you know, defining this negotiation in this forum? Why do you find this forum critical to have these discussions amongst, amongst peers?
MB : Yeah. It has a social component that I don't wanna underplay. Like a lot of it is just like, look, part of the irony, I think in the negotiation space is the conflict within it. And the fact that it is as fractured as it is if we talk about collaboration and leveraging shared resources. So this is in some ways an attempt to create a space that isn't a business or capitalized space that is just, okay, you're people who love this stuff let's be together in that.
And, you know, as someone who went out on their own, having my colleagues was an enormous source of not just inspiration, but I feel very confident in the things that the type of work we do can do for others, but less so when I'm on my own right. And I'm like, oh, what do I even know?
MB : You know, like… So, to some degree, it has a social component, but also just like when people are traveling around the world right now, like there's some filtering and functionality where if you're in Brussels, great, you can see which trainers are there. So either you can refer work there if you need to, or you can grab a beer with that person or whatever you drink . But the other space is to continue development.
And so that's continued development selfishly for trainers that don't feel that have a growth mindset, right? That we're still developing. And it's a space where we're trying to create those norms of, of humility and continued learning. And also to create a space for people who graduate from programs or who are interested in this field to enter.
Because from my perspective, you know, A: where does a negotiation training program belong?
MB : Business school, law school, industrial organization? Don't know. I would argue that in terms of, you know, we were talking about in terms of modeling, negotiation and training it as opposed to teaching it from a book. What is a BATNA, what is a ZOPA? Which doesn't, I think to my mind, do much for a negotiator in action.
Maybe it doesn't belong in a university, right? And so for me, I'm also thinking about like, great, what if we just thought about the most rigorous rewarding training program, right? And also welcomed people who are trying to get into the field without kind of going through the classic, you know, you're a teaching assistant analyst, whatever it may be, which to me is, is part of, part of the Harvard tradition of a rigid hierarchy that doesn't enable the creativity that I think that we need.
So, in some ways it's meant to be more egalitarian, we're all trainers, we're all trying to learn. But I'm also very curious about the question, not only what do you think about the word negotiation, but to have it informed by other sessions. So the one that we're having later today is on non-violent communication, which I think is a huge missing piece in program on negotiation. You're both invited to any and all of these things, and also open to your ideas to 'em as well. Cause it really is a group endeavor.
But for me it's, it's a place where we get to ask the questions where we're not constrained by the client. Right? Or, or an organizational hierarchy where people can just say like, Hey, I think this is bullshit, or I don't like the way we talk about that, or whatever it may be. It's, it's really to get that feedback that you would get in the room or after a training with a co-train as well as to, you know, hopefully create, if we believe that diversity is a source of value, which I think we should, we need more people in the field and from different backgrounds.
MB : And so I'm part of the traditional group and that I went through a university, right? But if you don't go to a program on negotiation school and you don't have those means or those opportunities, we still need perspective, right? Like, you know, I remember negotiating as a bartender trying to get my job back after being let go. Right? That's a different negotiation. And those are the stresses specifically when you add financial stress, such a different component cuz people's time horizons change, right?
Like, it's very easy to judge people for like, oh, why do you eat shitty food? Why do you smoke cigarettes? You're trying to get through the day. Right? Like different stressors, different things we're walking around with. So we need the perspectives for people that a, before they turn, whatever age you are at grad school, you're having impactful negotiations when you're much younger, but also from places and communities where we don't have great representation and where we're probably not the right people to go into that community and say, Hey, here's what, let's do this. Right? Like, if we believe in the influence that we need buy-in from the parties, then we also need representation from those parties. Harvard law skews a certain way.
AD : Well it's, it's about, it's interesting. It's about reach and contact points and it's A, I love how you're challenging us to think about how we traditionally do that. And we do have some traditional approaches both on the academic side and the corporate training side, you know, and, and we have some colleagues that are doing other things, right. Making it more accessible.
MB : For sure.
AD : Even you know, Dr. Josh Weiss's recent book on, you know, for kids is another one, right? How do we, how do we get these materials into our hands earlier? Yeah, it's a great question, Max
MB : Actually, his work is fantastic. I'm pulling up, the book has a great title. I don't want to butcher it, but his new book is great and I think he has other children's books and that's exactly the type of stuff we're talking about. I'm like, this is something that we sent around in the next generation negotiation practitioner circle, just creative ways of expanding the circle.
And that includes an age, right? Let's norm this, because I think an issue that I think we've been dancing around too is that it's hard to negotiate skillfully in a culture or a society that is gonna push back on that type of behavior, or is gonna say, wow, you're, you're just listening and you're not taking a position publicly or you changed your mind. You're open to persuasion, which we know is the way to be persuasive. You're a flip flopper, right?
MB : Not that that can't happen, but we have a culture. And look, for me, negotiation is a way of coding communication as more masculine. That's it. It's communication. But I think at least personally, my connotations of like communications majors and, and marketing and media, it gets diluted and it becomes anti academic, even soft.
And look, at Fletcher, there's a saying that the flagship degree is, is a MALD master of arts and law diplomacy. There are War MALDs and there are Peace MALDs. The War MALDs are insecurity, the peace MALDs are in development. They're both negotiating, right? Maybe security deals more with the alternative of violence, et cetera. But to me it's pretty obviously gendered in the sense that we have different expectations of how hard and legitimate it is, how much you get paid, et cetera, et cetera. So I think negotiation is an easier way to sell communication training.
NM : Interesting. So Aram and I are always interested in how negotiating skills show up in the personal life. So we always like to ask the question, how's this show up in your personal life? And yeah, I'm interested to hear your thoughts on that.
MB : Absolutely has , it's a wide and a deep question. It absolutely has. It changes the way I think about relationships. And I think for me, I used to see relationships as zero sum, right? Like both specifically romantic ones, but others as well where, you know, if I'm spending time here, that's time away from you, right?
And so for me, part of the negotiators, and this is a whole, this might be a, a large left turn, but there's a book called The Ethical Slut that I believe belongs in the negotiation literature. And it's mostly about communication and active listening. It's not endorsing polyamory, but it's talking about our definition of resources of love and sex, et cetera. And so I think for me, it's helped me understand that I'm not interested in relationships where my growing or expanding with other people in other ways comes at the expense of that relationship, right?
Like, are there not arrangements in families, in organizations, teams, couples, whatever it may be that are more pareto optimal for whatever reason? And do we not sometimes squeeze out creative solutions and create deadweight loss by trying to force things in the same box?
So, yeah. So for me, I definitely look at relationships a bit differently and hopefully on a good day as less zero sum more like how can we make each other's worlds bigger and better?
NM : Yeah, yeah, absolutely.
AD : Before we kind of get into wrap up, I want to hit one more thing you've been involved in, which is Pathways. I'd love to hear a little more about what that is, what it's about, why you find that work important too. Cuz I think it's a little different than anything else you've shared so far.
MB : Sure, yeah. In some ways it's different. So, Pathways is an organization that's led by Avi Goldstein, who's another one of our colleagues at Vantage. And you can kind of see the power of, of this Roger Fisher discipleship or line of thinking, and that people, followers go out and, and start their own things.
And this is one of those offshoots, they do really incredible work in terms of training and negotiation stuff in Israeli-Palestinian context. So, they're in Israeli schools. Avi, I also believe, is currently based in Belgium. And so he's working in Belgium public schools and you know, not dissimilar from creating children's books, it's targeting people at a younger age, right? People who will become leaders in society and, and teaching them norms and ways of thinking that are hopefully integrative.
It's hard to ignore Israel Palestine, even though it's very difficult to talk about. I'm an American Jew even though my father is Catholic and all that family stuff. But, so I feel a good amount of responsibility. Yeah, I mean I think most people can agree, especially we don't have to get super into it, but with a far right-leaning Israeli government, I mean, it's heartbreaking.
It's heartbreaking all around. And you see this tendency, I think in the US you see this tendency in Britain you see it in a lot of spaces and places this kind of like far right religiosity, which I would argue is antithetical to skillful negotiation. And that it's literal and flexible definition Orthodox. So it's important for me to be involved in work like that. We also have colleagues at C MP, Ken Hyatt and, and Naim and Liz McClintock that do awesome work at NSI.
So, I'm tangentially involved and in this space, but honestly, another thing that I negotiate is my identity often even as a white dude, you know, I have an Italian Catholic father and American Jewish mother, Ashkenazi Jews, and you know, what does it mean to me to be a Jew? Right? What, what is my relationship to Israel, right? How do I talk about this publicly? Do I not, or do I just shut up? So there are a lot of internal negotiations that I have. And so negotiation has more than anything been a way for me to more diplomatically deal with myself.
AD : It's a nice tie back to the question Nolan had asked you before too, right? Which is, it is about relationships which can then be outward focus. And so much of that comes back to how we're negotiating with ourselves, our identities. And how, you know, who we are, our own mindset. Thank you for the work that you're doing through Pathways. Thanks for all the work. I'm gonna turn it over to Nolan to kind of maybe take us into wrap up here.
NM : Yeah, absolutely. So is there anything else that we didn't ask you, Max, that you wanna cover as we wrap this podcast episode up.
AD : Or even a key takeaway, max? Well, if you had one thing to tell our listeners, one thing to tell our students, what would it be to become a more effective negotiator?
MB : Wow!
NM : No pressure
MB : So, first of all, love the last question of what did we forget to ask? I think that's a great takeaway for anyone that if you wanna make sure that if your intent or purpose is to make someone feel heard, then it's great. Not just ask 'em questions and to listen, but then to ask what did I, what did I not ask? So I think it's a very skillful question. You asked such probing questions that I shared a great deal more than I even thought.
So, I don't think there's anything there. I do want to just add that, you know, in attributing things that one of the guys that does the prison work, who is instrumental in bringing it from inside circle on the west coast to here is Steven Spitzer. And I don't think I mentioned that. And so I wanted to do that.
MB : You know, there's something ironic in terms of asking for negotiation advice because if you're not receptive to it doesn't mean anything. Right? Like, why should you listen to me? Okay. Maybe you think because I'm with these strapping military gentlemen that I am important. Yeah, maybe so, and there are social proving aspects to all of this. So I would, I would just, I would more deeply ask, what do you want?
And I think that alone is a really difficult question, including for myself. What do I actually want? As Bruce says, there's a, we have a portfolio of interests, right? I both wanna order dominos and wanna look more self, right? We have these competing interests and we're negotiating amongst our internal voices. And so I think for me, my question is just like, what do you want? And then the question is, you know, why do you feel uncomfortable asking for it? How does that relate to your self-worth? How do you see the relationship between yourself to yourself and yourself to others? And William Murri does this in getting to yes, with yourself in a really beautiful way. But I'm just curious, what do you want?
NM : That's a great way to end this and greatly appreciate you joining us today, Max. I'm gonna kick it over for closing thoughts.
AD : Yeah. Well I think Max closed it pretty well there. I'll just say that the first thing you talked about was that negotiators are formed and the family crucible. I think that's consistent with everything we've heard through this program with you and, and with that last piece. So thanks, thanks so much for taking the time. Know you're busy and thanks for sharing your insights. Look forward to working with you in the near future, Max.
NM : Yep.
MB : It's just the beginning. So good to meet you. Thank you so much for having me. It's a blast.
NM : That's it for us on today's podcast. If you haven't already, please rate, review and subscribe to the podcast and we'll see you in the next episode.
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